Shuttle commander to leave NASA

HOUSTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The commander of NASA's final space shuttle flight says he is leaving the agency after an 11-year stint at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Chris Ferguson, who flew on three shuttle missions, is departing the NASA Astronaut Office and taking a new job in the private sector, Florida Today reported.


Ferguson indicated he would stay in the aerospace industry.

"A tough decision to leave folks, but good things await," Ferguson said on his Twitter account. "And I get to stay in the business. Thanks for your support."

A retired Navy captain, Ferguson commanded the final flight of the 30-year shuttle campaign, a supply run to the International Space Station.

"Chris has been a great friend, a tremendous professional and an invaluable asset to the NASA team and the Astronaut Office," NASA Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson said in a statement.

"His exceptional leadership helped ensure a perfect final flight for the space shuttle, a fitting tribute to the thousands of people who made the program possible."

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