The crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour may include an accomplished musician, an engineer who helped launch shuttles, and a second-generation space program worker. But most importantly, the two other crew members have roots in land surveying.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 8, 2010
Filed at 5:14 a.m. ET

Nytimes.com:CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- The crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour includes an accomplished musician whose latest exploits are with the cello and steel guitar, an engineer who helped launch shuttles and a second-generation space program worker.

A brief look at the five men and one woman en route to the International Space Station: Commander George Zamka is personally delivering some special rocks to the International Space Station: four chips from the moon and a stone from the top of Mount Everest.

The fragments of moon rock were gathered by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969, and carried up Mount Everest by a former shuttle astronaut last spring. Zamka accepted the rocks last month and said he would make sure they got into the new space station compartments flying up on Endeavour. They will serve, he said, ''as a reminder to all of the astronauts who are up there, what human beings can do and what our challenges are.''

This is Zamka's second spaceflight in his 12 years as an astronaut.

The 47-year-old Marine colonel grew up in New York, Rochester Hills, Mich., and Medellin, Colombia, his mother's hometown. He recalls watching planes fly over his Medellin school on final approach to the airport. It was ''a great enticement'' for pursuing an aviation career. His Colombian pilot uncle also was an influence.

Zamka went on to become a fighter pilot. He and wife Elisa have a 15-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy.

To read the rest of the biographies, including former surveyor Stephen Robinson and Kay Hire, the daughter of a land-surveyor, follow this link www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/02/08/science/AP-US-Shuttle-Astronauts.html?_r=1.