PELHAM, N.H. (AP) – Astronaut Rick Linnehan says last month’s 16-day flight aboard the space shuttle Endeavour was probably his last mission.

The trip was Linnehan’s fourth mission and the first time he traveled to the international space station, where he helped assemble a 12-foot 2,400 pound robot.

“It’s a lot like science fiction,” said Linnehan, 50, who lived in Pelham as a child. “When you’re floating outside in space and looking around, and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, this is just like ‘2001.”‘

He was referring to Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, a science fiction novelist who died while Linnehan and the other six Endeavour astronauts were in orbit last month.

“I love science fiction,” Linnehan said. “It’s my favorite genre. That’s what I read all the time growing up as a kid. That’s one of the reasons I was always interested in space and being an astronaut.”

Linnehan said he will continue to work for NASA, helping train astronauts.

“I got to the to the international space station, where I’ve never been before. And I had the best crew I’ve ever had from my four missions, which was a good way to end things,” he said. “There’s a lot I can do. It’s just that I won’t be flying in space anymore.”

Linnehan said he regrets that he never traveled to the moon, and that he also would have loved to be on the first manned mission to mars. He supports putting a base on the moon, saying that doing so is necessary to prepare for a mission to mars.

“It’s always been 30 years away,” he said. “When I was a kid, it was 30 years away. And now it’s still 30 years away.”


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