CHICAGO
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Space Shuttle Launch: Chicago Surgeon To Operate On Space Station's Robotic Arms

The nation's space program is calling on a Chicago surgeon to fix faulty robotic arms on the international space station, Monifa Thomas of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Dr. Robert Satcher Jr., 44, will become the first orthopedic surgeon in space when he and five other astronauts climb into the space shuttle Atlantis and blast their way to the space station after Monday's 2:28 p.m. launch.

During the 11-day mission, Satcher will look at how outer space affects the human immune system and tinker with the robotic arms on the space station's exterior.

A bone cancer specialist at Northwestern Memorial and Children's Memorial Hospitals, Satcher has been documenting his astronaut training and the run-up to next week's launch on his Twitter account. He says he'll be the third physician with Northwestern ties to go into space.

"Went into quarantine tonight with the rest of the STS129 crew," Satcher, Twitter name astro_bones, wrote Nov. 10. "Only 6 days remaining until liftoff!"

The crew is currently preparing for launch at the Kennedy Space Station in Florida.