Captain Ferguson is a 1979 Ryan graduate. Jerry O'Connell taught Ferguson in the 9th grade.
"He was an excellent student, a fine, young man, the kind of student that makes teaching worthwhile," O'Connell said.
In 1984 Chris Ferguson graduated from Drexel University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He keeps in touch with the engineering school's dean and called him a couple weeks ago inviting him to Florida for the launch.
"Even in his e-mails, he says go Endeavour. He's all tuned in to it and ready for lift off," Selcuk Gucri said.
In 2006 Captain Ferguson piloted Atlantis. After that mission, the Northeast Philadelphia native, whose parents live in Langhorne, returned to Archbishop Ryan where he was honored and, in turn, honored students with words of inspiration.
"He told us he was never that great of a student, but he pushed himself, and kept going at it and working hard and he ended up being in NASA so he pushed us all," student Marissa Perez said.
In his final public remarks before tonight's scheduled 7:55 launch Ferguson gave a shout out to Drexel, the city and the Phils.
"I'd also like to congratulate the Philadelphia Phillies, one of my near and dear teams for achieving their distinction of World Series champions," Ferguson said.
He is an astronaut with deep roots in the Delaware valley even as he soars high above Earth.