The astronauts commonly referred to as "the rest of the Discovery crew" handle the attention showered on John Glenn with good humor.
Mission specialist Steve Robinson just turned 43.
"You know if it weren't for the senator being on this flight, I'd be the oldest man on the mission, so I'm really happy he's on the flight. Ha ha," says Robinson.
It's commander Curt Brown's fifth shuttle flight, but his mother has NEVER been so thrilled as when he got THIS assignment.
"She goes 'You're not on a flight with Senator Glenn, are ya? And I go 'Well, Mom, he is on MY flight. Let's get that straight! She goes 'No way. Really?'" And I go 'yeah' and she just got so excited!" said Brown.
But as CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, they're an eclectic mix of daredevilsÂ…
"[I've] built hang gliders in the backyard, jumped off mountains," says Robinson, "So I've done a lot more dangerous things than this."
"I lived and breathed the stuff. I grew up with it. It was a childhood dream to become an astronaut," said Mission Specialist Dr. Scott Parazynski.
Heart surgeon Chiaki Mukai's husband, also a doctor, shares more than just her passion for medicine. "He always says, 'I wish I could fly with you.' I think he wants to fly actually," says Mukai.
But it's not easy for family to watch loved ones fly off into the unknown. NASA puts the odds of a catastrophic failure that would kill the crew at a nerve-wracking 'one in 438.'
"I talked with kids after Challenger. I tell them I wouldn't do it if it weren't important," says Pilot/Payload Commander Lt. Col. Steven Lindsey.
This crew has TEN children among them. Pedro Duque's youngest...is just a few weeks old.
"You never like to do anything dangerous and look at your kids and say what would it be like if you were not there. There are some decisions you have to take in life and if you ever do anything risky, you may never do anything at all," says Mission Specialist Pedro Duque.
The pay doesn't reflect the risk. Astronauts make $40-$103-thousand a year...and don't get any special life insurance coverage.
"Just before launch we can buy additional life insurance if we like. It has to come out of our own pocket. It's very, very expensive," says Brown. He says that's especially the case if any coverage that would do anyone any good.
As a payload specialist, Glenn doesn't get paid for flying. But he contineus to draw his senator's salary which, at $124,000, is a good deal higher than any full-time astronaut's.
Reported by CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkission