KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The first American
woman to walk in space, the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission commander,
the first African-American to command a spaceship, the first American to
occupy Russia's Mir space station, and the commander of the 1986 ill- fated
Challenger 51-L have been chosen for 2004 induction in the Astronaut Hall of
Joining such illustrious American icons as Neil Armstrong, John Glenn,
Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Sally Ride as Hall of Fame inductees will be:
Kathryn D. Sullivan, Richard O. Covey, Frederick D. Gregory, Norman E. Thagard
and Francis R. Dick Scobee, who will be represented by June Scobee. The
honorees will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame during a May 1 public ceremony
at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Sullivan, as America's third female astronaut, made history as the United
States' first woman space-walker during her 1984 inaugural Shuttle flight when
she and David Leetsma slipped into Challenger's open cargo bay to practice
techniques for refueling out-of-gas orbiting satellites. On two later
missions Sullivan helped launch the Hubble Space Telescope and made an
extensive study of Earth's resources.
A four-time Space Shuttle flyer, Covey distinguished himself as both
commander of the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission and as pilot of the
Shuttle program's critical return-to-flight mission following the 1986
While he also flew on Discovery in 1985 and Atlantis in 1990, much more
visible was Covey's 1993 command of Endeavour on the most difficult space
repair mission ever attempted. He was also in a high-profile position as
pilot of the Discovery in 1988, when he and four other veteran Shuttle fliers
were the first to fly in the redesigned spacecraft following the Challenger
incident. Covey currently serves as co-chairman of the Stafford-Covey Return
to Flight Task Group, which is making an independent assessment of NASA's
implementation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board Space Shuttle
return to flight recommendations.
Gregory flew on three Shuttle missions, the first as pilot of Challenger
which shot into orbit in 1985 with a crew of seven and a menagerie of 24 rats
and two squirrel monkeys who were along to test cages designed for future
animal research in space. He became the first African-American to command a
space mission when he guided Discovery in 1989 on a secret Defense Department
flight and again commanded a military mission with the 1991 launch of
Atlantis. Since leaving the astronaut corps, Gregory has held various
positions within NASA and is now the agency's second in command.
After serving in various capacities on 1983, 1985, 1989 and 1993 Shuttle
flights, Florida native Thagard rode into space in a Soyuz spacecraft launched
from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft docked at the Mir space
station, where Thagard spent 115 days, working on 28 different experiments
before returning to Earth aboard Shuttle Atlantis.
Scobee was the pilot aboard Challenger in 1984 on the world's first
mission to repair a satellite in orbit. The shuttle was launched on a
week-long journey in pursuit of the Solar Max sun-study satellite, which had
been disabled in orbit for three years. The satellite was snared, refurbished
and set free to resume its study of the sun.
Scobee was aboard Challenger again on January 28, 1986, this time as
commander with six crewmates, when it lifted off on a frigid day. Fifty-eight
seconds later, a tongue of flame burst through a solid fuel booster rocket,
igniting a reaction that destroyed the Shuttle and its seven crew members.
This year's inductees were selected by a blue-ribbon committee composed of
former NASA officials and flight controllers, journalists, historians and
other space authorities in a process administered by the Astronaut Scholarship
To be eligible for induction, an individual must be a U.S. citizen and a
NASA astronaut and must have been out of the active astronaut corps at least
five years. Committee members consider not only an astronaut's
accomplishments in space, but how he or she contributed to the advancement of
space exploration both before and after his or her mission
This is the third group of Space Shuttle astronauts selected for induction
into the Hall of Fame. Once inducted, they will increase the number of space
explorers enshrined there to 57. Earlier inductees came from the Mercury,
Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs.
Special induction ticket packages including brunch or lunch with Hall of
Fame astronauts are available online at www.kennedyspacecenter.com or by
calling (321) 449-4444.
About the Astronaut Hall of Fame:
In 1984, the Mercury Seven Foundation was established by the six surviving
members of America's original Mercury astronauts and Mrs. Betty Grissom, widow
of the seventh, to create a site where space travelers could be remembered.
Their dream was realized in 1990 when the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame opened.
The Foundation also sought to preserve the United States' leadership role in
science and technology through the provision of scholarships to college
students pursuing degrees in the fields of science and engineering.
In 1995, with the realization the Mercury astronauts would not be able to
raise scholarship funds forever, the Foundation broadened its membership to
include astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs
and changed its name to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Today, the
foundation funds $144,500 in scholarships annually.
In December 2002, the Astronaut Hall of Fame was acquired by NASA and
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts (DNPR), which operates the Visitor
Complex on NASA's behalf. Under an agreement with DNPR, the Astronaut
Scholarship Foundation serves as a consultant in the operation of the Hall of
Fame. The foundation's duties include supervising the selection, by an outside
committee, of astronauts for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame; obtaining their
personal artifacts for display in the museum; participating in their induction
ceremonies; and working with DNPR and NASA on special events. In return, DNPR
contributes to the foundation's scholarship program.
SOURCE Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex