2004 Astronaut Hall of Fame Honorees Announced

Third Class of Space Shuttle Astronauts to be Inducted into Hall of Fame

Jan 20, 2004, 00:00 ET from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

    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
 Challenger disaster.
     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