NASA announces 2015 Astronaut Hall of Fame inductees
On its silver anniversary, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will induct four space shuttle astronauts as part of its 2015 class. John Grunsfeld, Rhea Seddon, Steven Lindsey, and Kent Rominger will join the ranks of previous inductees including Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, and John Young in a ceremony on May 30 at Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex (KSCVC).
The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame (AHOF) was founded in 1989 by the six surviving Mercury astronauts and was designed to be a place where astronauts could be remembered for their achievements, much like sports figures are. The Hall is now part of KSCVC and operated by Delaware North, with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation serving as a consultant.
Each year the selection process is managed by the Foundation, and inductees are selected from a pool of nominations, with the finalists selected by a panel of Hall of Fame astronauts, NASA leaders, flight directors, historians and journalists.
According to Collect Space, “To be eligible, astronauts must be U.S citizens and have made their first spaceflight at least 17 years prior to their induction year. In addition, nominees need to be a NASA-trained commander, pilot or mission specialist who orbited the Earth at least once.”
The 2015 inductees are the 14th class and, combined, the group has flown a total of 18 shuttle missions over 26 years. With the addition of this year’s inductees, the total number of astronauts admitted to the Hall of Fame will be 91.
John Grunsfeld, current NASA associate administrator for science, is a veteran of five spaceflights, and logged over 58 days in space with 60 hours of EVA time spread over eight different spacewalks.
First flying in 1995 as part of STS-67, a dedicated astronomy mission, Grunsfeld served as a mission specialist. Launching from Kennedy Space Center aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-67 was the second on three flights for the Astro 2 observatory — an ultraviolet telescope. During this record-setting 16-day mission, the crew conducted ’round the clock observations of faint astronomical objects as well as the polarization of UV light from distant galaxies.
His second flight, STS-81, was the fifth shuttle flight to dock with the Mir space station. Launching aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, Grunsfeld served as a flight engineer during this ten day mission.
His next three flights, STS-103, STS-109, STS-125, would be servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Over the course of these three mission, and several spacewalks, Grunsfeld helped upgrade and install new cameras, such as the wide-field camera on the telescope, ensuring it would be functional for years to come. His final flight was also the final flight to Hubble.
During his last spacewalk, Grunsfeld said this about the mission, “We’ve been on a tremendous adventure, and been a part of a challenging mission. Hubble isn’t just another satellite, it’s humanity’s quest for knowledge.”
When asked about his experience as an astronaut and what it felt like to be nominated, Grunsfeld said, “The biggest honor is to be an astronaut. It is such a tremendous privilege to be able to represent humankind in our efforts to explore space.”
Rhea Seddon, a three-time shuttle flier, was one of six women selected as part of NASA’s first class of female astronauts. “The six of us felt like we were trailblazers for other women. All six of us had the chance to fly, and it was a great group to be a part of.”
Seddon, married to 2003 Hall of Fame member, Robert “Hoot” Gibson, is so honored to be nominated. She has enjoyed celebrating the success of others and is humbled to be part of such an incredible group of explorers.
During her first flight, STS-51D, the crew deployed two satellites – ANIK-C and Syncom IV-3. A malfunction in the Syncom spacecraft caused the first unscheduled EVA (spacewalk), rendezvous and proximity operations for the Space Shuttle in an attempt to activate the satellite using the Remote Manipulator System.
Seddon was a physician both before and after her career as an astronaut. Her second two flights, STS-40 and STS-58, both aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, were mainly life sciences missions. She is currently working on her first book, “Go for Orbit”, which is scheduled for release in May 2015. This will be the first book written by one of NASA’s first six female astronauts.
Kent Rominger, former Navy Captain and former chief of NASA’s astronaut office is a five-time shuttle flier. His first two flights (STS-73 and STS-80) were on the Space Shuttle Columbia, where he served as the pilot. He piloted Discovery for STS-85, and then led two shuttle missions to the International Space Station, where the crew prepped the orbiting laboratory for its first crew.
Rominger retired from the Navy in 2005, and from NASA in 2006 where he went to take a position at ATK Launch Systems, now known as Orbital ATK. Rominger was excited and humbled to hear he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“To be accepted in the same realm as Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, John Young and all the great explorers, is truly an honor,” Rominger said.
Rominger handed the reigns of the NASA astronaut office over to fellow inductee and five-time space flier Steven Lindsey. His first flight, STS-87, was the fourth U.S. Microgravity Payload flight, which focused on experiments designed to study how the weightless environment of space affects various physical processes.
His second flight was unique inthat he piloted a crew of six astronauts and one American legend — John Glenn. STS-95 concentrated on how spaceflight affects the aging process. Lindsey was part of the crew that delivered the airlock for the International Space Station on STS-104 and he led NASA’s return to flight following the Columbia disaster in 2003. His final mission was also the final mission for NASA’s storied orbiter, Discovery.
Today, Lindsey is the senior director for space exploration systems at Sierra Nevada Corporation.
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