Feb. 7, 2014
— A spacewalker who flew a record seven times into orbit and the first American woman to complete a long-duration space station mission will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut of Hall of Fame, officials announced on Friday (Feb. 7).
Former NASA astronauts Jerry Ross and Shannon Lucid were revealed as the Hall of Fame's 2014 honorees during a ceremony held Friday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Ross and Lucid will be formally enshrined into the Hall on May 3 during a public induction to include many of the institution's 85 astronaut members.
"[Lucid and Ross] are extraordinary astronauts who made history as important and frequent crewmembers on shuttle missions," Dan Brandenstein, a four-time shuttle flier and 2003 Astronaut Hall of Fame inductee, remarked. "We are looking forward to honoring their accomplishments and to sharing their tremendous life stories."
The US Astronaut Hall of Fame is part of NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Wikipedia)
Ross and Lucid were chosen through a selection process overseen by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which Brandenstein heads as chair. Nominees had to have made their first launch by 1996 as either a NASA-trained shuttle commander, pilot or mission specialist.
A committee of Astronaut Hall of Fame inductees, NASA officials, flight directors, historians and journalists voted to select this year's class of honorees.
Lucid and Ross joined NASA's astronaut corps in January 1978 and May 1980, respectively. Both launched into orbit for the first time in 1985 and retired from NASA in 2012.
Lucid was among the first six women that NASA selected to be astronauts. A veteran of five missions, including one stay on the Russian space station Mir, Lucid logged more than 5,354 hours 223 days in space. She set a record for the most flight hours in orbit by a female astronaut, which she held until 2007, and was the only American woman to have served aboard Mir.
Jerry Ross spacewalks outside the then-newly-born International Space Station during the STS-88 mission in 1998. (NASA)
Ross was the first person to launch from Earth into space seven times
. Logging nearly 1,400 hours in orbit, including 58 hours and 18 minutes during nine spacewalks, Ross's seven-spaceflight total is a record he now shares with only one other astronaut (2012 Hall of Fame inductee Franklin Chang Diaz), and his number of spacewalks as well as the time spent on those spacewalks both rank as the second-highest among NASA astronauts and third-longest among spacewalkers worldwide.
Of Ross' seven space shuttle launches, five were onboard the orbiter Atlantis (the two others were on Columbia and Endeavour). Ross helped deploy communication satellites and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, flew aboard a classified mission for the Department of Defense, installed a docking module on the space station Mir and helped to build the International Space Station, including serving on the very first assembly mission.
Like Ross, Lucid's shuttle flights deployed communication satellites — including a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). She also helped launch the Galileo robotic probe to Jupiter and conducted medical experiments. Lucid flew on orbiters Columbia, Discovery and Atlantis before lifting off on Atlantis again for her 188-day stay aboard Mir. Only the second American to live on the Soviet-era outpost, her mission helped paved the way for the International Space Station.
Besides flying in space, Lucid also worked in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) and Flight Software Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, as well as served as capcom — capsule communicator — in Mission Control. She was also NASA's Chief Scientist at the space agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Shannon Lucid exercising on a treadmill onboard Russia's space station Mir during her record-setting 188 days on orbit. (NASA)
From 2003 to 2011, Ross was the chief of NASA's Vehicle Integration Test Office at Johnson Space Center. In 2013, he released his autobiography and will publish a children's book later this year.
Lucid and Ross are the 13th group of shuttle astronauts to be named to the Astronaut Hall of Fame. In 2013, shuttle fliers Curtis Brown, Eileen Collins and Bonnie Dunbar were inducted.