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  First Shuttle Pilot Crippen Gets Congressional Space Medal of Honor

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Author Topic:   First Shuttle Pilot Crippen Gets Congressional Space Medal of Honor
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-27-2006 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From NASA.gov:
quote:
Former NASA astronaut Bob Crippen, pilot on the first space shuttle mission in 1981, has been honored with the nation's highest award for spaceflight achievement, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Crippen was awarded the medal on April 26 at a ceremony in Washington commemorating the 25th anniversary of the flight, known as STS-1. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin presented the award in the name of President George W. Bush and on behalf of the U.S. Congress.

"This medal, awarded by the Congress of the United States, commemorates publicly what all of us who know Bob Crippen already understood: he is an authentic American hero," said Griffin.

"He holds an unsurpassed record of dedicated service to this country as a military aviator, test pilot, engineer, and astronaut, including his assignment as pilot for the historic STS-1 mission, recognized with this award. And no one has more effectively applied such an extensive operational background more to the demands of senior management in both government and industry. And above all, Crip is a loyal friend to all who know him. We at NASA are honored by his association with our agency."

In receiving the distinction, Crippen said the recognition was unexpected.

"It was such a surprise. I am totally overwhelmed," said Crippen. "Just look at the names of the people who are on the list. They are heroes in the truest sense of the word and I can't believe someone would think to include me in such distinguished company. I'm so honored."

The Congressional Space Medal of Honor was authorized by Congress in 1969 to recognize "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the nation and mankind."

Crippen became a NASA astronaut in September 1969. He was a member of the astronaut support crew throughout the entire Skylab program and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which was completed successfully in July 1975.

For his first mission into space, he was selected for the initial flight of the space shuttle in what is considered the boldest test flight in history. Along with his crewmate, veteran commander and Apollo moonwalker John Young, he successfully piloted the orbiter Columbia on her maiden flight April 12, 1981.

The two astronauts tested the space shuttle's systems for two days and 36 orbits before safely gliding the unique spacecraft to a safe landing on a California desert runway.

Crippen went on to command three future space shuttle missions and served in a variety of supervisory positions at NASA before becoming the director for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where he safely managed 22 space shuttle flights.

Young was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in May 1981. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first recipient of the award in 1978 as part of a celebration to mark NASA's 20th anniversary. Since then, a total of 28 astronauts have now received this prestigious recognition of their service, bravery, and dedication.

"You know, when you work really hard for something for a long time it's almost impossible to believe that it's coming true," Crippen said, recalling his STS-1 launch in a NASA.gov podcast.

"It was really loud, and then when the {solid rocket boosters} lit off there was no doubt you were headed someplace. We just all hoped it was in the right direction. It was a nice kick in the pants."

"The space shuttle has been a fantastic vehicle," Crippen continued. "It is unlike any other thing that we've ever built. Its capabilities have carried several hundred people into space, it's carried thousands of pounds of payload into space. It gave us Hubble, it gave us Galileo, it gave us Magellan. And it's allowed us to essentially build a space station, although we've got some work still to do on that. So it is something that has been truly amazing and I'm honored to have been a part of it along with thousands of other people that made it possible."


Congressional Space Medal of Honor Recipients

28 astronauts have now been honored with the award, which is presented by the President of the United States in Congress' name.

  • 1978 Neil Armstrong
  • 1978 Frank Borman
  • 1978 Charles "Pete" Conrad
  • 1978 John Glenn
  • 1978 Virgil "Gus" Grissom (posthumous)
  • 1978 Alan Shepard
  • 1981 John W. Young
  • 1993 Thomas P. Stafford
  • 1995 James Lovell
  • 1996 Shannon Lucid
  • 1997 Roger Chaffee (posthumous)
  • 1997 Edward White (posthumous)
  • 2003 William Shepherd
  • 2004 Dick Scobee (posthumous)
  • 2004 Michael Smith (posthumous)
  • 2004 Judith Resnik (posthumous)
  • 2004 Ellison Onizuka (posthumous)
  • 2004 Ronald McNair (posthumous)
  • 2004 Greg Jarvis (posthumous)
  • 2004 Christa McAuliffe (posthumous)
  • 2004 Rick Husband (posthumous)
  • 2004 Willie McCool (posthumous)
  • 2004 Michael P. Anderson (posthumous)
  • 2004 Kalpana Chawla (posthumous)
  • 2004 David M. Brown (posthumous)
  • 2004 Laurel Clark (posthumous)
  • 2004 Ilan Ramon (posthumous)
  • 2006 Robert Crippen

KSCartist
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Posts: 2488
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 04-27-2006 11:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hesitate to post this question because I don't want to "stir up a hornets nest" but I am curious about a couple of names NOT on the list.
They say Wally Schirra flew a perfect test flight in Mercury and was the only astronaut to fly Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

Jim McDivitt commanded Gemini 4 and the first test flight of the LM on Apollo 9.

We already know how management viewed Carpenter and Cooper but as members of a small fraternity they contributed greatly to our knowledge base.

Shouldn't Deke Slayton, who when robbed of a flight went on to be an excellent manager of a historical program be considered?

Again I'm not being critical but if you honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews shouldn't you honor the original crew of Gemini 9?

Just wondering.

Tim

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-27-2006 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KSCartist:
Again I'm not being critical but if you honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews shouldn't you honor the original crew of Gemini 9?
This last one can be addressed by the guidelines set forth by the award. Its my understanding that the medal is limited to recognizing feats or losses experienced during actual space flight (including launch). Therefore, the loss during air flight of See and Bassett would not be eligible.

As for the others, all excellent suggestions. Why or how the astronauts who were honored at the time were selected may never be known.

[This message has been edited by Robert Pearlman (edited April 27, 2006).]

KSCartist
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Posts: 2488
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 04-27-2006 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Robert-
Using the list- the recipients are understandable:

1978 Neil Armstrong- "First Man"

1978 Frank Borman- CDR of 1st mission to the Moon.

1978 Charles "Pete" Conrad- CDR of mission that saved Skylab

1978 John Glenn- first (American) to orbit

1978 Virgil "Gus" Grissom (posthumous)
CDR of first Gemini, Apollo 1

1978 Alan Shepard- first American in space, only Mercury astronaut to walk on the Moon.

1981 John W. Young - STS-1 CDR

1993 Thomas P. Stafford - American CDR of ASTP

1995 James Lovell- CDR of Apollo 13

1996 Shannon Lucid - MIR

1997 Roger Chaffee (posthumous)

1997 Edward White (posthumous)

2003 William Shepherd - 1st CDR of ISS crew

White & Chaffee for Apollo-1
Challenger 51-L crew
Columbia 107 crew because they all paid the ultimate price.

Bob Crippen - very deserving, just surprised it took so long. He was awarded the medal for the same reason as John Young- STS-1.

The people who decide seem to favor the CDR of the missions. Again I'm not knocking who was chosen-just wondering why others weren't. Let me add Anders from Apollo 8, Aldrin and Collins from Apollo 11, Swigert and Haise from Apollo 13.

Didn't the crew and Mission Controllers receive medals from Nixon after Apollo-13?

Tim


mjanovec
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Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 04-29-2006 01:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Its my understanding that the medal is limited to recognizing feats or losses experienced during actual space flight (including launch). Therefore, the loss during air flight of See and Bassett would not be eligible.

Would the Apollo 1 accident qualify as actual spaceflight? Granted, I personally believe the Apollo 1 crew is just as deserving of the medal, but it seems the criteria is a little bit looser than an event occuring during a flight. Perhaps it qualified since it occured in a spacecraft under conditions that simulated spaceflight.

In my opinion, I also think Wally Schirra should be honored...for a number of reasons: near flawless Mercury flight, first orbital rendezvous, and the first flight of Apollo. It doesn't get much better than that!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-29-2006 05:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Further researching the qualifications, the only specific mention I can find regarding posthumous honors appears as part of a wikipedia article:
quote:
The Congressional Space Medal of Honor may also be presented posthumously to those astronauts who died in the line of duty while performing a United States space mission.
NASA's History Office just recently established a page about the award, where PDFs are linked to the appropriate passages in public law and the Federal Code of Regulations. Per those documents, the award may be bestowed upon astronauts that meet the following description:

Public law -

quote:
The President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a medal of appropriate design, which shall be known as the Con- gressional Space Medal of Honor, to any astronaut who in the per- formance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionalIy meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and of mankind.
Federal Code -
quote:
The standard of award for a Congressional Space Medal of Honor is established by Pub. L. 91-76 (42 U.&c. 2461) which provides that the president may award the Medal to any "astronaut who in the performance of hia duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and of mankind."

The Medal may be awarded to any person who is or has been designated to travel in space and who has distinguished himself or herself while undertaking duties in preparation for, execution of, or subsequent to, but in connection with, a space flight.


Naraht
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Posts: 232
From: Oxford, UK
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 04-29-2006 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder why it's only for astronauts? I guess that other distinguished people who have been involved with spaceflight only get the regular Congressional Medal of Honor, rather than the "Space" one. It doesn't make much sense to me somehow...

star61
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Posts: 258
From: Bristol UK
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 04-30-2006 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can think of many reasons other Astros could\should get this award, but for Stafford surely it would be for A10 rather than ASTP. That was a truly risky flight, going down to a few 10s of thousands of feet in a vehicle incapable of landing. As for Ed White, 1st US EVA!

chappy
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Posts: 213
From: Cardiff, S. Wales, UK
Registered: Apr 2006

posted 05-01-2006 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chappy   Click Here to Email chappy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My congratulations to Robert Crippen for being awarded Congressional Space Medal of Honor,which he's deserved it.
But i would like to say what about the American first woman in space,SALLY RIDE??
She made history in American manned spaceflight,and what about the first woman to command a space flight in American Space Program,EILEEN COLLINS??
Regards,
PAUL

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