Three space shuttle veterans are being inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Saturday, May 5 at 3 p.m. The ceremony will be carried like on NASA Television. The three astronauts that will be included into the hall of fame this year are Franklin R. Chang-Díaz, Kevin P. Chilton and Charles J. Precourt.
The trio will join human space flight legends such as John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, and Jim Lovell. With their inclusion, the total number of astronauts in the AHoF will be 82.
Chang-Diaz is a part of the 1980 group of astronauts and has flown into space seven times aboard NASA’s retired fleet of orbiters. During his time with the space agency he logged more than 1.601 hours on orbit. After leaving NASA in 2005, Chang-Diaz founded the Ad Astra Rocket Company. The company’s efforts are focused on developing the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, more commonly known as VASIMR. This engine could revolutionize space flight as we know it, theoretically reducing the travel time to Mars – to approximately 40 days.
Charlie Precourt flew into space four times; three of those trips were to the Russian space station Mir. Precourt was part of NASA’s 1990 group of astronauts. When not training for a mission he held a variety of roles within the space agency. From serving as the chief of the astronaut office to managing the day-to-day operations of the International Space Station (ISS) Precourt was instrumental in many crucial aspects of the space agency. Having logged 934 hours in space, Precourt retired from NASA in 2004. Following his time with NASA he went to work for Alliant Techsystems (ATK) as the company’s Vice-President.
General Kevin P. Chilton became an astronaut in 1988 and flew into space three times and logged more than 704 hours on orbit. Chilton was the pilot on the maiden voyage of space shuttle Endeavour, STS-49. He too traveled to the Russian space station Mir as commander of STS-76. He also was part of the all-astronaut band Max-Q where he performed as a guitarist. Chilton left NASA in 1998 to resume his career as a U.S. Air Force officer. Chilton would go on to become a four-star general – making him the only astronaut so far to accomplish this.
More than 30 Hall of Fame astronauts are currently are slated to attend. Some of those that have agreed to attend include Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, Apollo astronaut Walt Cunningham and space shuttle astronaut Bruce McCandless.
Guests that attend this coming weekend’s events will be treated to appearances by numerous astronauts. Bob Crippen, the pilot on the first shuttle mission, STS-1 and Kathryn Thornton, a record-breaking spacewalker will conduct special Astronaut Encounters on May 5 and May 6 respectively. Apollo 16 Moonwalker astronaut, Charlie Duke will also conduct a signing of his appropriately-named book “Moonwalker” at 10:15 a.m. May 5.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has weekend ticket packages starting at $86 plus tax for adults and $64 plus tax for children 3-11 years. These packages include access to the “Lunch with the Astronauts: Reflections of 50 Years of Spaceflight,” featuring Astronaut Hall of Fame astronauts Scott Carpenter, Richard Gordon, Charlie Duke, Jack Lousma and Brewster Shaw. Guests who purchase tickets will also receive reserved seating at the induction ceremony; receive a commemorative poster of this year’s inductees. All tickets are good for admission to both the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame two days.
Standing-room only viewing of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is included with the regular cost of admission (or if you have an Annual Pass to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex). For those interested in purchasing tickets to the induction ceremony the Visitor Complex can be contacted by phone at 877-313-2610 or online at www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.