CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla – For the past five years the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) has hosted an autograph show at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex located in Florida. This year was no different – but there was one notable addition to this year’s festivities – Atlantis’ arrival to the Visitor Complex. Such an event did not escape the notice of the nonprofit organization.
The 33 astronauts that participated in this year’s show escorted Atlantis to her final destination, providing an “honor guard” for the orbiter as she ended her 26 year career.
They included Moonwalkers such as Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Charlie Duke, Edgar Mitchell, and David Scott. Fellow Apollo astronauts Vance Brand, Jerry Carr, Owen Garriott, Ed Gibson, Dick Gordon, Fred Haise, Joe Kerwin, Jack Lousma, Jim McDivitt, Bill Pogue and Paul Weitz.
Shuttle-era astronauts were not to be outdone, especially as it was one of their own that was being honored. The shuttle astronauts at this year’s autograph show included; John Blaha, Dan Brandenstein, Mary Cleave, Eileen Collins, Dick Covey, Fred Gregory, Rick Hauck, Kevin Kregel, Mark Lee, Mike McCulley, Mike Mullane, Robert Springer, Norm Thagard, Kathy Thornton and Don Williams. Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter was also in attendance.
The autograph show’s attendees also included the men and women who made the astronaut’s missions possible. Flight controllers, medical and public relations personnel, as well as others that powered the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo crews into orbit and beyond were all on hand. This added a depth to the show that guests appeared to appreciate.
The show is held to raise funds for students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or “STEM.”
“I’m happy to attend the annual astronaut autograph show; we get folks from all over the world who are excited by space exploration,” said Apollo 13’s Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise during this year’s show. “Getting folks interest in STEM is vital, as these folks will be the next generation of people who are going to carry on the business that we have been so fortunate to be a part of.”