Astronaut Shannon Lucid Retires From NASA

Shannon Lucid, whose NASA career spans some thirty years - has retired from the space agency. Photo Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid, who has been with the space agency since 1979, (Lucid was among the first group of female astronauts selected) has decided to retire after serving with more than 30 years with the space agency. Her departure comes just four days after Jerry Ross’ departure from NASA was announced. 

Although Lucid was not an “active” astronaut (she is listed as being a management astronaut, a group that includes Charles Bolden, Bob Cabana and Leland Melvin). Lucid has flown into space five times and has logged more than 223 days in space. Between Aug. 1991 and Jun. 2007 Lucid held the record as the woman with the most days on orbit. Lucid, also, is the only woman to serve on Russia’s Mir space station. She lived on the orbiting outpost for 188 days – the longest of any U.S. astronaut who served onboard Mir. 

Lucid held another record – that of the single flight endurance record by a woman. She held this record until 2006 – when this record was exceeded by Sunita Williams who spent 195 days on the International Space Station (ISS). 

Lucid was among NASA's first group of female astronauts that joined the space agency in 1979. Seen here from Left-to-Right: Shannon W. Lucid, Margaret Rhea Seddon, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Judith A. Resnik, Anna L. Fisher, and Sally K. Ride. Photo Credit: NASA

“Shannon is an extraordinary woman and scientist. She paved the way for so many of us,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “She was a model astronaut for long-duration missions, and whether she was flying hundreds of miles up in space or serving as Capcom [capsule communicator] during the overnight hours for our space shuttle and space station crews, she always brought a smile to our faces. Like so many others, I always will look up to her.” 

Lucid, was selected to be an astronaut in 1978. She was joined by five other women, Kathryn Sullivan, Judith Resnik, Anna Fisher and Sally Ride as the agency’s first female astronauts. She first flew into space on STS-51G in 1985 which deployed and retrieved the SPARTAN satellite. In 1989 Lucid flew into space on mission STS-34, which deployed the Galileo spacecraft to explore Jupiter. Two years later she was back on orbit on mission STS-43 and two years after that she flew into space again on STS-58. 

It was her final flight to space, STS-76, that Lucid is perhaps best remembered for. Lucid flew onboard space shuttle Atlantis on STS-76 in March of 1996 to the Russian Mir space station. During the course of her stay, she performed numerous scientific experiments. Lucid was also returned to Earth on Atlantis on STS-79 in September of that same year. 

In 2002, Lucid began serving as the space agency’s chief scientist at NASA’s headquarters located in Washington. The following year she returned to Johnson Space Center in Houston and resumed technical assignments in the Astronaut Office. Lucid could be frequently seen on NASA Television serving as “capsule communicator” or Capcom during numerous shuttle and ISS missions.

As it currently stands, NASA has 58 active astronauts (those astronauts that can actually fly missions) and 42 management astronauts.

Of Lucid's five flights to orbit, her 188 days aboard the Russian space station Mir are what she is best known for. Her final mission would culminate with her return to Earth aboard space shuttle Atlantis on STS-79 in 1996. Image Credit: NASA

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