Veteran Space Shuttle Astronauts Selected for 2009 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction

January 22, 2009

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ – George “Pinky” Nelson, William M. Shepherd and James D. Wetherbee will join an elite group of American space heroes as they are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame(R) during a public ceremony at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Saturday, May 2, 2009. They will be welcomed to the ranks of legendary space pioneers like Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Jim Lovell, Sally Ride and John Young – distinguished members of this unique Hall of Fame.

This is the eighth group of Space Shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Earlier inductees represent the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The addition of Nelson, one of only four space shuttle astronauts to fly the Manned Maneuvering Unit untethered in space; Shepherd, commander of the first crew to man the International Space Station; and Wetherbee, commander of the longest docked shuttle-Mir mission, will bring the number of space explorers enshrined in the Hall of Fame to 73.

The 2009 inductees were selected by a committee of current Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials and flight directors, historians, journalists and other space authorities. The process is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 1984 to support students seeking degrees in science and technology.

George “Pinky” Nelson (Ph.D.) was a member of the first spacewalking team to repair a satellite in-orbit. He flew three space shuttle missions during the 11 years he was in the Astronaut Corps, from 1978 to 1989. Currently, Nelson serves as Director of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education at Western Washington University.

A four-time space shuttle astronaut, William M. Shepherd (Captain, USN) commanded the first mission to the International Space Station (ISS), living and working aboard the outpost for 141 days, from October 2000 to March 2001. Shepherd is a recipient of the prestigious Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He also went on to become a civilian engineer assigned to the staff of the Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, to assist with the development of new capabilities and programs for the SEALs and Special Boat Sailors of Tomorrow.

James D. Wetherbee (Captain, USN Ret.) commanded five of the six space shuttle missions he flew during his 19 years in the NASA Astronaut Corps, from May of 1984 through May 2003. Wetherbee also served as Deputy Director and Director of Flight Crew Operations for the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. Today, he serves as a safety auditor with BP.

The public is invited to witness heroes honoring heroes at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, May 2, 2009. Admission to the Induction Ceremony is included with admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

About the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation:

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation participated in creating a venue where space travelers could be remembered – the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, which opened in 1990. Since 2002, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at KSC, Inc., operators of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA, has operated the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Foundation’s mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships to exceptional college students pursuing these degrees. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $2.6 million to deserving students nationwide. For more information, log on to www.AstronautScholarship.org or call 321-455-7012.

SOURCE Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Source: newswire

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