Three extraordinary men, Franklin R. Chang-Dìaz, Kevin P. Chilton and Charles J. Precourt will join an elite group of American space heroes as they are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida to be held Saturday, May 5, 2012. These men will be welcomed to the ranks of legendary space pioneers like Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Jim Lovell, Sally Ride and John Young – all equally distinguished Hall of Fame members.
This makes the eleventh 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 Dr. Chang-Dìaz, a veteran of seven space shuttle flights who has logged more than 1,601 hours in space; General Chilton, the pilot on space shuttle Endeavour’s maiden voyage and the commander of STS-76; and Colonel Precourt, who served as shuttle mission specialist, pilot and spacecraft commander, will bring the number of space explorers enshrined in the Hall of Fame to 82.
During Dr. Chang-Diaz’ 25 years in the astronaut program, he became one of only two astronauts to fly on seven space shuttle missions. His more than 1,601 hours in space is a total that includes 19 hours and 31 minutes accumulated during three spacewalks. Dr. Chang-Dìaz’ missions aboard the space shuttle include STS-61-C, STS-34, STS-46, STS-60, STS-75, STS-91, and STS-111.
Dr. Chang-Diaz retired from NASA in July 2005 and then founded Ad Astra Rocket Company, a company dedicated to the development of advanced plasma rocket propulsion technology. Ad Astra’s efforts led to the production of a rocket that has the theoretical capability of carrying a manned mission to Mars in just 39 days.
General Kevin P. Chilton, a three-time space shuttle astronaut (general, USAF, retired), has logged more than 704 hours in space. He has served as the pilot on STS-49 and STS-59, and as the commander of STS-76.
Gen. Chilton also received four stars before retiring from the Air Force on February 1, 2011 after an 11-year career. Gen. Chilton’s most recent serve as commander, United States Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, was a position in which he was responsible for the global command and control of the U.S. strategic forces to meet decisive national security objectives.
Colonel Charles J. Precourt, (colonel, USAF, retired), spent 15 years in the space program, a period of service in which he participated in four space flights logging a total of 932 hours in space. Col. Precourt served as mission specialist on STS-55, pilot on STS-71, and commander on STS-84 and STS-91.
After leaving NASA in March 2005, Col. Precourt went to work for ATK Aerospace Systems of Magna, Utah. He currently serves as general manager and vice president of Space Launch Systems for ATK.
The 2012 inductees will also be joining Karol J. “Bo” Bobko, a shuttle commander who flew two orbiters’ first flights; and Susan J. Helms, a spacewalker who sets a world record outside the International Space Station, who were enshrined into the U.S. Astronauts Hall of Fame in 2011.
U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® ceremony, a standing-room only event, will be held May 5, 2012 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. What a wonderful contribution they’ve all made to our world, and what an honor. Check back with P.K. and Examiner Events for updates and further info.
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