They are being 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 the Hall of Fame.
This induction is the twelfth group of space shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and the first time two women will be inducted at the same time. These retired space shuttle astronauts also share a commonality in their spaceflight history, as they each flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis during their careers. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex welcomes these former Atlantis astronauts to the Hall of Fame in the same year as the opening of space shuttle Atlantis’ new home. The 90,000ft² interactive experience, scheduled to open in July 2013, tells the story of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program and highlights the future of space exploration.
Earlier inductees represent the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The addition of Curt Brown, a veteran of six space shuttle flights; Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command a space shuttle; and Bonnie Dunbar, who served as a shuttle mission specialist and payload commander, brings the number of space explorers enshrined in the Hall of Fame to 85.
Curt Brown is a retired NASA astronaut and a retired United States Air Force colonel. Brown, a veteran of six spaceflights, began his career with NASA in 1987 as a pilot and has logged more than 1,383 hours in space. Brown’s missions aboard the space shuttle include STS-47, STS-66, STS-77, STS-85, STS-95 and STS-103.
Brown served as pilot on his first spaceflight in 1992 aboard space shuttle Endeavour. The STS-47 Spacelab-J mission was an eight-day cooperative research between the United States and Japan focused on experiments in life and material sciences.
Serving as pilot again aboard space shuttle Atlantis on STS-66 in November 1994, Brown assisted the crew as it performed an Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science-3 (ATLAS-3) mission to determine the Earth's energy balance and atmospheric change over an 11-year solar cycle.
Brown’s missions into space include numerous scientific achievements. On STS-77, his third time as pilot, Brown assisted the crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour as it performed a record number of rendezvous sequences, including the deployment and retrieval of a Spartan satellite, which carried the Inflatable Antenna Experiment designed to test the concept of large inflatable space structures. A small Satellite Test Unit was also deployed to test the concept of self-stabilization by using aerodynamic forces and magnetic damping.
Brown commanded a 12-day mission aboard space shuttle Discovery on his fourth spaceflight in August 1997. The focus of STS-85 was to deploy and retrieve the CRISTA-SPAS payload, operated by the Japanese Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD) robotic arm. This satellite allowed the crew to study changes in the Earth’s atmosphere and test technology destined for use on the future International Space Station.
In the fall of 1998, Brown was commander of Discovery when Senator John Glenn returned to space on STS-95. The crew supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform. A year later, Brown commanded Discovery on STS-103. The focus of this mission was to install new instruments and upgraded systems on the Hubble Space Telescope.
During his time at NASA, Brown served as the Astronaut Office Lead of Shuttle Operations and deputy director of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate. He retired from NASA for a position in the private sector. He is a member of the U.S. Air Force Association, the United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates, the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Classic Jet Aircraft Association.
Eileen Collins is a retired NASA astronaut and a retired United States Air Force colonel. Revered for commanding STS-114 on the Return to Flight mission following the space shuttle Columbia disaster, Collins’ career with NASA is full of accomplishments, including becoming the first woman space shuttle pilot and the first woman commander. As a four-time spaceflight veteran, Collins logged more than 872 hours in space and her missions include STS-63, STS-84, STS-93 and STS-114.
On her first spaceflight in 1995, Collins made history as she took the controls of Discovery on STS-63 and became the first female space shuttle pilot. STS-63 mission highlights in space include a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian Space Station Mir. The crew also performed the deployment and retrieval of an astronomy satellite and completed a spacewalk.
Collins’ second spaceflight was aboard space shuttle Atlantis on STS-84, which was the sixth Shuttle-Mir docking mission for NASA. The highlight of this mission was the transfer of the fourth U.S. crew member to the Russian space station.
In July 1999, Collins became the first woman to command a space shuttle on STS-93. The crew aboard space shuttle Columbia deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, a telescope designed to conduct comprehensive studies of the universe. This telescope has enabled scientists to study exotic phenomena such as exploding stars, quasars and black holes.
Collins commanded a shuttle for the second time in 2005 on the Return to Flight mission following the Columbia incident. The STS-114 crew docked the space shuttle at the International Space Station to test and evaluate new procedures for flight safety, shuttle inspection and repair techniques.
Collins retired from NASA in 2006 to spend more time with her family and pursue other interests. Since her retirement from NASA, Collins has worked with CNN as a space shuttle analyst, covering shuttle launches and landings. Currently, Collins serves as an advisor to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and as a consultant in the aerospace industry.
Five-time spaceflight veteran Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D., is a celebrated astronaut who has received numerous honors, including NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Award in 1993 and NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 1998 and 1991. During her career with NASA, she served as a mission specialist and a payload commander. Dunbar logged 1,208 hours in space and her spaceflights include STS 61-A, STS-32, STS-50, STS-71 and STS-89.
Dunbar’s first spaceflight, STS-61A, was on space shuttle Challenger in 1985. The payload activities of this mission were controlled from the German Space Operations Center near Munich. As a mission specialist, Dunbar was responsible for operating the German Spacelab and performing more than 75 scientific experiments. As a mission specialist on Columbia STS-32, Dunbar helped successfully deploy the Syncom IV-F5 satellite and retrieved the 21,400 pound Long Duration Exposure Facility using the remote manipulator system.
Dunbar’s achievements in space contributed to setting various benchmarks for NASA. As the payload commander on STS-50 in 1992, Dunbar helped complete the first dedicated United States Micro-gravity Laboratory flight, which laid the groundwork for Space Station Freedom science operations. The Space Station Freedom project was originally planned to be a permanently manned Earth-orbiting space station in the 1980s, but it was never constructed or completed as designed. The Freedom project evolved into the International Space Station program.
In 1995, Dunbar flew aboard Atlantis on STS-71, the first space shuttle to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. As a mission specialist, Dunbar assisted with the transportation of a Spacelab module in the payload bay. This mission also involved an exchange of Mir crews. The STS-71 crew performed medical evaluations on the returning Mir crew. These evaluations included ascertaining the effects of weightlessness on the cardio/vascular system, the bone/muscle system, the immune system and the cardio/pulmonary system.
On her final mission in January of 1998, Dunbar served as payload commander on STS-89, the eighth Shuttle-Mir docking mission. The crew transferred more than 9,000 pounds of scientific equipment, logistical hardware and water from space shuttle Endeavour to Mir. Dunbar was responsible for all payload activities and conducted 23 technology and science experiments.
During her time with NASA, Dunbar served as assistant director to Johnson Space Center and deputy associate director for Biological Sciences and Applications. Dunbar retired from NASA in September 2005 to serve as president and chief executive officer of the Seattle Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.
The 2013 inductees were selected by a committee of current Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials, flight directors, historians and journalists. The process is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. To be eligible, an astronaut must have made his or her first flight at least 17 years before the induction year and must be retired at least five years from the NASA astronaut corps. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen, NASA-trained, commander, pilot or mission specialist and must have orbited the earth at least once.