On Friday, May 19, NASA inducted two of its veteran astronauts into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Former NASA astronauts Ellen Ochoa and Michael Foale were conferred the honor for setting an example for young people and keeping calm under pressure during important missions.
Ochoa is the first Hispanic woman to step into space. Foale is the first and only American to reside on Russia’s Mir Space Station and the International Space Station. Both the veteran astronauts were honored in a ceremony held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Bob Cabana, the current director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, presided over the ceremony. Cabana is also a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame and was inducted in 2008. With the inclusion of Foale and Ochoa, the total number of NASA astronauts honored rose to 95.
NASA Veterans Enter Astronaut Hall Of Fame: Who is Ochoa?
Ochoa is a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and joined NASA as a research engineer in 1988. Her first posting was at NASA’s Ames Research Center and in 1990, she was transferred to the Johnson Space Center after getting selected as an astronaut candidate.
Currently, the 59-year old veteran astronaut serves as the director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She is the first Hispanic woman and the second female director at the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa has flown four shuttle missions, with her first in 1993 and the last in 2002. The NASA astronaut served as a specialist on the STS-56 space mission in 1993 and as a Payload Commander on STS-66 in 1994.
In 1999, Ochoa served the role of a mission specialist and flight engineer for the STS-96 space mission. In 2002, on her last flight STS-110, the veteran astronaut served as a flight engineer.
Astronaut Hall Of Fame: Who Is Foale?
Sixty-year-old Foale is best known for his five-month long stay on the Mir Space station in 1997. Foale hails from Cambridge, UK, and is doctorate in laboratory astrophysics. Foale also hold a U.S. citizenship and was chosen as an astronaut candidate in June 1987. Foale was a part of six space shuttle missions, namely STS-45, STS-56, STS-63, STS-84, STS-103, and Soyuz TMA-3.
During his famed five-month long stay at the Russian Mir Space Station, Foale assisted others to re-establish the Russian space center after a Progress supply ship crashed at the outpost, causing the space station to depressurize and lose power.
“That mission I thought was just going to be kind of a ho-hum for me research mission, but it wasn’t. It became one of the most rewarding experiences in a weird and odd way, even though so much trouble befell that mission,” Foale recounted later.
With all his space missions, Foale logged-in more than 374 days in space which included four space walks.