Collins, Brown and Dunbar Join U. S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
Shuttle commanders Eileen Collins and Curt Brown join scientist and payload commander Bonnie Dunbar as the latest astronauts to earn a place in the U. S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Their April 20 induction at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida will mark the first ceremonies in which two women are inducted at the same time. The hall was established near Titusville in 1990.
Collins, a retired U. S. Air Force test pilot, earned distinctions as the first woman to command and pilot a shuttle mission. Her commands included the 2005 return to flight mission aboard shuttle Discovery that followed the 2003 Columbia tragedy. Her first command, aboard Columbia in July 1999, featured the deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, a Hubble sibling. On her first flight, in 1995, Collins served as the pilot aboard Discovery on a mission that rendezvoused with Russia’s former Mir space station.
She was selected by NASA for astronaut training in 1990.
Brown, also a retired U. S. Air Force test pilot, joined six shuttle missions after his selection for astronaut training in 1987. He commanded Discovery on a 1998 mission that included U. S. Sen. John Glenn, the former Mercury astronaut, among his crew. His last flight, a year later, led another Discovery crew for a rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope and a round of upgrades to the well known orbital observatory.
As a member of NASA’s Mission Control team, Dunbar participated in preparations for the de-orbiting of the Skylab space station in 1979, prior to her selection for astronaut training. A mechanical/biomedical engineer, she served aboard five shuttle missions, including the first to dock with Mir in 1995. On her last flight, in 1998, Dunbar returned to Mir as the shuttle mission’s payload commander.
Subsequently, she served as an assistant director at the Johnson Space Center and deputy associate director for Biological Sciences and Applications. Dunbar retired from the space agency in 2005 to join the Seattle Museum of Flight as president and chief executive officer.
The newest astronauts to join the hall of fame were selected by a panel of former NASA officials, flight directors, astronauts, 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 have been retired for at least five years.