Former astronaut Hoot Gibson gave his wife, Rhea Seddon, an awesome 34th wedding anniversary present underneath space shuttle Atlantis — he inducted her as part of the 14th class of astronauts into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
John Grunsfeld, Steven Lindsey, Kent Rominger and Seddon were enshrined during a ceremony May 30 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on the 25th anniversary of the Hall of Fame.
The event marked the first time an astronaut has inducted their spouse into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
“Well, this has never happened before,” Gibson said. “This is really a thrill for me.”
Grunsfeld was selected as a NASA astronaut in March 1992. A five-flight veteran, he has logged more than 58 days in space, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of extravehicular activity (EVA) over the course of eight spacewalks.
Grunsfeld’s first flight was STS-67 aboard Endeavour as a mission specialist, launching March 2, 1995.
“My first real launch was off the kitchen counter when I was 5,” Grunsfeld said.
Grunsfeld served as flight engineer on his second flight, STS-81 Atlantis.
Grunsfeld returned to space aboard Discovery on Dec. 19, 1999. As a mission specialist on STS-103, the third Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing mission, Grunsfeld performed two of the three EVAs required to enhance HST scientific capabilities, installing three new rate sensors, a data recorder and a transmitter.
STS-109 Columbia launched March 1, 2002, and was the fourth HST servicing mission. As payload commander, Grunsfeld was responsible for the five EVAs over five consecutive days required to upgrade the Hubble’s systems. He performed three of these spacewalks.
STS-125 Atlantis, launched May 11, 2009, was the fifth HST servicing mission. Grunsfeld served as the lead once again for the five EVAs, performing three of them.
Grunsfeld currently is NASA’s associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
“We learned how to do it is put together wonderful teams of people to achieve great things,” Grunsfeld said. “We’ve been able to solve these high-performance challenges with teams of people with vision, drive and enthusiasm. I feel privileged to have been a member of some of those teams.”
Steven Lindsey was selected as a NASA astronaut in March 1995. A veteran of five space shuttle flights, Lindsey has logged more than 1,510 hours in space.
Lindsey first flew in space Nov. 19, 1997, as pilot of STS-87 Columbia. During one of STS-87’s spacewalks, Lindsey piloted the first flight of the AERCam Sprint, a free-flying robotic camera.
As pilot of Discovery, Lindsey returned to space alongside Sen. John Glenn on STS-95, which launched Oct. 29, 1998.
Lindsey’s first mission as commander was STS-104, the 10th International Space Station (ISS) assembly mission. After launching July 12, 2001, the crew of Atlantis rendezvoused with the ISS and conducted joint operations with the Expedition 2 crew.
Lindsey next commanded STS-121 Discovery which launched July 4, 2006, the second Return to Flight test mission after the Columbia mishap.
STS-133 saw Lindsey commanding the 39th and final flight of Discovery, launched on Feb. 24, 2011. The crew docked with the ISS and delivered the Permanent Multipurpose Module, an Express Logistics Carrier, and Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot in space.
Lindsey currently is the senior director for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Explorations Systems, where he is responsible for the design, development, testing and operational employment of the Dream Chaser orbital crew and cargo transportation system.
“I think it’s important to preserve the history, to tell the story, to inspire next generations to come forward and take our place and do better than we did,” Lindsey said. “If we can do something to inspire kids to see the value of hard work and the importance of working toward something that you’re passionate about, then it’s all worth it. It’s not about us.”
“As a young kid I was very inspired by the Mercury 7 astronauts,” Rominger said. “I can’t believe I am part of a group that includes my heroes. I’ve loved being part of the team.”
Rominger was selected by NASA to become an astronaut in 1992. A veteran of five space shuttle missions, he has logged more than 1,600 hours in space.
Rominger first launched as pilot of Columbia on Oct. 20, 1995. STS-73 was the second United States Microgravity Laboratory mission focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, and numerous scientific experiments.
Rominger returned to space aboard Columbia once more as pilot of STS-80. The mission launched Nov. 19, 1996.
STS-85 Discovery, Rominger’s third mission as pilot, launched Aug. 7, 1997.
Rominger’s first mission as commander was STS-96 Discovery, which launched on May 27, 1999. During training, Rominger helped discover the ISS orientation maneuver resulting in significant lateral translation of the ISS. He helped optimize the maneuver to save hundreds of pounds of propellants.
During his final mission, STS-100 Endeavour, which launched April 19, 2001, Rominger commanded a diverse international crew, representing the United States, Russia, Canada and Italy. Together they installed the Canadian-built Robotic Arm and Rafaello Logistics Module to the ISS.
Rominger retired from NASA in 2006 to accept a position with ATK Launch Systems.
“This group is all about giving back to our community. We’re trying to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to better our space program, our nation and ideally, the entire globe.”
“Being part of the first group of women astronauts, there was a particular pressure on us to do well,” Seddon said. “If I did something wrong or made a big mistake, people wouldn’t say, ‘Rhea Seedon made a mistake,’ they would say ‘women couldn’t do this job.’ There was extra pressure on us back then.”
Rhea Seddon, M.D., is one of NASA’s first female astronauts, who served as a mission specialist and payload commander on three life sciences missions.
Seddon was selected by NASA in January 1978 and became an astronaut in August 1979 as part of the first U.S. astronaut class to include women. A three-flight veteran, she has logged more than 722 hours in space.
Seddon lifted off aboard Discovery on her first mission, STS-51D, on April 12, 1985. As mission specialist, she performed numerous science and medical experiments, including two “Getaway Specials,” the Toys in Space demonstration, and the first ultrasound of a human heart in space.
She returned to space on June 5, 1991, on STS-40 Columbia, again serving as mission specialist. This mission, the first Spacelab Life Sciences flight (SLS-1), saw the crew performing numerous experiments which explored how humans, animals and cells respond to microgravity and re-adapt to Earth’s gravity upon return.
As payload commander on her third and final flight, STS-58, which launched Oct.18, 1993, Seddon was in charge of all science activities aboard Columbia.
After leaving NASA in 1997, Seddon served as the assistant chief medical officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group in Nashville for 11 years. There she led an initiative aimed at improving patient safety, quality of care, and team effectiveness by the use of an aviation-based model of crew resource management. Now with LifeWings Partners, she acts as a consultant to healthcare institutions across the United States. Recently, she has written a memoir, entitled “Go for Orbit,” to inspire young women to pursue careers in science and technology.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1990 by the six remaining Mercury astronauts as a place where space explorers could be remembered. This year’s inductees comprise the 14th group of space shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of members to 91.
The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will relocate to the visitor complex from its current location across the Indian River. A groundbreaking ceremony took place May 29 at the visitor complex for the “Heroes and Legends” attraction opening in 2016.