The first American to command five space missions, the first commander of the International Space Station (ISS) and a member of the first repair team to service a satellite on-orbit will be enshrined this May in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
James Wetherbee, William Shepherd and George "Pinky" Nelson were confirmed on Wednesday by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation as comprising the eighth group of space shuttle astronauts to be named to the Hall. A gala and an induction ceremony will be hosted at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, home to the Hall of Fame, on May 1-2, 2009.
The addition of the three men will bring the Hall's number of enshrined space explorers to 73, which includes all of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab astronauts. The 2009 members were selected by a committee of current Hall of Fame inductees, former NASA officials and flight directors, historians and journalists.
To be eligible, the 2009 astronauts had to have made his or her first flight in 1992 or earlier, and have been retired for at least five years from NASA's corps. The candidates were required to be U.S. citizens, and have been trained by NASA as a commander, pilot or mission specialist. In addition, they had to have completed at least one orbit of the Earth.
The public is invited to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Saturday, May 2, 2009.
Click through to collectSPACE.com to read more about the three astronaut inductees.
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