Astronauts are superlative people. By virtue of their professional training alone, astronauts are multifaceted individuals with an impressive skill set that may include fighter pilot, scientist, medical doctor and engineer. With such stellar resumes, shouldn’t all astronauts be qualified for the Hall of Fame? Currently there are approximately 500 people on Earth who have been in the astronaut business, with approximately 300 of those being Americans. Yet, approximately 100 of American astronauts have been inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. For this particular honor, it’s not enough to travel to space – candidates must also qualify for induction based on specific criteria.
Selected by a committee of former NASA officials, flight directors, historians, journalists and other Hall of Fame astronauts, the process to induct selected candidates is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Committee members vote for 5 candidates by awarding 1 to 5 points for each with the most points designated for their top choice. Eligibility is based on many factors, including U.S. citizenship and NASA training as a pilot, commander or mission specialist who orbited the Earth at least once. Candidates’ individual contributions to the American space program may also factor into the decision. Timing is determined by an astronaut’s first flight: 17 years must have passed since the candidate’s first trip to space.
Each year, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is hosted at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Though the venue may vary, the pomp and circumstance consistently honors the inductees as they join the ranks of the astronaut elite. In addition to the newly inducted, many other Hall of Fame astronauts join the ceremony to welcome their peers. Opportunities to meet astronauts multiply during induction event weekend, including autograph signing sessions and live “Tell Me A Story: Astronaut Tales” presentations available to all visitors.