To be selected as one of only approximately 500 men and women in the world to travel in space – out of a total world population of more than 6 billion – is certainly prestigious. To be further honored as an inductee into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame is even rarer. So far, fewer than 90 astronauts have been selected by a panel of their peers to join this elite group, and you are invited to meet them all – represented by stunning etched-glass portraits and mission patches – in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame’s Hall of Heroes.
Also, look back in time at what it was like to be one of America’s very first astronauts – one of the brave test pilots and military men who made up the “Mercury 7” and soon after, the astronauts of the Gemini and Apollo programs. Browse the world’s most comprehensive collection of astronaut artifacts and memorabilia, including Wally Schirra's Sigma 7 Mercury spacecraft, John Glenn’s Friendship 7 jumpsuit, and Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 flight suit and helmet. See personal effects from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts, including Jim Lovell’s Boy Scout handbook and Buzz Aldrin’s high school football jersey, as well as sports trophies, uniforms from various astronauts’ U.S. Armed Forces careers, and even their childhood report cards!
Colorful timelines demonstrate what was happening in the world as America raced to space, from the emergence of a strange new musical group called The Beatles to the release of Walt Disney’s revolutionary motion picture, “Mary Poppins.” Look back at the media coverage from our most daring accomplishments in space thanks to a vast collection of newspaper and magazine covers that have been preserved for posterity, and pay tribute to some of America’s favorite journalists and newscasters, such as Walter Cronkite.
And, discover facts you aren’t likely to find elsewhere, such as why NASA wanted to end the tradition of designing patches for each mission, and how the agency selected who would first set foot on the moon. The answers are more complex than you might think!
You’ll also find a stirring tribute to Mercury 7 astronaut, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, as well as Gemini astronauts, Roger Chaffee and Ed White, who lost their lives in the launch pad fire of Apollo 1. It was, in fact, the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts who opened the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990, a place where space travelers could be remembered, much like baseball players and other sports figures.
Reliving the early days of the space race is just part of your experience, however. You’ll also get to try hands-on activities and exciting training simulators that give you a feel for what these brave astronaut heroes learned and experienced before traveling in space. Try your hand at making a space rendezvous or practice landing the space shuttle. If you’re feeling brave, test your stomach in the Space Sickness simulator. Grab a friend and play Gravball, a futuristic game of zero-gravity or step into our 3D motion simulator to experience a “Mission to Mars.” At Science on a Sphere, a variety of scientific concepts dealing with the atmosphere, the oceans and our solar system are brought to life, projected onto a massive globe to give you the perspective of observing from space. These activities and more await you at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.