Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Group 8.

Today would have been the 62nd birthday of Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist aboard STS-51L.

Onizuka was a member of NASA Astronaut Group 8, whose moniker was "Thirty-Five New Guys"; however, the existing astronaut corps referred to these competitors as "The F---ing New Guys." (The existing corps, some of whom had been waiting ten years between the end of Apollo and the start of the shuttle program, were generally not happy about having 35 more people to compete with over a spot on the shuttle.)

At any rate, NASA Group 8 was filled with many candidates who would ultimately become some of the most famous astronauts in the history of the space program.

  • Guion Bluford would become the first black man in space.
  • Shannon Lucid would become the record-holder for time spent in space and number of missions.
  • Pinky Nelson was one-half of famed spacewalk partners Pinky and Ox, who grabbed, repaired, and placed back into orbit the SolarMax Satellite on STS-41C.
  • Sally Ride would become the first American woman in space.
  • Kathy Sullivan would become the first American woman to walk in space.
  • Norm Thagard would become the first American to fly on a Russian spacecraft.
  • James "Ox" Adrianus repaired SolarMax along with Pinky Nelson.
And Group 8 members Ronald McNair, Judith Resnick, Dick Scobee, and Ellison Onizuka all died in the Challenger disaster.
May they rest in peace.

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