Five former space shuttle fliers were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday, including the first American woman to perform a spacewalk, the first black to lead a space mission and the commander of the doomed Challenger.
June Scobee Rodgers accepted the medal on behalf of her late husband, Dick Scobee, who died aboard Challenger in 1986.
"I want to thank you all for honoring Dick Scobee. So many times he's been remembered for how he died. Thank you for remembering how he lived," Rodgers said.
Also honored at the Kennedy Space Center ceremony:
- Kathryn Sullivan, who in 1984 became America's first female spacewalker.
- Frederick Gregory, who in 1989 became the first black to serve as a spaceship commander and now is the No. 2 man at NASA.
- Norman Thagard, who in 1995 became the first American to be launched aboard a Russian spacecraft and to live aboard the Mir station.
- Richard Covey, who served as the pilot of the first post-Challenger shuttle flight and as the commander of the 1993 mission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope's blurred vision.
The crowd, which numbered well into the hundreds, included 18 astronauts already enshrined in the Hall of Fame, a few of them moonwalkers. This was the third group of shuttle astronauts to be inducted.
All four of the surviving Mercury Seven astronauts were there: John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra and Gordon Cooper.
"As a young boy in the panhandle of Florida, I used to fight my older brother Dean for the Life magazines when they came in, so I could read about these guys," Covey said, pointing to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts seated to his right. "They were great role models for me."