KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. (January 25, 2007) – Michael L. Coats, Steven A. Hawley and Jeffrey A. Hoffman will join such American space heroes as Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Jim Lovell, Sally Ride and John Young when they are enshrined during the public ceremony at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on May 5, 2007.
This is the sixth group of Space Shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Earlier inductees represent the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The addition of Coats, director of Johnson Space Center; Hawley, who helped deploy the Hubble Space Telescope; and Hoffman, the first astronaut to log 1,000 hours aboard the space shuttle, will bring the number of space explorers enshrined in the Astronaut Hall of Fame to 66.
The inductees were selected by a committee of current Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials and flight directors, historians, journalists and other space authorities in a process administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. To be eligible, an astronaut must have made his or her first flight at least 17 years before the induction year and must be retired from NASA's astronaut corps at least five years. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen, NASA-trained and must have orbited the earth at least once. In balloting, committee members evaluate not only an individual's flight accomplishments but also how he or she contributed to the success and future success of the U.S. Space Program in post-flight assignments.
A Naval aviator, test pilot and veteran of three space shuttle missions, Michael L. Coats has logged more than 5,000 hours flying time in 28 different aircraft, and more than 400 carrier landings. He flew his first space shuttle flight as pilot of the maiden flight of Discovery. After overcoming the first pad abort of the shuttle program, Coats and his STS-41D crewmates deployed a prototype solar array and three satellites. Coats' second flight was also his first command, again aboard Discovery on mission STS-29. Only the third mission after the tragic loss of Challenger in 1986, Coats' crew deployed a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and performed a space station "heat pipe" radiator experiment. After nearly five days and 3,000 photographs taken of the Earth, Coats landed the orbiter in California. Commander Coats flew his third and final Discovery flight, STS-39, in 1991 on an unclassified Department of Defense mission. He and his crew deployed, operated and retrieved the SPAS-II spacecraft and performed research of both natural and induced phenomena in the Earth's atmosphere. Coats left NASA to pursue opportunities in the private aerospace sector, holding management positions at Loral Space Information Systems and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, where he most recently was vice president of Advance Space Transportation. In November 2005, Coats was name director of Johnson Space Center.
An astronomer selected among the first group of space shuttle astronauts, Steven A. Hawley, Ph. D has logged a total of 770 hours and 27 minutes in five space shuttle flights. He flew his first mission with fellow 2007 inductee Michael Coats aboard STS 41-D. Hawley and his fellow crewmates were dubbed the "Icebusters" after they successfully knocked ice free from the side of the orbiter using the robotic arm. Hawley next flew as mission specialist aboard STS-61C, a six day mission that landed just ten days before the Challenger accident in January 1986. He and his crew, which included Congressman Bill Nelson, deployed a SATCOM KU satellite. Hawley conducted the first quantitative observations of the shuttle "glow" upon entry into Earth's atmosphere, and was responsible for the operation of a small UV telescope housed in the cargo bay that the crew used to make observations of galactica gas clouds. The Hubble Space Telescope took center stage on Hawley's third and fourth space flights. On STS-31, Hawley and his crewmates deployed the orbiting observatory from Discovery's payload bay. Hawley returned to the Hubble seven years later during STS-82 aboard Discovery to perform upgrades to the telescope and install new equipment. Hawley operated the shuttle's 50-foot robotic arm to retrieve and re-deploy the Hubble during that 10-day mission. Hawley's final flight focused on the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which he and his STS-93 crew members deployed in July 1999. He also led the use of a small UV sensitive telescope to make broadband ultraviolet observations of a variety of solar system objects. The former deputy chief of the Astronaut Office and director of Flight Crew Operations, Hawley is now the director of Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science at Johnson Space Center.
Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Ph. D. was the first astronaut to log 1,000 hours aboard the space shuttle, with a career total of more than 1,200 hours in space. On STS-51D, Hoffman made the shuttle program's first unscheduled spacewalk in April 1985, attaching a makeshift "flyswatter" to the end of Discovery's robotic arm. The unplanned Extravehicular Activity (EVA) was performed as part of an effort by the crew to engage a malfunctioning satellite they had deployed earlier in the seven-day mission. Hoffman's second mission, STS-35, was the first shuttle flight dedicated to astronomical research, flying the ASTRO-1 ultraviolet astronomy laboratory. Next, Hoffman was named payload commander and mission specialist on STS-46. He and the crew deployed the European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA) free-flyer and conducted the first test flight of the Tethered Satellite System (TSS). Hoffman flew again with the TSS in 1996 aboard STS-75. He was also a member of the first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, STS-61, in 1993. During that flight, he performed three spacewalks to replace and install instruments inside the observatory, which in part corrected an optical flaw that had limited the Hubble's on-orbit use since being launched. After leaving the astronaut corps in 1997, Hoffman became NASA's European representative in Paris, where he worked as the liaison between the U.S. space agency and its European partners. In 2001, he was transferred by NASA to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is currently a professor of aerospace engineering in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
About the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
The public is invited to witness heroes honoring heroes at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, May 5, 2007. The Induction Ceremony is included as part of admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Special Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Weekend packages are available and include Lunch With an Astronaut and a commemorative souvenir. For more information, call 321-449-4444 or visit www.kennedyspacecenter.com.
About the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation participated in creating a venue where space travelers could be remembered ? the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, which opened in 1990. Since 2002, DNC Parks & Resorts at KSC, Inc., operators of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA, has operated the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Today, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation serves as a consultant for the Hall of Fame, which includes supervising the selection of astronauts for enshrinement into the Hall. The Foundation's mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships to exceptional college students pursuing these degrees. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $2.3 million to deserving students. For more information, log on to www.AstronautScholarship.org or call 321-269-6119.
Editor's Note: Individual photos of the Inductees are available by contacting Andrea Farmer at email@example.com or 321-449-4318 or Jillian Dick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-449-4273.