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Veteran Space Shuttle Astronauts Selected for 2008 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (January 9, 2008)John E. Blaha, Robert D. Cabana, Bryan D. O'Connor and Loren J. Shriver will join an elite group of American space heroes as they are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® during a public ceremony at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Saturday, May 3, 2008. They will be welcomed to the ranks of legendary space pioneers like Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Jim Lovell, Sally Ride and John Young ? distinguished members of this unique Hall of Fame.
This is the seventh 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 Blaha, the third American to live aboard the Russian Mir Space Station; Cabana, the commander of the first International Space Station assembly mission; O'Connor, commander of the first shuttle mission dedicated to life sciences; and Shriver, commander of the mission to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope, will bring the number of space explorers enshrined in the Astronaut Hall of Fame to 70. 
The 2008 inductees were selected by a committee of current Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials and flight directors, historians, journalists and other space authorities. The process is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, created in 1984 to support students seeking careers in science and technology. 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 at least five years from NASA's astronaut corps. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen, NASA-trained and must have orbited the earth at least once. Committee members receiving ballots 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.
John E. Blaha (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) became an astronaut in 1980 and over the span of 17 years flew on five Space Shuttle missions and one long-duration Space Station flight. An Air Force aviator and test pilot, Blaha first piloted Discovery on STS-29, the third flight following the tragic loss of Challenger. His second flight was as pilot of STS-33, which was only the third night launch in shuttle history. Blaha served as commander on his third and fourth missions, STS-43 and STS-58. During STS-43, the crew deployed the West Tracking and Data Relay Satellite and conducted experiments supporting the development of the Extended Duration Orbiter and Space Station. STS-58 saw a record 14-day life science research mission recognized by NASA management as the most successful and efficient Spacelab flight that NASA has flown. Blaha launched on his final mission aboard STS-79, which docked to the Russian Mir Space Station. The third American to live on the outpost, he set an American men's space record for time in space during his four months on orbit. Blaha also served on several NASA panels, including chairing the NASA Flight Safety Panel. He led the design, development, and integration of the Orbiter Heads-Up Display system and the contingency abort procedures which significantly improved crew survivability in the event of multiple main engine failures. Blaha retired from NASA in 1997 to return to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, where he joined the Executive Management Group of the United Services Automobile Association (USAA).
Robert D. Cabana (Colonel, USMC, Ret.) flew four Space Shuttle missions, including commander of the first mission to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). Cabana piloted Discovery on his first flight, STS-41, five years after his selection as an astronaut. Discovery's crew deployed the Ulysses spacecraft, which is still in operation around the Sun. His second flight as a pilot, STS-53, was a Department of Defense mission. Cabana commanded STS-65, during which he and his crew set a record for the longest Space Shuttle mission while conducting the second International Microgravity Laboratory mission, a model flight for the science operations on the ISS. Cabana's fourth and final flight was as commander of STS-88, the first ISS assembly mission. At the helm of Endeavour, Cabana and his crew carried the first U.S. built module, Unity, and mated it with the Russian's Zarya Control Module to form the basis of the station. Cabana served as Deputy Chief of NASA's Aircraft Operations Division and Chief of the Astronaut Office. He was Johnson Space Center's Deputy Director for three and a half years until October 2007. Cabana is currently the Director of NASA's Stennis Space Center.
Bryan D. O'Connor (Colonel, USMC, Ret.) flew two Space Shuttle missions before becoming NASA's Chief of Safety and Mission Assurance. O'Connor was pilot on STS-61B, the second-ever night shuttle launch, deploying four satellites and testing the assembly of structures in space. It was the heaviest payload weight carried to orbit by the Space Shuttle to date. He was then commander of STS-40, the first shuttle mission dedicated to life science studies. His crew performed an extensive series of biomedical experiments. O'Connor left NASA in 1991 to become commanding officer of the Marine Aviation Detachment, Naval Air Test Center, but within a year returned to become the Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Flight. He led the redesign of the space station and was named acting Space Station Program Director and Space Shuttle Director before leaving NASA again in 1996 to serve as an aerospace consultant. In 2002, O'Connor again rejoined the agency, this time as Associate Administrator, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance. In 2004, his title changed to Chief, Safety and Mission Assurance, reflecting his office's responsibility for the safety, reliability, maintainability and quality assurance of all NASA programs.
Loren J. Shriver (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) was selected as an astronaut with the first class of shuttle astronauts in 1978. Shriver first flew as pilot of STS-51C, a classified Department of Defense mission. On his second flight, he commanded a crew of five on STS-31, which deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, beginning its nearly 20 years of service imaging the universe. Shriver's third and last flight was as commander on STS-46, deploying the European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA) satellite, an ESA-sponsored free-flying science platform, and conducting the first Tethered Satellite System (TSS) test flight, a joint project between NASA and the Italian Space Agency. Prior to taking a position as the Vice President of Engineering and Integration Chief Technology Officer at United Space Alliance (USA), he was USA's Vice President and Deputy Program Manager. Shriver was previously Deputy Director of Kennedy Space Center from 1997-2000.
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 3, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.
The Induction Ceremony is included with admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Special Induction weekend ticket packages are available for $70 plus tax for adults and $50 plus tax for children and include the following:
  • Two-day Admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
  • Reserved seating at the Induction Ceremony at 3:00 p.m.
  • A special Lunch With the Astronauts on May 3 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Commemorative souvenir poster featuring the 2008 Inductees
U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction weekend tickets are available by telephone at 321-449-4400 or online at Local accommodations are also available.
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, Delaware North Companies 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 $2.5 million to deserving students. For more information, log on to or call 321-455-7012.
Editor's Note: Individual photos of the Inductees are available at or via e-mail by contacting Andrea Farmer at or 321-449-4318 or Jillian McRae at or 321-449-4273.