Astronaut Group 8

Astronaut Group 8

NASA's Astronaut Group 8 was the first selection in nine years of astronaut candidates since Astronaut Group 7 in 1969. Due to the long delay between the last Apollo mission and the first flight of the Space Shuttle in 1981, few astronauts from the older groups stayed with NASA. Thus in 1978 a new group of 35 astronauts was selected after nine years without new astronauts, including the first female astronauts, and also the first black astronaut Guion Bluford. Since then, a new group of candidates has been selected roughly every two years.

In Astronaut Group 8, two different astronaut groups were formed: pilots and mission specialists. Additionally the shuttle program has payload specialists who are selected for a single mission and are not part of the astronaut corps - among them were mostly scientists, also a few politicians and many international astronauts.

Of the first of the post-Apollo group, Sally Ride would become the first American woman in space (STS-7). Later, she would fly with Kathryn Sullivan on a Shuttle flight, in which Sullivan would become the first American woman to perform an EVA. Dr. Thagard, who flew with Ride on STS-7, would later become the first American to be launched on a Russian rocket (Soyuz TM-18 or "Mir-18") to the Mir space station, while Shannon Lucid would serve on the Mir for slightly over 6 months, breaking all American space duration records (both the Skylab 4 record and Thagard's) in 1996-97. Of this group, Scobee, Resnik, Onizuka, and McNair would perish in the Challenger Disaster. Of the astronauts chosen, only Steve Hawley, Shannon Lucid, and Anna Fisher still remain on active duty, while Robert Gibson and Rhea Seddon became the first active duty astronauts to marry (both are now retired). After the Challenger Disaster, Sally Ride would serve on both the Rogers Commission and the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

Group members

*Guion Bluford - Mission Specialist:STS-8, STS-61-A, STS-39, STS-53
*Daniel Brandenstein - Pilot:STS-8, STS-51-G, STS-32, STS-49
*James Buchli - Mission Specialist:STS-51-C, STS-61-A, STS-29, STS-48
*Michael Coats - Pilot:STS-41-D, STS-29, STS-39
*Richard Covey - Pilot:STS-51-I, STS-26, STS-38, STS-61
*John Creighton - Pilot:STS-51-G, STS-36, STS-48
*John Fabian - Mission Specialist:STS-7, STS-51-G
*Anna Fisher - Mission Specialist:STS-51-A
*Dale Gardner - Mission Specialist:STS-8, STS-51-A
*Robert Gibson - Pilot:STS-41-B, STS-61-C, STS-27, STS-47, STS-71
*Frederick D. Gregory - Pilot:STS-51-B, STS-33, STS-44
*S. David Griggs - Mission Specialist:STS-51-D
*Terry Hart - Mission Specialist:STS-41-C
*Frederick Hauck - Pilot:STS-7, STS-51-A, STS-26
*Steven Hawley - Mission Specialist:STS-41-D, STS-61-C, STS-31, STS-82, STS-93
*Jeffrey Hoffman - Mission Specialist:STS-51-D, STS-35, STS-46, STS-61, STS-75
*Shannon Lucid - Mission Specialist:STS-51-G, STS-34, STS-43, STS-58, STS-76, Mir NASA-1, STS-79
*Jon McBride - Pilot:STS-41-G
*Ronald McNair - Mission Specialist:STS-41-B, STS-51-L:Died in the Challenger accident.
*Richard Mullane - Mission Specialist:STS-41-D, STS-27, STS-36
*Steven Nagel - Mission Specialist:STS-51-G, STS-61-A, STS-37, STS-55
*George Nelson - Mission Specialist:STS-41-C, STS-61-C, STS-26
*Ellison Onizuka - Mission Specialist:STS-51-C, STS-51-L:Died in the Challenger accident.
*Judith Resnik - Mission Specialist:STS-41-D, STS-51-L:Died in the Challenger accident.
*Sally Ride - Mission Specialist:STS-7, STS-41-G:First American woman in space.
*Francis "Dick" Scobee - Pilot:STS-41-C, STS-51-L:Died in the Challenger accident.
*Rhea Seddon - Mission Specialist:STS-51-D, STS-40, STS-58
*Brewster Shaw - Pilot:STS-9, STS-61-B, STS-28
*Loren Shriver - Pilot:STS-51-C, STS-31, STS-46
*Robert Stewart - Mission Specialist:STS-41-B, STS-51-J
*Kathryn Sullivan - Mission Specialist:STS-41-G, STS-31, STS-45
*Norman Thagard - Mission Specialist:STS-7, STS-51-B, STS-30, STS-42, Soyuz TM-21, Mir EO-18, STS-71
*James van Hoften - Mission Specialist:STS-41-C, STS-51-I
*David Walker - Pilot:STS-51-A, STS-30, STS-53, STS-69
*Donald Williams - Pilot:STS-51-D, STS-34

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