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Curt Brown, Eileen Collins and Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D., join an elite group of American space heroes, as they will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 20, during a ceremony at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
They are being 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 the Hall of Fame.
This induction is the 12th group of space shuttle astronauts, named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, and the first time two women will be inducted at the same time.
These retired space shuttle astronauts also share a commonality in their space flight history, as they each flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis during their careers.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex welcomes these former Atlantis astronauts to the Hall of Fame in the same year as the opening of space shuttle Atlantis' new home. The 90,000-square-foot interactive, experience, scheduled to open in July 2013, tells the story of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program and highlights the future of space exploration.
Earlier inductees represent the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs.
The addition of Curt Brown, a veteran of six space shuttle flights; Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command a space shuttle; and Bonnie Dunbar, who served as a shuttle mission specialist and payload commander; brings the number of space explorers enshrined in the Hall of Fame to 85.
Curt Brown is a retired NASA astronaut and a retired United States Air Force colonel. Col. Brown, a veteran of six space flights, began his career with NASA in 1987 as a pilot and has logged more than 1,383 hours in space. Col. Brown's missions aboard the space shuttle include STS-47, STS-66, STS-77, STS-85, STS-95 and STS-103.
Eileen Collins is a retired NASA astronaut and a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. Revered for commanding STS-114 on the Return to Flight mission following the space shuttle Columbia disaster, Col. Collins' career with NASA is full of accomplishments, including becoming the first woman space shuttle pilot and the first woman commander. As a four-time space flight veteran, Col. Collins logged more than 872 hours in space, and her missions include STS-63, STS-84, STS-93 and STS-114.
On her first space flight in 1995, Col. Collins made history as she took the controls of Discovery on STS-63 and became the first female space shuttle pilot. STS-63 mission highlights in space include a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian Space Station Mir. The crew also performed the deployment and retrieval of an astronomy satellite and completed a space walk.
Five-time space flight veteran Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D., is a celebrated astronaut who has received numerous honors, including NASA's Outstanding Leadership Award in 1993 and NASA's Exceptional Service Medal in 1998 and 1991. During her career with NASA, she served as a mission specialist and a payload commander. Dr. Dunbar logged 1,208 hours in space, and her space flights include STS 61-A, STS-32, STS-50, STS-71 and STS-89.
Dr. Dunbar's achievements in space contributed to setting various benchmarks for NASA. As the payload commander on STS-50 in 1992, Dunbar helped complete the first dedicated United States Micro-gravity Laboratory flight, which laid the groundwork for Space Station Freedom science operations. The Space Station Freedom project was originally planned to be a permanently manned Earth-orbiting space station in the 1980s, but it was never constructed or completed as designed. The Freedom project evolved into the International Space Station program.
In 1995, she flew aboard Atlantis on STS-71, the first space shuttle to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir.
On her final mission in January of 1998, Dunbar served as payload commander on STS-89, the eighth Shuttle-Mir docking mission. The crew transferred more than 9,000 pounds of scientific equipment, logistical hardware and water from space shuttle Endeavour to Mir. Dunbar was responsible for all payload activities and conducted 23 technology and science experiments.
The 2013 inductees were selected by a committee of current Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials, flight directors, historians and journalists. The process is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. Closing times vary by season. Admission includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, featuring an actual Saturn V moon rocket, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and all exhibits. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, featuring the world's largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia.
Admission is $50, plus tax, for adults and $40, plus tax, for children ages 3-11.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander's Club Annual Pass is $63, plus tax, for adults and $53, plus tax, for children ages 3-11.
For more information, call (877) 313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.