Space shuttle astronauts Brian Duffy and Scott Parazynski joined an elite group of American space heroes as they were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. They were welcomed to the ranks of legendary pioneers such as Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride during a May 14 ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Since the Hall of Fame inducted the seven Mercury astronauts in 1990, these additions bring the number of enshrined space travelers to 93.
Former CNN reporter and veteran space correspondent John Zarrella, served as master of ceremonies and introduced the 20 attending members of the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
NASA Administrator and Hall of Fame astronaut Charlie Bolden honored the two current inductees, looking to the agency’s next leap forward.
“Today NASA is on the Journey to Mars that will take our astronauts to an asteroid next decade and the Red Planet in the 2030s,” he said. “When our astronauts put the first human footsteps on Mars, they will be walking in the footsteps of hall of famers like Brian Duffy and Scott Parazynski.”
Bolden also paid tribute to the workforce at the Florida spaceport.
“The team here is hard at work every day transitioning the Kennedy Space Center to a premier multi-user spaceport,” he said.
Hall of fame astronaut Kevin Chilton introduced Duffy, describing him as “a quiet unassuming leader.”
Duffy stated that being selected for this honor was “the greatest recognition of my professional career.”
Growing up near Boston, in Rockland, Massachusetts, Duffy recalled being a baseball enthusiast, following the Red Sox and their chief rival, the New York Yankees.
Duffy pointed out that he could relate to a statement legendary Yankee catcher Yogi Berra made when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
“The first thing I should do is thank those who made this day necessary,” Duffy quoted Berra as saying.
Duffy explained that he understood what Berra meant by one of his seemingly unintentional witticisms, also known as “Yogi-isms.”
“We’re all shaped by the people who touched our lives,” Duffy said.
“It’s truly a humbling experience to be joining my heroes,” he said pointing to hall of fame astronauts in attendance whose exploits date back to the Apollo era. “These are the folks I watched as I was growing up.”
After graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Duffy gained extensive experience as a test pilot, including over 5,000 hours in more than 25 different aircraft, before becoming an astronaut.
Following astronaut candidate training, Duffy worked in Mission Control as a spacecraft communicator. He also assisted in developing instrumentation displays and flight crew procedures for use on later shuttle flights.
Duffy began putting these experiences to work on his first flight assignment in 1992 as pilot of STS-45 and STS-57 the following year. In 1996, he was commander of the STS-72 flight of the shuttle Endeavour. In 2000, Duffy commanded the STS-92 crew of Discovery on a mission to the International Space Station.
Duffy expressed appreciation for the people who helped with the achievements on his space shuttle missions.
“The successes I experienced in the Shuttle Program would not have happened without the absolute commitment of thousands of people across the country,” he said.
He directed much of his praise to the workforce at Kennedy.
“All of the preparations come together here,” he said. “Over time, I realized how proud the Kennedy workforce was of their orbiter fleet. Each time they gave us a perfect, clean, beautiful machine.”
Today, Duffy is Orbital ATK’s vice president and program manager, leading the company’s human space exploration activities at Kennedy and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Kent Rominger, also a hall of fame astronaut, introduced Parazynski, noting that he is not only an astronaut, but also the first person to orbit the Earth and later climb to the summit of Mount Everest.
“There is no opportunity, especially if it is an adventure, that he is going to pass up,” Rominger said. “He is truly an explorer.”
Like Duffy, Parazynski expressed appreciation for being counted with earlier astronauts “who have been my inspiration since I was a little kid.”
“I am so deeply honored and humbled to be here today to receive this recognition, not as an individual,” he said, “but on behalf of literally the thousands of people who touched my professional career.”
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Parazynski considers Palo Alto, California, and Evergreen, Colorado, to be his hometowns.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, Parazynski went on to Stanford Medical School. Following a medical internship, he completed 22 months of residency in emergency medicine in Denver, Colorado. In 1992, he was selected as a NASA astronaut.
Parazynski flew five space shuttle missions and participated in seven spacewalks. His shuttle missions include serving as a mission specialist on STS-66 in 1994 and STS-86 three years later, including a rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir.
Parazynski also had high praise for those who supported the Space Shuttle Program.
“They are brilliant, resourceful, creative, passionate professionals at NASA and the contactors,” he said. “Men and women — Americans and international partners — who prepared our spacecraft, our payloads, trained us for the adventurous missions into space, launched our ships from the Kennedy Space Center, led the flights from the Mission Control Center and then safely brought us back to planet Earth.”
In 1998, Parazynski was named to the STS-95 crew, which included Astronaut Hall of Fame charter member John Glenn.
“My gosh, I’m going to have a chance to fly with my boyhood hero,” Parazynski said upon being given the news. “That was such an extraordinary experience to fly not only with a legend, but a great human being.”
Using his medical background, Parazynski monitored several life sciences investigations, including those involving Glenn.
Following his fifth spaceflight, Parazynski retired from NASA in 2009 to work in industry and to pursue other interests, such as scaling Mount Everest. He also served as honorary captain of the U.S. Olympic Luge Team during the 2010 winter games in Vancouver, Canada.
In the 1980s, the six surviving Mercury Seven astronauts and Gus Grissom’s widow, Betty Grissom, conceived the idea of a place where U.S. space travelers could be remembered and honored. The Mercury Seven Foundation and Astronaut Scholarship Foundation were formed and have a role in operations of the Hall of Fame, which opened its doors in 1990. The scholarship foundation presents numerous scholarships each year, and since its inception has awarded nearly $4 million to more than 400 college and university students who exhibit motivation, imagination, and exceptional performance in the fields of science and engineering.
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