Veteran NASA Astronauts Roy Bridges Jr., Senator Mark Kelly Inducted into U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
By NASA information center // May 8, 2023
NASA & SPACE NEWS
(NASA) – Veteran NASA astronauts Roy Bridges and Senator Mark Kelly were inducted into the prestigious U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, marking the 24th class of honorees to join the esteemed society.
The ceremony was held at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the space shuttle Atlantis. Bridges and Kelly were honored for their outstanding accomplishments in furthering NASA’s mission of exploration and discovery.
Their induction brings the total number of Astronauts in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame to 107.
Delivering remarks to officially welcome the astronauts to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame was Curt Brown, board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, Howard Schwartz, VP of Guest Engagement and Operations, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Bill Nelson, NASA administrator and Kelvin Manning, deputy director, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
More than 25 other veteran astronauts, many of whom also have been inducted into the hall of fame, attended the ceremony.
“From the moment that I heard about the launch of Sputnik while I was in high school, my dream career was to be involved in opening the space frontier. My dream came true,” said Bridges.
“I flew in space as the pilot of the space shuttle Challenger and led several large USAF, NASA, and industry organizations that supported our nation’s space program, including Kennedy Space Center. To close out my career by now being inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame is a great honor.”
“To have played a small part in the world’s greatest space program was a privilege, and to have been selected for this recognition is a true honor,” said Senator Kelly.
“I can’t help but to reflect on the journey here, from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to flying in the Navy in Operation Desert Storm, to becoming a test pilot, and eventually getting that call that I’d been selected as an astronaut. I’m so grateful to have been born in a country where the son of two police officers, who watched the Apollo missions from his living room floor, can go on to achieve his dreams of flying to space in service of their country.”
Bridges and Kelly each have had distinguished careers centered around their love of space and science:
Major General Roy D. Bridges, Jr. (STS-51F)
Roy D. Bridges (Major General USAF, ret.) was selected as an astronaut in 1980. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Purdue University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and a master’s degree in astronautics, respectively, Bridges has dedicated his career to the air and space industry.
ImageAs a pilot, test pilot, and astronaut, he flew 4,460 hours in a variety of aircraft, including the F-100, F-104, YA/A-10, A-37, OV-99 (space shuttle Challenger), C-11, F-15, T-37, and T-38.
In July 1985, he piloted the space shuttle Challenger for the eight-day Spacelab 2 mission.
The main mission objective for STS-51F was to verify the performance of Spacelab systems, determine the interface capability of the orbiter, and measure the spacecraft environment. Experiments performed covered life sciences, plasma physics, astronomy, high-energy astrophysics, solar physics, atmospheric physics and technology research.
Bridges went on to serve as Center Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center from 1997 to 2003, where he was responsible for NASA’s Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) launch processing and operations as well as the acquisition and launch of NASA’s expendable launch vehicle missions.
Between 2003 and 2005, he served as the Center Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center, where he directed aeronautical and space research programs before joining Northrop Grumman.
Bridges retired from his position as Technology Services’ Director responsible for the Department of Energy business with Northrop Grumman in January 2019.
A retired U.S. Air Force Major General, Bridges has served at Wright-Patterson AFB OH as the Air Force Materiel Command Director of Requirements; Commander, of Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base CA; Commander, Eastern Space, and Missile Center, Patrick AFB FL; and Commander, 412th Test Wing, Edwards AFB CA.
Among the awards Bridges has received are the National Nuclear Security Administration’s highest honor – the Administrator’s Distinguished Service Gold Award – in 2017, as well as NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Presidential Meritorious Executive Award, the Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence, and many military honors.
Senator Mark Kelly (STS-108, STS-121, STS-124, STS-134)
Mark Kelly (Captain, USN, ret.) has served as a U.S. Navy combat pilot, a NASA astronaut, and is now serving as a U.S. Senator for Arizona.
Kelly earned his bachelor’s degree in marine engineering and nautical science from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and later a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
As a Navy pilot, he made multiple deployments aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway and flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. He has logged more than 5,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft and has over 375 carrier landings. Kelly retired from the Navy with the rank of Captain.
In 1996, he was selected as an astronaut in the same NASA class as his identical twin brother, Scott. Kelly’s first of four trips into space were as pilot of STS-108 in December 2001, during which he helped deliver equipment, supplies, and additional crew members to the ISS.
He then served as pilot of STS-121 aboard Discovery, the second “Return to Flight” mission following the loss of Columbia in February 2003. STS-124, also aboard Discovery, in May of 2008 was Kelly’s first mission as commander. Kelly and his crew delivered the pressurized module for the Japanese Lab to the ISS.
He retired from NASA in 2011 after commanding the space shuttle Endeavour on its final flight, STS-134, which delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS. Kelly has spent more than 50 days in space – traveling over 20 million miles.
As U.S. Senator for Arizona, he serves as chair of the Airland subcommittee on Senate Armed Services, which oversees the Army and Air Force planning, operations, and programs.
He also sits on the Environment and Public Works and the Energy and Natural Resources Committees.
Senator Kelly is the recipient of two Defense Superior Service Medals, Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and multiple Air Medals. He lives in Tucson with his wife, former Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords. Kelly has two daughters, Claire, a graduate of Arizona State University, and Claudia who lives in Tucson, is a student at the University of Arizona and is the mother of Kelly’s two-year-old granddaughter, Sage.
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