PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A group of astronaut Airmen along with Gen. Jay Raymond, Air Force Space Command commander, unveiled a new heritage display at AFSPC headquarters here, Nov. 13, 2017.
“Since 1991, all Air Force astronauts have fallen under the administrative control of Air Force Space Command. We are absolutely proud to have you as AFSPC Airmen,” said Raymond. “In all, 92 Airmen have served as astronauts, and today we dedicate this wall in honor of those who have served.”
Retired Gen. Kevin Chilton, who served as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut and later AFSPC commander, and Col. Jack “2Fish” Fischer, a current astronaut who recently returned from the International Space Station, joined Raymond for the ceremony.
The wall, named in honor of Chilton, lists the names of all the Airmen who have served as astronauts since the space program began in the late 1950s, including six Airmen currently serving with NASA. Ten of those past and present astronauts were present to help dedicate the wall.
“On behalf of all the astronauts here, I want to thank you for recognizing us today,” said Chilton, who served at NASA from 1988 to 1998, logging over 704 hours in space. He piloted the space shuttle twice, including the first flight of the Endeavour in 1992, and commanded the Atlantis on his third space flight in 1996. After leaving NASA, Chilton served as the commander of AFSPC from 2006-2007 and U.S. Strategic Command from 2007-2011.
“I would like to call out a few special names that are on the wall that are Air Force astronauts who were killed in the line of duty,” added Chilton. “I’d like us all to remember Gus Grissom, Ed White, Dick Scobee, Ellison Onizuka, Rick Husband, and Mike Anderson.”
Grissom and White were killed in a pre-launch fire on the Apollo I mission in 1967. Scobee and Onizuka were lost in the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, and Husband and Anderson were killed when the space shuttle Columbia broke up on reentry in 2003.
“I just want us all to remember that we all play a part in this legacy, to be proud of the part that we play and to humbly do whatever we can to continue the legacy that’s going to be represented by this wall,” said Fischer, who returned from a 136-day mission on the International Space Station in September, where he participated in hundreds of scientific experiments and two spacewalks.
The display includes many famous names from history, including “Gordo” Cooper and Deke Slayton, two of the original seven Mercury astronauts, and “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man on the moon. Also included are Col. Eileen Collins, the first female space shuttle pilot and shuttle mission commander, and Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, who flew on five shuttle missions, lived on the International Space Station for five months, and later commanded the 45th Space Wing from 2006-2008 and 14th Air Force from 2011-2014.