Region's space pioneer Ross will be inducted May 3 into Astronaut Hall of Fame

2014-02-07T19:55:00Z 2014-02-14T11:57:10Z Region's space pioneer Ross will be inducted May 3 into Astronaut Hall of FameBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Crown Point native Jerry Ross, the first human to complete seven space shuttle missions, has been selected for induction in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Ross, 66, will join female space shuttle astronaut Shannon Lucid, the only American woman to serve aboard the Russian Space Station Mir, on May 3, when both are inducted in a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla.

The two will join the ranks of well-known space explorers such as Alan Shepard, John Glenn, John Young, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride.

"I was very surprised and pleased to be selected," Ross told The Times Friday.

"It is wonderful to be joining many of my boyhood idols as well as many of my friends who have already been enshrined in the Astronaut Hall of Fame."

Their selection as the 2014 inductees was announced Friday at the new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at the complex. Dan Brandenstein, chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and a four-time shuttle astronaut and Hall of Fame member, made the announcement.

"Shannon Lucid and Jerry Ross are extraordinary astronauts who made history as very important and frequent crew members in shuttle missions," Brandenstein said.

Lucid and Ross were selected by NASA to become astronauts within two years of each other; Lucid in 1978 and Ross in 1980. Now retired, both achieved honorable milestones throughout their careers with NASA. Ross broke a world record by being the first human launched into space seven times.

Past inductees were part of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and space shuttle programs. The 2014 induction marks the thirteenth group of space shuttle astronauts named to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of members to 87.

Ross, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, entered active duty with the Air Force in 1972 and became a payload officer/flight controller at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1979. Ross flew as a mission specialist for six of his record seven flights and logged 1,393 hours in space, including 58 hours, 18 minutes during nine spacewalks. Ross spent a considerable amount of time between 1998 and 2002 working on the International Space Station.

Throughout his career, Ross received 15 NASA medals and was awarded the American Astronautical Society's Victor A. Prather Award for his numerous spacewalking achievements. From 2003 until his retirement from NASA in January 2012, Ross served as chief of the Vehicle Integration Test Office at Johnson Space Center.

Ross returned to Crown Point last September to sign copies of his new autobiography "Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer" (2013 Purdue University Press $30).

The 2014 inductees were selected by a committee of Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials, flight directors, historians and journalists.

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