The space shuttle also opened up the anthropometric limitations for all potential astronaut applicants and allowed larger men (95th percentile) and smaller women (5th percentile) to be qualified for selection.

Beginning with the Space Shuttle program, additional crew members have trained with the professional astronauts. They included payload specialists—career scientists and engineers who typically flew only once and then returned to their home laboratories or companies. They were often principal investigators and trained typically for more than 18 months on the mission research manifested with the Spacelab but for only 6 months with the crew and space shuttle systems. Some were corporate researchers. Eventually, this category would be expanded to include spaceflight participants, who were general observers of the spaceflight experience. Approximately 60 payload specialists have flown with the Space Shuttle program.

Table 1.2 shows 20 selected and announced classes of astronauts from 1959 to 2009, a span of 50 years: 148 pilots, 17 scientist-astronauts (Apollo era), 163 mission specialists (space shuttle to present), 35 international partner astronauts (Japan, Europe, and Canada), and three educators. All were trained in the training facilities at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

Figure 1.2 illustrates the historical Astronaut Corps size and trends from 1959 to the present. Several trends

TABLE 1.2 Astronaut Class Composition from 1959 to 2009

Year Class # Pilots Apollo and Skylab Scientists Mission Specialists International Partners Educators Total
1959 1 7 0 0 0 0 7
1962 2 9 0 0 0 0 9
1963 3 14         14a
1965 4   6       6b
1966 5 19         19c
1967 6   11       11d
1969 7 7         7
1978 8 13   22     35
1980 9 8   11 2   21e
1984 10 7   10     17
1985 11 6   8     14f
1987 12 7   8     15
1990 13 7   16     23
1992 14 4   15 5   24g
1995 15 10   9 4   23
1996 16 10   25 9   44
1998 17 8   17 7   32
2000 18 7   10     17
2004 19 2   6 3 3 14h
2009 20 3   6 5   14
Total   148 17 163 35 3 366

aFour died in training accidents before they could fly.

bFour had prior military experience. Two left NASA without having flown in space. All had delayed flight assignments because of the requirement that they spend a year at U.S. Air Force (USAF) Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) to be jet pilot qualified.

cAll with military experience. One died in an accident before flight, one left because of illness before flight.

dAll had delayed flight assignments because of the requirement that they spend a year at USAF UPT to be jet pilot qualified. Seven remained after Apollo and formed the core of the space shuttle mission specialists before the 1978 astronaut selection. Four did not complete training for flight.

eFirst two European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts to be assigned to train as mission specialists. Trained for first year and then returned to ESA for payload training. One was professional commercial and military pilot.

fFirst teacher in place, Christa McAuliffe, assigned but trained in “payload specialist” curricula, which generally started 6 months before launch. Number not counted in total.

gInternational partner astronauts announced with NASA classes. Participated as mission specialists, including T-38N training, before flight.

hEducators trained as full mission specialists, including T-38N spaceflight readiness training. Does not include the Russian cosmonauts, who announce their own classes, even though they are part of future joint ISS and Soyuz crews.



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