Army astronauts

Roamy here.  Some years ago, I read Mike Mullane’s autobiography Riding Rockets, and one incident that stood out was the difference between how the Navy and the Air Force treated their astronauts.  I saw this article from military.com about astronaut Col. Doug Wheelock, and it got me thinking about how the astronaut corps is divided up between the services and civilians.  I didn’t have the time to look at the entire history of the astronaut corps, but I did look through the active astronaut list from a dated Astronaut Fact Book and counted 41 civilians, 25 Navy and Naval Reserve, and 21 Air Force astronauts.  I expected there to be more Marines, for some reason, but there were only 5 – Col. Charles Hobaugh, Lt. Col. Doug Hurley, Col. Frederick Sturckow, Col. Terrance Wilcutt, and Col. George Zamka.

Wheelock with the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to the late Lester Stone, an Army sergeant killed in action during the Vietnam War, on July 4, 2010

The article mentioned five Army astronauts, who are Wheelock, Col. Timothy Creamer, Col. Patrick Forrester, Col. Tim Kopra, and Lt. Col. Shane Kimbrough.  Two retired from the Army but still active in the astronaut corps are Col. William McArthur and Col. Jeffrey Williams. 

And last but not least, the Coast Guard has only ever had two astronauts, Commander Bruce Melnick (now retired) and Captain Daniel Burbank.

6 thoughts on “Army astronauts”

  1. Just based on anecdotal evidence, the AF thinks of you as an unperson once you go to NASA, whereas the Navy still thinks of you as a valid resource and may well screen you for flag.

  2. Mullane’s story was that he and some other rookies reported to the Pentagon for their astronaut wing ceremony. Their wives accompanied them. The Navy ceremony was first – a couple of nice speeches, a little party with drinks and hors d’oeurves, that kind of thing, a nice bit of fuss over the ones who had flown in space for the first time. The AF ceremony was second. The general they were supposed to meet had forgotten about it and seemed rather annoyed to have all these people in his office. Mike was pretty much handed his wings and shown the door. Mrs. Mullane was fuming mad.

Comments are closed.