The third wave of inductees came in 1997, where a total of 24 astronauts who flew aboard Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab spacecraft were included. Some of the notable members included Roger Chaffee, who was the third astronaut killed in the Apollo 1 fire; Harrison Schmitt, the first scientist and next to last man to take a walk on the moon; as well as Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, who were part of the crew aboard Apollo 13.
Since 2001, twenty-two other astronauts who were involve with the space shuttle program became inducted, including the first woman in space , Sally Ride. An astronaut quite active during the 1980s and 1990s (Story Musgrave) was also inducted for his accomplishments during six different space missions. With the exception of 2002, inductions have been held every year since 2001.
With the most recent class (May 2007), inductees included the NASA Johnson Space Center director (Michael Coats) and astronomers (Steven Hawley and Jeffrey Hoffman), who played an important role in launching and repairing various satellites, such as the Hubble Space Telescope.
Hall of Fame Exhibits
When browsing the exhibits scattered about the Hall of Fame, you will encounter two spacecraft. The Sigma 7 is the Mercury spacecraft once piloted by Wally Schirra, which orbited the Earth six times in 1962. The CSM Kitty Hawk is also on display, which served as the Command Module that was used in the Apollo 14 spaceflight to the moon. Children also find delight in the Astronaut Adventure room, where visitors come face-to-face with a simulator.
The Controversial Hall of Fame Item
The spacesuit that Gus Grissom wore while aboard Mercury 4 is available to peruse, which holds a bit of controversy. The heirs of Grissom’s estate and NASA have been at odds over the suit since 2002. The family loaned the spacesuit, which joins additional artifacts of Grissom’s to the original owners of the Hall of Fame when it first opened in 1990. When the Hall of Fame went into bankruptcy and was taken over by NASA in 2002, the family requested the return of the items. All of the belongings were returned with the exception of the spacesuit, which is the center of the controversy. Both the family and NASA claim ownership of the suit. NASA officials state that Grissom checked out the spacesuit to appear at the show-and-tell at his son’s school, but never returned the suit. The Grissoms believe that it is their property because Gus told family members that he retrieved the suit from a scrap heap.