Purdue Graduates to be inducted into the 2008 class U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

More than forty Hall of Fame astronauts will gather at the Kennedy Space Center on May 2-3, 2008 to induct the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Class of 2008.

Of the four astronauts will be inducted this year, two are Purdue graduates and include  the third American to live aboard the Russian Mir Space Station, John Blaha MSAE '66 and Vice President of Engineering and Integration Chief Technology Office at United Space Alliance and Commander of the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, Loren Shriver MSAE '68.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which will host a gala on May 2 celebrating the 2008 class, oversaw the selection of the voting committee and induction process. The committee chose the 2008 inductees based on their achievement during their spaceflights as well as how they contributed to the U.S. space program in other activities.

The 2008 class is the seventh group of shuttle astronauts to be named to the Hall since 2001.

 John E. Blaha (Colonel, USAF, Ret.)

John Blaha became an astronaut in 1980 and over the span of 17 years flew on five space shuttle missions and one long-duration space station flight.

 A U.S. Air Force Aviator and test pilot, Blaha first piloted Discovery on STS-29, the third flight following the loss of Challenger. His second flight was as pilot of STS-33, only the third shuttle mission to launch at night.

 He served as commander of his third and fourth trips to space. On-board STS-43, his crew deployed the West Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and operated experiments supporting the development of the extended duration orbiter and space station. STS-58 saw a record 14-day life science research mission that was recognized by NASA's management as the most successful flight of Spacelab that the space agency flew.

Blaha launched on his fifth and final mission on STS-79, which docked to the Russian Mir Space Station. The third American to live on the outpost, he then set the then-U.S. men's record for time in space during his four months on orbit.

Blaha also served on several NASA panels, including chairing the NASA Flight Safety Panel. He led the design, development and integration of the shuttle's heads-up display system and the abort procedures that significantly improved crew survivability in the event of multiple main engine failures during launch.

Blaha retired from NASA in 1997 to return to his home town of San Antonio, TX, where he joined the Executive Management Group of the United Services Automobile Organization.


Loren J. Shriver (Colonel, USAF, Ret.)

Loren Shriver was selected as an astronaut with the first class of shuttle astronauts in 1978.

 Shriver first flew as pilot of STS-51C, a classified mission for the Department of Defense. On his second flight, he led the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope as commander of STS-31, beginning the telescopes nearly 20 years of imaging the universe.

Shriver's last spaceflight was on STS-46, deploying the European Retrievable Carrier satellite, a European Space Agency-sponsored free-flying science platform, and performing the first test of the Tethered Satellite System, a joint project between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and NASA.

 Prior to accepting his current position as Vice President of Engineering and Integration Chief Technology Office at United Space Alliance, he was the company's VP and Deputy Program Manager. Shriver was previously Deputy Director of the Kennedy Space Center from 1997 to 2000.