NASA Astronaut Group 9 was a group of 19 NASA astronauts announced on May 29, 1980, and completed their training by 1981. This group was selected to supplement the 35 astronauts that had been selected in 1978, and marked the first time that non-Americans were trained as mission specialists with the selections of ESA astronauts Claude Nicollier and Wubbo Ockels. In keeping with the previous group, astronaut candidates were divided into pilots and mission specialists, with eight pilots, eleven mission specialists, and two international mission specialists within the group.
As with the previous group, several spaceflight firsts were achieved, including:
In addition, Chang-Diaz and Ross share the world record for the most spaceflights, with seven each. Bolden also became the second astronaut to serve as NASA Administrator, appointed in July 2009.
Delays in Spacelab caused NASA to offer ESA payload specialists the opportunity to train with its full-time astronauts; Nicollier and Ockels were the first non-Americans to do so. Ulf Merbold would also have trained as a mission specialist but could not pass the medical examination, an example of the lower physical standards for payload specialists. ESA believed that Spacelab was more important than mission specialist training. In September 1981 Ockels withdrew from training to focus on Spacelab; Nicollier continued and until 2005 was a NASA mission specialist.
The first space-faring Dutch astronaut was Wubbo Ockels, who flew aboard Space Shuttle Challenger in 1985.
International cooperation was highlighted by the flight of the first Swiss astronaut and the first Italian payload specialist on STS-46...
You were the first married couple in the Astronaut Office.