NASA Astronaut Group 4 Article

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Back row, L-R: Garriott, Gibson. Front row, L-R: Michel, Schmitt, Kerwin. Not pictured: Graveline.

Astronaut Group 4 (The Scientists) was a group of six astronauts selected by NASA in June 1965. While the astronauts of the first two groups were required to have an undergraduate degree or the professional equivalent in engineering or the sciences (with several holding advanced degrees), they were chosen for their experience as test pilots. Test pilot experience was waived as a requirement for the third group, but military jet fighter aircraft experience could be substituted. Group 4 was the first chosen on the basis of research and academic experience (an M.D. or Ph.D. in the natural sciences or engineering was a prerequisite for selection), with NASA providing pilot training as necessary. Initial screening of applicants was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, which characterized the pool as "disappointing."

Of the six ultimately chosen, four had military experience, with Garriott having previously completed the USAF Pilot Training Program. Schmitt, a geologist, walked on the Moon, while Garriott, Gibson and Kerwin all flew to Skylab. Garriott also flew on the Space Shuttle. Graveline and Michel left NASA without flying in space.

A chart showing Group 4 assignments in relation to other astronaut groups. Graphed this way, it clearly shows how Group 5 military pilots were assigned ahead of Group 4, with most of Group 4 required to spend a full year at Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training to qualify as jet pilots, which all of Group 5 and prior groups had done early in their military careers. The requirement for scientists to get qualified as jet pilots was eventually lifted with the creation of the Mission Specialist position in the shuttle program

Group members

Skylab 3 — July–September 1973 — Science Pilot — Second crew of the Skylab space station [1]
STS-9 Columbia — November 1983 — Mission specialist — Spacelab mission [1]
Skylab 4 — November 1973–February 1974 — Science Pilot — Third crew of the Skylab space station [2]
Resigned from NASA before being assigned to a crew [3]
Skylab 2 — May–June 1973 — Science Pilot — First crew of the Skylab space station [4]
Resigned from NASA before being assigned to a crew [5]
Apollo 17 — December 1972 — Lunar Module Pilot — Last manned lunar landing, twelfth person to walk on the moon [6]


  1. ^ a b c NASA (August 2008). "Astronaut Bio: Owen K. Garriott". Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  2. ^ a b NASA (December 1993). "Astronaut Bio: Edward G. Gibson". Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  3. ^ a b NASA (September 1999). "Astronaut Bio: D. Graveline". Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  4. ^ a b NASA (February 2008). "Astronaut Bio: Joseph P. Kerwin". Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  5. ^ a b NASA (December 1975). "Astronaut Bio: F. Curtis Michel". Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  6. ^ a b NASA (December 1994). "Astronaut Bio: Harrison Schmitt". Retrieved 2008-10-20.

External links