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Congressional Space Medal of Honor

The Congressional Space Medal of Honor was authorized by the United States Congress in 1969 to recognize "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind."[1] The highest award given by NASA, it is awarded by the President of the United States in Congress's name on recommendations from the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The award is a separate decoration from the Medal of Honor, which is a military award for extreme bravery and gallantry in combat.

Congressional Space Medal of Honor
SpaceMOH.jpg
Congressional Space Medal of Honor
Awarded by the United States Congress
Country United States
Type Medal
Eligibility NASA astronauts
Awarded for "exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind"
Status Active
Statistics
Established September 29, 1969
First awarded October 1, 1978
Total awarded 28
Posthumous
awards
17
Precedence
Next (lower) NASA Distinguished Service Medal
CongSpaceRib.png
Congressional Space Medal of Honor ribbon
Neil Armstrong being awarded the first medal by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, with subsequent recipients Borman and Conrad seated.

Although the Congressional Space Medal of Honor is a civilian award of the United States government, it is authorized as a military decoration for display on U.S. military uniforms due to the prestige of the decoration. In such cases, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor is worn as a ribbon following all United States Armed Forces decorations.

To be awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, an astronaut must perform feats of extraordinary accomplishment while participating in space flight under the authority of NASA. Typically, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor is awarded for scientific discoveries or actions of tremendous benefit to mankind. The decoration may also be awarded for extreme bravery during a space emergency or in preventing a major space disaster. The Congressional Space Medal of Honor may also be presented posthumously to those astronauts who die while performing a US space mission; and as of 2017, all 17 astronauts killed on US missions have been awarded the medal.

President George W. Bush presented the most awards of the CSMOH, with 16 (of which 14 were posthumous for the two destroyed space shuttle flights, thus setting the standard for all astronauts killed in the line of duty receiving the award). The 11-year 8-month period from 1981 to 1993 was the longest gap between awards since its inception in 1978 until the current 12-year hiatus ongoing since April 2006.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter – 6 presentations

U.S. President Ronald Reagan – 1 presentation

U.S. President George H. W. Bush – 1 presentation

U.S. President Bill Clinton – 4 presentations

U.S. President George W. Bush – 16 presentations

U.S. President Barack Obama – 0 presentations

U.S. President Donald Trump – 0 presentations

RecipientsEdit

Currently, 28 astronauts have been honored with the award; 17 of which were awarded posthumously for those who died in American spaceflight. Three died in the Apollo 1 fire, seven died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and seven in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. An asterisk indicates a posthumous award. Four of the twelve moonwalkers received the medal (Armstrong, Conrad, Shepherd, and Young), but only Neil Armstrong for his lunar mission. The New Nine class of U.S. astronauts has the most recipients of the medal, with seven. Second is NASA Astronaut Group 8 which received five awards, four for astronauts killed on the Challenger.

As of June 2018, only six recipients are living, four are over 80 years old, and two of those four are 90 (Frank Borman and Jim Lovell both having turned 90 in March 2018). Frank Borman is the last living of the original six recipients who received the CSMOH in 1978. As of October 1, 2017 he held the award for 39 years.

Photo Name Date Awarded by Notes Ref(s)
  Neil Armstrong (1930–2012) October 1, 1978 Jimmy Carter Apollo 11 (Commander of the first lunar landing, first man to walk on the Moon) [1][2]
  Frank Borman (1928–) October 1, 1978 Jimmy Carter Apollo 8 (Commander of the first lunar orbit) [1][3]
  Pete Conrad (1930–1999) October 1, 1978 Jimmy Carter Skylab 2 (first Skylab Commander; responsible for salvaging the critically malfunctioning station) [1][4]
  John Glenn (1921–2016) October 1, 1978 Jimmy Carter Mercury-Atlas 6 (first American in orbit) [1][5]
  Gus Grissom* (1926–1967) October 1, 1978 Jimmy Carter Apollo 1, Gemini 3 and Mercury-Redstone 4 (Commander of the first manned Gemini); died aboard Apollo 1 [1][6]
  Alan Shepard (1923–1998) October 1, 1978 Jimmy Carter Mercury-Redstone 3 (first American in space) [1][7]
  John Young (1930–2018) May 19, 1981 Ronald Reagan STS-1 (Commander of the first shuttle flight) [1][8]
  Thomas P. Stafford (1930–) January 19, 1993 George H. W. Bush Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (U.S. Commander) [1][9]
  Jim Lovell (1928–) July 26, 1995 Bill Clinton Apollo 13 (Commander of the ill-fated mission) [1][10]
  Shannon Lucid (1943–) December 2, 1996 Bill Clinton Longest female spaceflight (passed by Sunita Williams) [1][11]
  Roger Chaffee* (1935–1967) December 17, 1997 Bill Clinton Died aboard Apollo 1 [1][12]
  Ed White* (1930–1967) December 17, 1997 Bill Clinton Apollo 1 and Gemini 4 (first U.S. space walk); died aboard Apollo 1 [1][12]
  William Shepherd (1949–) January 15, 2003 George W. Bush Expedition 1 (first ISS Commander) [1][13]
  Rick Husband* (1957–2003) February 3, 2004 George W. Bush STS-107 (died aboard Columbia) [1][14]
  Willie McCool* (1961–2003) February 3, 2004 George W. Bush STS-107 (died aboard Columbia) [1][14]
  Michael P. Anderson* (1959–2003) February 3, 2004 George W. Bush STS-107 (died aboard Columbia) [1][14]
  Kalpana Chawla* (1962–2003) February 3, 2004 George W. Bush STS-107 (died aboard Columbia) [1][14]
  David M. Brown* (1956–2003) February 3, 2004 George W. Bush STS-107 (died aboard Columbia) [1][14]
  Laurel Clark* (1961–2003) February 3, 2004 George W. Bush STS-107 (died aboard Columbia) [1][14]
  Ilan Ramon* (1954–2003) February 3, 2004 George W. Bush STS-107 (died aboard Columbia, only non-U.S. citizen recipient) [1][15]
  Dick Scobee* (1939–1986) July 23, 2004 George W. Bush STS-51-L (died aboard Challenger) [1][16]
  Michael J. Smith* (1945–1986) July 23, 2004 George W. Bush STS-51-L (died aboard Challenger) [1][16]
  Judith Resnik* (1949–1986) July 23, 2004 George W. Bush STS-51-L (died aboard Challenger) [1][16]
  Ronald McNair* (1950–1986) July 23, 2004 George W. Bush STS-51-L (died aboard Challenger) [1][16]
  Ellison Onizuka* (1946–1986) July 23, 2004 George W. Bush STS-51-L (died aboard Challenger) [1][16]
  Gregory Jarvis* (1944–1986) July 23, 2004 George W. Bush STS-51-L (died aboard Challenger) [1][16]
  Christa McAuliffe* (1948–1986) July 23, 2004 George W. Bush STS-51-L (died aboard Challenger, teacher) [1][16]
  Robert Crippen (1937–) April 26, 2006 George W. Bush STS-1 (first shuttle flight, Pilot) [1][17]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac "Congressional Space Medal of Honor". NASA. April 28, 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  2. ^ Hubbard, Ben. Neil Armstrong and Getting to the Moon. Capstone. ISBN 9781484625200. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "International Space Hall of Fame :: New Mexico Museum of Space History  :: Inductee Profile". www.nmspacemuseum.org. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "International Space Hall of Fame :: New Mexico Museum of Space History  :: Inductee Profile". www.nmspacemuseum.org. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "President Obama Awards John Glenn with Medal of Freedom - SpaceNews.com". SpaceNews.com. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Gus Grissom: Remembering NASA's 'Forgotten' Astronaut". AmericaSpace. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "International Space Hall of Fame :: New Mexico Museum of Space History  :: Inductee Profile". www.nmspacemuseum.org. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  8. ^ "National Space Grant Distinguished Service Award - 2007 | National Space Grant Foundation". www.spacegrant.org. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  9. ^ "Moon Rock to be Awarded to Apollo-Soyuz Astronaut Thomas Stafford". Space.com. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  10. ^ "Astronaut Jim Lovell Honored by Harvard | Space Foundation". www.spacefoundation.org. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  11. ^ Press, From Associated (3 December 1996). "1st Woman Wins Space Medal of Honor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "William J. Clinton: Remarks on Presenting the Congressional Space Medal of Honor Posthumously to Roger B. Chaffee and Edward H. White II". www.presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  13. ^ "International Space Hall of Fame :: New Mexico Museum of Space History  :: Inductee Profile". www.nmspacemuseum.org. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Learning, Jones & Bartlett. Exploring Space: The High Frontier. Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN 9780763789619. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  15. ^ "Ilan Ramon took tragic reminders, hope into space". AAAS - The World's Largest General Scientific Society. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Our SpaceFlight Heritage: 29th anniversary of Challenger disaster - SpaceFlight Insider". www.spaceflightinsider.com. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  17. ^ "Former astronaut Robert Crippen is honored". phys.org. Retrieved 7 May 2017.