CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The memories and accomplishments of two astronauts helped inspire another generation of explorers Saturday.
Shannon Lucid and Jerry Ross of the shuttle era were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Each told of the challenges, triumphs and lighter moments of their careers in space to an audience assembled underneath shuttle Atlantis.
"It is amazing to hear what these people have done," said a 22-year-old Daniel Abercrombie, who graduates this month from Penn State with degrees in physics and nuclear engineering. "It is so inspirational."
Lucid is the only American woman to serve aboard Mir, the Russian space station. She logged 5,354 flight hours in space, a record for a female astronaut until 2007.
"My favorite was the long-duration flight, because before I flew on Mir, I thought I knew a lot about living and working in space," Lucid said. "After being up there two or three months, I learned so much more."
Lucid flew aboard Atlantis three times, including the trip to Mir for her 188-day stay, for which she received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Jerry Ross was the first person to complete seven space shuttle missions. Five of those missions were aboard Atlantis. He spent more than 1,393 hours in space and 58 hours, 18 minutes on nine spacewalks.
Ross said some of his best memories were on the ground with the space workers behind the scenes preparing for missions.
"We shared the same love, dedication and excitement about what we were collectively doing," Ross said.
"It made each day new and never boring. I always looked forward to getting to work to see what was next on the agenda."
Abercrombie, who is an Astronaut Scholarship Foundation scholar, said the ceremony inspired him to strive for greater accomplishments in science and technology.
"It left me feeling extremely impressed with our nation's history and proud," said Abercrombie, who plans to attend MIT in the fall to study experimental nuclear and particle physics.
"I really hope I can make them proud in the future."