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Wall unveiled to honor Air Force Astronauts - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Wall unveiled to honor Air Force Astronauts

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

The Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) unveiled a wall to honor Air Force members who have become NASA astronauts, Monday.

The Kevin P. Chilton Wall of Air Force Astronauts was revealed Monday, honoring 92 astronaut Airmen, including six currently serving with NASA. 

Retired General Kevin Chilton was an AFSPC commander and former NASA astronaut. He served at NASA from 1988-1998 and was a AFSPC commander from 2006-2007. He received his Air Force commission from the USAF Academy in 1976, shortly after completing a Masters Degree program in mechanical engineering.

Chilton's NASA career began when he was selected in 1987, as he became an astronaut in 1988. He had many assignments, some of which were leader of the Astronaut Support Personnel Team at the Kennedy Space Center and lead spacecraft communicator for several Shuttle flights.

Air Force Astronaut Colonel Jack Fischer explained, that it is truly amazing to be a part of something that much bigger than yourself. 

Those privileged enough to have their names displayed on the wall traveled above 50 nautical miles. That is when you are considered to be in space.

Science is being done all hours of the day by these Airmen, Chilton says you can only hope that one really changes humanity. Well, these contributions have.

This command started operations by remotely piloted vehicles and then satellites, later people got into space. Unlike airplanes, where they started out manned and now are becoming more remotely piloted, to put things into perspective.

Colonel US Air Force NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins expressed how special a day the event was. His name is included with the other 91 Airmen on the wall, he told News 5 how humbling and what an honor it all is.

Hopkins was in space four years ago but his experience is still fresh in his mind. The experience was "incredible" and so "rewarding," "while the ride into space was unimagineable, the ride home was even better," he says.

He compared the ability to walk in space to how it was when he was a University of Illinois football player, waiting in the tunnel before heading onto the field. Your body fills with emotions, you are anxious, excited and focused, he said the same about sitting in the airlock waiting to step out into space.

The wall honors past and present astronauts who have served within the US Air Force. These Airmen have made huge contributions to the American space program since 1959. 

This has also advanced the science of human spaceflight and technology for the benefit of all mankind.

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