Monday, November 21, 2011

NASA Astronaut Groups


One for the trivia geeks! Or you know, kids. Do kids still get into space history these days? Do they still want to be astronauts? Let's hope so, because sometimes it can be both fun and humorous. The previous class of astronauts bestows a nickname on every new class of astronauts selected. To date, the NASA astronaut groups are:

Group 01: April 9, 1959 - The Original Seven or The Mercury Seven
Group 02: September 17, 1962 - The New Nine (Also: Nifty Nine)
Group 03: October 17, 1963 - The Fourteen
Group 04: June 28, 1965 - The Scientists
Group 05: April 4, 1966 – The Original 19
Group 06: October 4, 1967 - XS 11 or The "Excess Eleven"
Group 07: August 14, 1969 – (No nickname on record)
Group 08: January 16, 1978 – TFNG (Thirty Five New Guys)
Group 09: May 29, 1980 - (No nickname on record)
Group 10: May 23, 1984 - The Maggots
Group 11: June 4, 1985 – (No nickname on record)
Group 12: June 5, 1987 - The GAFFers
Group 13: January 17, 1990 - The Hairballs
Group 14: March 31, 1992 - The Hogs
Group 15: December 8, 1994 - The Flying Escargot
Group 16: May 1, 1996 - The Sardines
Group 17: June 4, 1998 - The Penguins
Group 18: July 26, 2000 - The Bugs
Group 19: May 6, 2004 - The Peacocks
Group 20: June 29, 2009 – The Chumps

The Mercury Seven
The First.

Trivia tidbits:

Group 2
: The New Nine included Neil Armstrong.

Group 4
: The Scientists Included the first medical doctor in space (Joe Kerwin) and many of the folks who ran experiments on Skylab.

Group 6
: The "Excess 11" were assigned as backup crew members for the last Apollo missions or as backup for Skylab, though many later flew as Shuttle Mission Specialists.

Group 8
: Ironically, the "Thirty Five New Guys", the only gender-specific nickname, included the first American woman in space, Sally Ride.

Group 10: Of this group, main Maggot William Shepherd would become the commander of the first ISS crew (Expedition 1).

Group 12: The nickname GAFFers is an acronym for "George Abbey Final Fifteen".

Group 13: The "Hairballs" nickname came after the class put a black cat on its group patch.

Group 14
: Beginning with the Hogs, non-US astronauts representing their home nations' space agencies trained alongside NASA personnel as mission specialists.

Group 16
: The "Sardines" were so named because they were the largest class since TFNG's.

Group 17
: Garrett Reisman said that "Dodos" was kicked around for a nickname because a dodo is a flightless bird and it would be a while before any of them flew. It was changed to Penguins, another flightless bird, the difference being that dodos are extinct...

Group 18
: The Peacocks group was the first to include Educator mission specialists.

Not the last.


Diane D said...

This is awesome... I had no idea there were so many! Trying to catch up after being gone for so long. You have done some neat stuff lately, glad to see you are still writing, my sweet little friend!

Michael said...

The Group 8 Thirty Five New Guys is the polite acronym for "TFNG".

The Group 10 Maggots were named by themselves after going through Marine-style basic training. "Come on, maggots, let's go!"

Starting with Group 14, the incoming astronaut class was named by the previous one. The Hogs got their name because they were expected to hog all of the airplane and simulator time.

Group 15 was originally named the Slugs (as in "it takes them a while to get going somewhere") but the group successfully renamed itself the Escargot.

Not only were the Group 16 Sardines the biggest class in years, the name came from how much room they took up in the astronaut office and how they were all going to have to be packed together.

The Group 17 Penguins were named for the black and white birds who cannot fly without a significant evolutionary leap.

The Group 18 Bugs were chosen in the year 2000 - the Y2K Bugs.

Group 19 Peacocks originally wanted to be the Blue Dragons but everyone laughed at them and said no, you don't get a cool name. You're the Peacocks, chosen because you're going to sit here and look pretty but you're not going to fly for a long time. (Turned out that with the shuttle retirement looming, all of the Peacocks got to fly SOONER than a traditional astronaut class since the astronaut office wanted as many flown people as possible because they wanted experienced people in the office for the post-shuttle transition.)

Finally, Group 20 was going to be the Chimps (as in "let's send chimps into space while testing our new rockets") but somewhere along the way they got renamed as the Chumps.