Monday, December 12, 2011

Asteroid Astronauts


Every astronaut or cosmonaut who has perished in space flight (3), died during launch (7) or died during re-entry to Earth's atmosphere (8) have been commemorated with various posthumous medals, statues, memorials and museum exhibits.

Some have had libraries, schools or streets named after them in their hometowns, or even geological formations on the Moon or Mars titled in their memory. Still others have been the subjects of songs, documentaries, and one disaster was dramatized in a TV movie.

Among all these variations, all the fallen space travelers have one specific honor in common... all have asteroids named after them.

Soyuz 1 crew:
1836 Komarov (Vladimir)

Soyuz 11 crew:
1789 Dobrovolsky (Georgi)
Volkov (Vladislav)
Patsayev (Viktor)

STS-51-L Challenger crew:
3350 Scobee (Francis "Dick")
Smith (Michael)
McAuliffe (Christa)
Jarvis (Greg)
McNair (Ronald)
Onizuka (Ellison)
Resnik (Judith)

STS-107 Columbia crew:
51823 RickHusband

Astronaut Asteroids
I'm an Asteroid.
So get out of the way...

Many other space travelers have also had asteroids named after them for various reasons, and while not as exclusive as the group of Moon Walkers, it's a pretty darned small club!

In order of discovery + naming, they are:

1772 Gagarin (Yuri) - Russia
2552 Remek (VladimĂ­r) - Czech
4763 Ride (Sally) - USA
6469 Armstrong (Neil) - USA
6470 Aldrin ("Buzz") - USA
6471 Collins (Michael) - USA
7749 JackSchmitt - USA
9496 Ockels (Wubbo) - Holland
9512 FeiJunlong - China (Renamed)
9517 NieHaisheng - China (Renamed)
12790 Cernan (Gene) - USA
13606 Bean (Alan) - USA (Renamed)
21064 YangLiwei - China
22442 Blaha (John) - USA
22901 IvanBella - Slovakia

All are Main Belt Asteroids. See the accompanying links to examine their orbital paths, physical parameters and circumstance under which each was discovered.

For general information about asteroids, go to the Goddard Space Flight Center Planetary Science page for the Asteroid Fact Sheet.


Diane D in FL said...

You find the coolest stuff! I remember that Challenger movie, and that still always makes me so sad. Which one had a song written for them? I know the memorials but I never heard a song about an astronaut.

Anonymous said...

It was Ron McNair. He was to have performed a duet from the shuttle with a musician on the ground. He also had a song written for him after the fact.

PillowNaut said...

John Denver also wrote a beautiful song called "Flying For Me" as a tribute to all the Shuttle Challenger astronauts... and I don't think I have once made it through this entire song without tears:

Shuttle video with JD's intro:

teeny vancouver said...

How I wish my name can be called an asteroid too that would be great. :)

Atlantajan said...

Heather, agree about FLying for Me. Sometimes I skip it on my ipod when I'm driving because it makes me cry. Also, if you haven't heard it, listen to Mary Chapin Carpenter's When Halley Came to Jackson.

allen sky said...

such a cool story