Friday, December 9, 2011

The Astronaut State


Do you know how special the state of Ohio is to NASA? 21 astronauts were born in Ohio, 4 more moved there as small children and thus consider Ohio their home, and 12 more got their college degrees in Ohio! Wow.

Why so many from Ohio? Perhaps it's because two great astronaut role models, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, are from Ohio. Perhaps it's because, thanks to the Wright Brothers, Ohio is the birthplace of flight? Probably a combination of both, and given early education about famous flyers from their state, more folks from Ohio grow up dreaming about the stars!

Ohio State Quarter With Astronaut
Still, the number of inhabitants in Ohio (which contains only 3% of the entire American population) is rather low in comparison to California, Florida or Texas, where one might expect a greater showing in the astronaut corps. Nope! Percentage-wise, Ohio tops the list with their magic #21:

1921: John Glenn - Cambridge
1926: Karl Henize - Cincinnati
1928: James Lovell - Cleveland
1930: Neil Armstrong - Wapakoneta
1930: Donn Eisele - Columbus
1931: Charles Bassett - Dayton
1949: Kenneth Cameron - Cleveland
1949: Judith Resnik - Akron
1951: Ronald Parise - Warren
1952: Ronald Sega - Macedonia
1952: Terence Henricks - Bryan
1955: Carl Erwin Walz - Cleveland
1955: Donald Thomas - Cleveland
1956: Gregory Harbaugh - Cleveland
1956: G. David Low - Cleveland
1956: Michael Gernhardt - Mansfield
1957: Michael Foreman - Columbus
1958: Nancy Currie - Troy
1962: Mary Ellen Weber - Cleveland
1962: Michael Good - Parma
1965: Sunita Williams - Euclid

Number of Astronauts Per State
Ohio is also the only state to boast nearly an entire mission crew from within their borders! Ohioans definitely followed STS-70 with great prid, because four of five astronauts on Space Shuttle Discovery -- Nancy Currie, Tom Henricks, Don Thomas, and Mary Ellen Weber -- were from Ohio. Then Governor George Voinovich attended the launch and made the fifth crew member, Kevin Kregel, an "honorary Ohio citizen".

During the flight, the mission control center played the Cleveland Indians baseball song as a wake-up call for the crew. (Nancy Currie was actually born in Delaware but moved as a baby to Troy, Ohio… so she considers this her "hometown" . What do you think? Should we them get away with that one?)

Ohio Space Shuttle CrewI am not always enamored of their choice of words, but did commentary on how "Ohio Is Full of Astronauts" in one of their famously sarcastic essays, Six Insane Coincidences You Won't Believe Actually Happened.

Terribly amusing, but don't click if you're easily offended by profanity. isn't always Safe-For-Work!