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Standin' in the Hall of Fame

April 10, 2019

NASA had a big week for Hall of Fame inductions at the Space Foundation's 35th Space Symposium. Two veteran NASA astronauts were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and Johnson Space Center was inducted along with JSC Crew Health and Medical Lead Michael Rapley and fromer NASA Chief of Medical Operations Roger Billica. Ph.D. into the Space Technology Hall of Fame.

U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

Janet Kavandi, director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and James Buchli are the latest veteran NASA astronauts to join the ranks of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

"The pioneering spirit we see in every astronaut is truly exemplified by this year's inductees,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "Janet Kavandi and James Buchli represent the best of America’s astronauts, and I congratulate them for achieving this prestigious honor. Each has contributed greatly to the NASA mission, and their efforts have helped lay the groundwork for where we are today — including Janet's leadership directing Glenn’s Moon to Mars work — as we chart a course for a return of American astronauts to the lunar surface in five years, and eventually on to Mars.”

Former NASA astronauts Jim Buchli and Janet Kavandi are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Class of 2019 during a ceremony on April 6 inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. They unveiled their plaques, which will be placed in the Hall of Fame at the visitor complex. Image Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Bob Cabana, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and a 2008 inductee, was among the speakers at the ceremony, which took place Saturday at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and now brings the total number of hall of fame space explorers to 99.

Kavandi was a member of NASA’s 15th class of astronaut candidates, selected in 1994. She is a veteran of three space shuttle missions, serving as a mission specialist on STS-91 in 1998, STS-99 in 2000 and STS-104 in 2001. She has logged more than 33 days in space, traveling more than 13.1 million miles in 535 Earth orbits.

During her time in the NASA Astronaut Office, Kavandi supported International Space Station payload integration, capsule communications and robotics, and served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office. She became the director of Glenn in 2016.

Buchli was part of NASA’s 1978 astronaut candidate class. He was a member of the space shuttle support crew for STS-1 and STS-2, both in 1981, and served as on-orbit capsule communicator for STS-2. A veteran of four spaceflights, Buchli has orbited Earth 319 times, traveling 7.74 million miles over a span of more than 20 days. He served as a mission specialist on STS-51C in 1985, STS-61A in 1985, STS-29 in 1989 and STS-48 in 1991. From March 1989 until May 1992, he also served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation selects astronauts for induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, which was founded more than 30 years ago by the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts as a venue where space travelers could be remembered and honored.

Space Technology Hall of Fame

Long stays in space, such as on the ISS, take a toll on the human body, as muscles atrophy and bones weaken and lose minerals. Astronauts have long used exercise equipment to help mitigate the effects of microgravity on their bodies. But as NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid found in 1996 after a six-month stay on the Mir space station, the station’s stationary bike and treadmill were insufficient to prevent muscle and bone loss. A resistive exercise device was needed. The challenge was that the best solution on Earth was weight training but that required gravity.


JSC Center Director Mark Geyer celebrating the induction with the iRED team.

Before the first crew arrived on the ISS, NASA required a more effective countermeasure for muscular-skeletal degradation. Working with NASA Johnson Space Center’s Life Sciences and engineering teams, SpiraFlex Inc. created the Interim Resistive Exercise Device (iRED). Using their patented SpiraFlex technology of molded elastomeric spiral disks. Once connected to a spiral pulley, the discs provided linear resistance up to 300 lbs.  While on-orbit, crew members could complete daily exercise protocols, including squats to load the spine, hips and legs, which are most effected by micro-gravity.  A NASA sponsored 16-week study showed that the SpiraFlex iRED provided comparable results to using free-weights. iRED was the first resistive exercise system built specifically for space. It was installed on the ISS in 2000 with the first long-duration crew. It proved so effective it was used on the station until 2009 when the vibration isolated Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) was ready.


The patent owner, Paul Francis, assigned his patents to SpiraFlex Inc., which in turn licensed the technology to Nautilus Inc., who has since developed and markets their Bowflex Revolution home gym, and to OYO Fitness LLC.  Today OYO Fitness has developed and markets, OYO Personal Gym for individual use. The primary advantage of using SpiraFlex technology on Earth is that users can obtain the same benefits of weight training without the need for heavy cumbersome weights and related equipment. Lessons and technologies proven in space, can make for healthier lives on-orbit and on Earth.

For this work, JSC Crew Health and Medical Lead Michael Rapley and fromer NASA Chief of Medical Operations Roger Billica. Ph.D. were inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame along with Johnson Space Center as an organization.