NASA Group 4

Scientist Astronauts

June, 1965

Garriott, Owen K. (Civilian/Physicist)

Gibson, Edward G. (Civilian/Physicist)

Graveline, Duane F. (Civilian/Physician)

Kerwin, Joseph P. (U.S. Navy/Physician)

Michel, F. Curtis (Civilian/Physicist)

Schmitt, Harrison H. (Civilian/Geologist)

NASA Group 4 Background

By Cliff Lethbridge

As the Apollo program continued to evolve, NASA faced an ever increasing tide of criticism over the fact that the astronaut corps was dominated by military pilots and contained no women.

For this reason, NASA issued a call for astronaut candidates that would serve as “Scientist Astronauts”. While basic requirements were similar to those of previous drafts, the minimum flight time criteria was waived.

Candidates were required to possess a doctorate degree in the natural sciences, medicine, engineering or the equivalent experience. The more relaxed qualifications regarding flight experience yielded many more applicants.

About 1,500 Scientist Astronaut candidates applied for the fourth NASA draft. The initial screening of candidates was assigned to the National Academy of Science. NASA had announced that they desired a total of 10 to 20 Scientist Astronauts initially.

A total of about 200 candidates were rejected immediately because they wore glasses, and many were rejected because they were not U.S. citizens. In the end, only six Scientist Astronauts were selected, and the National Academy of Science issued a statement saying the overall quality of the candidates was “disappointing”.