Sally Ride - 1st American Woman in Space
January 16 - NASA Group 8 - TFNG (Thirty-Five New Guys) - USA
- Pilots: Daniel Brandenstein, Michael Coats, Richard Covey, John Creighton, Robert Gibson, Frederick D. Gregory, Frederick Hauck, Jon McBride, Francis "Dick" Scobee, Brewster Shaw, Loren Shriver, David Walker, Donald Williams
- Mission specialists: Guion Bluford, James Buchli, John Fabian, Anna Fisher, Dale Gardner, S. David Griggs, Terry Hart, Steven Hawley, Jeffrey Hoffman, Shannon Lucid, Ronald McNair, Richard Mullane, Steven Nagel, George Nelson, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon, Robert Stewart, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Norman Thagard, James van Hoften
- Due to the long delay between the last Apollo mission and the first flight of the Space Shuttle in 1981, few astronauts from the older groups stayed with NASA. Thus in 1978 a new group of 35 astronauts was selected after 9 years without new astronauts, including the first female astronauts, and also the first black astronauts Guion Bluford and Frederick D. Gregory. Since then, a new group has been selected roughly every two years.
- Two different astronaut groups were formed: pilots and mission specialists. Additionally the shuttle program has payload specialists who are selected for a single mission and are not part of the astronaut corps - among them were mostly scientists, also a few politicians and many international astronauts.
- Of the first of the post-Apollo group, Sally Ride would become the first American woman in space (STS-7). Later, she would fly with Kathryn Sullivan on a Shuttle flight, in which Sullivan would become the first American woman to perform an EVA. Dr. Thagard, who flew with Ride on STS-7, would later become the first American to be launched on a Russian rocket (Soyuz TM-18 or "Mir-18") to the Mir space station, while Shannon Lucid would serve on the Mir for slightly over 6 months, breaking all American space duration records (both theSkylab 4 record and Thagard's) in 1996-97 until Sunita Williams (who was selected 20 years later) broke Lucid's record. Of this group, Scobee, Resnik, Onizuka, and McNair would perish in the Challenger Disaster. Of the astronauts chosen, only Anna Fisher still remains on active duty (although her tenure included an extended leave of absence from 1989 to 1996), while Robert Gibson and Rhea Seddon became the first active duty astronauts to marry (both are now retired). Although classed as inactive, Shannon Lucid continues to serve as CAPCOM to shuttle missions in 2008. After the Challenger Disaster, Sally Ride would serve on both the Rogers Commission and the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.