NASA Honors History of Veterans in Space Program

More than half of all NASA astronauts, past and present, are military veterans. So it is fitting that in honor of Veterans Day, current and former astronauts have shared warm messages to all those who've served and sacrificed in the armed forces of the United States.

On Nov. 2, International Space Station Expedition 53 Commander and retired Marine Col. Randy Bresnik saluted veterans in a video message, alongside retired Marine Corps Col. and current space station flight engineer Mark Vande Hei, as well as retired Army Col., former Marine reservist and current flight engineer Joe Acaba. The three NASA astronauts asked that the sacrifices of veterans to maintain democracy always be remembered.

On Nov. 10, Bresnik also wished the Marine Corps a happy 242nd anniversary via Twitter, writing, "We know that our core values of courage, honor [and] commitment are more than merely words."

He and other astronauts, including former space station crewmember Jack Fischer, released special messages on social media in anticipation of Nov. 11, which marks the anniversary of the end of World War I and is now the holiday Veterans Day.

The blues and whites of planet Earth play backdrop to the Marine Corps medallion that floats in the ISS cupola during Bresnik's video message.

Out of the 375 NASA astronauts, 216 have been military veterans. (Image credit: NASA)

"I want to thank all of you and your families for their service and sacrifices to our corps and country," he said, highlighting his personal compassion for veterans. Before becoming an astronaut, Bresnik had a career in the military, beginning in May 1989 as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and later as an F/A-18 test pilot in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, U.S. Air Force Col. and Expedition 52 astronaut Jack Fischer, who returned from the space station on Sept. 2, spoke with veterans who traveled to the site. Fischer later shared an image of the event on Twitter, along with a special message.

Few things can compare to the honor of meeting WWII, Korea and Vietnam vets today--thank you for your sacrifices to keep us all free

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Doris Elin Urrutia
Contributing Writer

Doris is a science journalist and contributor. She received a B.A. in Sociology and Communications at Fordham University in New York City. Her first work was published in collaboration with London Mining Network, where her love of science writing was born. Her passion for astronomy started as a kid when she helped her sister build a model solar system in the Bronx. She got her first shot at astronomy writing as a editorial intern and continues to write about all things cosmic for the website. Doris has also written about microscopic plant life for Scientific American’s website and about whale calls for their print magazine. She has also written about ancient humans for Inverse, with stories ranging from how to recreate Pompeii’s cuisine to how to map the Polynesian expansion through genomics. She currently shares her home with two rabbits. Follow her on twitter at @salazar_elin.