Story and photos by Tazewell County Museum Ed Emmons
Pekin's own Scott Altman will be inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in April at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He will be the 97th Astronaut voted in. This will be latest honor for Scott, as he has been honored by the Tazewell County Museum and has the Scott Altman Room located there, as well as many items on loan from NASA on display. The Elementary School in Sunset Hills has been renamed the Scott Altman Elementary School, where currently a bust of Altman sits in the lobby of the school on loan from the Museum.
In 2010 Scott was honored by riding in the Pekin Marigold Festival. In March of 2013 a bronze bust of Scott was unveiled in his honor, done by artist Morgan Elser of Delavan. The bust currently sits in the lobby of the Scott Altman school on loan from the Museum. Pekin has also honored him by signs into Pekin, saying Hometown of Astronaut Scott Altman. Scott has also has been the recipient of many other awards as an Astronaut and that of a fighter pilot. That information will be on here from NASA.
Here are a few photos from over the years on his trips back to Pekin.
Right: Scott riding in the 2010 Pekin Marigold Festival.
Right: Scott at the renaming of the Sunset Hills Grade School, to the Scott Altman Elementary School.
Left: Scott posing in the newly named Scott Altman Room at the Tazewell County Museum.
I recently interviewed Scott about being inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame and what if means to him. I ask Scott: What are your thoughts on being inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame? Scott said,"I am incredibly honored to be selected to join this group. Looking back on my career I can see how much I owe to all the folks who have made this possible, to my crews to the team at Goddard Space Flight Center to the Mission Operations folks who trained us and also watched over the missions. Spaceflight is truly a team effort and I believe this is really a shared honor with all those folks."
I ask Scott: How does it feel to be in the Hall of Fame considering the great Astronauts that made it there before you? Scott said," My heroes are part of the Hall, from Neil Armstrong who sent me an email during my last mission and with whom I share my Navy fighter pilot experience, having been in the same fighter squadron, to Hoot Gibson, Space Shuttle Astronaut extraordinaire to John Young, moon walker who was still in the office when I arrived. It is heady company and I am very grateful but humbled to put my career alongside theirs."
I ask Scott: Growing up as a kid did you ever think of being an Astronaut and if you did, I'm sure you could have never imagined the success and accolades bestowed upon you someday? Scott said, "I always wanted to be a pilot, and in my career found myself looking to keep going higher and faster. The shuttle was the ultimate answer to that dream. When I was 10 and watched the first moon landings, I never dreamed that one day I would be involved in the space program. Astronauts seemed so unreal to me, a different class of humans. It was when we went to Houston as part of my Test Pilot School field trip and met some Navy Astronauts that I realized Astronaut's were actually real people, and that this was what I really wanted to do next!"
I ask Scott: I know your involved with the Astronaut Scholarship program, tell me a little about that? Scott said, " The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was formed by the original Mercury Seven to help motivate the next generation of scientist, engineers, and Astronauts. Every year a class of deserving college students is selected for a significant amount of scholarship money. This last class had 43 scholars selected! The Foundation's mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in technology and innovation by supporting the very best and brightest scholars in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics's while commemorating the legacy of America's pioneering Astronauts."
I ask Scott: From my perspective your a big part of the Tazewell County Museum, what would you tell Tazewell County residents or any Museum, why its important to support Museum's and save the past? Scott said, " I think by preserving and celebrating the past we get a better understanding of where we are now and how we got here. Knowing that can help us prepare for the future and inspire the next generation who will stand on the shoulders of those who came.
If you want to read more about Scott and his career or biography, just go to the NASA website. Thanks Scott.