Selecting the first Spacelab crew

In January 1978, the year after the ASSESS-II mission, NASA named the first astronaut candidates to train for Space Shuttle missions as pilots and mission specialists. After a period of candidate training, they would be assigned to technical areas of support pending their first flight assignments. In March, NASA named the crews for the series of Orbital Flight Tests and in August, as Europe named their first astronauts for Spacelab 1, NASA released details of who would fill the mission specialist role on that first pioneering Spacelab mission - Owen Garriott and Robert Parker. The focus now shifted to qualifying the Shuttle system in the first four to six missions and verifying its operational capabilities by deploying communication satellites, prior to flying the first of a planned long series of Spacelab missions. For the team of scientist-astronauts who remained active in the CB, the prospect of either a second flight, or perhaps their only chance of their first mission, was getting closer - providing, of course, that the Shuttle could perform as it was designed to.

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