The space agency yesterday announced selection of 35 new astronauts, including the first six women and the first three blacks, in America's space corps.
The agency also selected an Oriental from Hawaii.
The new list breaks sex and race barriers that have existed since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration named its first Mercury astronauts in 1959.
The astronauts will report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston July 1, joining 27 others on active duty, for two years of training. They will train to fly the Space Shuttle in the 1980s.
If military pilots, they will be paid their current wage. If civilians, they will be paid according to their education and experience. They will get no less than $21,800 a year and no more than $33,800 a year.
Pressed as to why there had been no blacks or women in the astroanuts corps until now, Johnson Space Center Director Christopher Columbus Kraft said yesterday there had been few qualified blacks and women the last time astronauts were chosen in August, 1967.
"The most rewarding thing [about this astronaut group] is that there were large numbers of qualified women and minorities this time around," Kraft said at a press conference in Washington. "We had no problem finding women and minorities who were qualified and highly motivated as to what they wanted to do."
The 35 winners, announced by NASA Administrator Dr. Robert Frosch, were chosen from among 8,079 applicants, including 1,544 women.
NASA identified the women as Anna Fisher of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.; Shannon Lucid of Oklahoma City; Judith Resnik of Redondo Beach, Calif.; Sally Ride of Stanford, Calif.; Margaret Seddon, Memphis, Tenn., and Kathryn Sullivan of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
All will serve as mission specialists -- a combination flight engineer and scientist -- on Space Shuttle crews.
The blacks are Air Force Maj. Bluford Guion of Dayton, Ohio, picked as a mission specialist; Air Force Maj. Frederick Gregory of Hampton, Va., chosen as a full-fledged Shuttle pilot and Ronald McNair of Marina Del Rey, Calif., a mission specialist.
The Hawaiian is Air Force Capt. Ellison Onizuka of Edwards Air Force Base, a mission specialist.
The space agency chose no blacks, women, or other minorities among the 73 astronauts selected in the past. There was a black Air Force major, Robert Lawrence, chosen by the Air Force as a potential space crewman when the military contemplated its own space program. But Lawrence was killed in a plance crash in 1967 and never bore the official title of astronaut.