Fourteen pilots were directly involved with the X-15, although only twelve actually flew the vehicles. There was no formal selection process, since everyone chosen was already a qualified test pilot.
Scott Crossfield and Alvin White were the prime and back-up North American Aviation test pilots who first became involved with the project. Air Force Captains Iven Kincheloe (prime pilot) and Robert White (back-up) were assigned to the X-15 in 1957. When Kincheloe was kiled in an accident (in a different rocket aircraft program), White became the prime pilot and Captain Robert Rushworth became his back-up. The first NASA pilots were Joseph Walker and Neil Armstrong. Lieutenant Commander Forrest Peterson represented the Navy.
Walker and Armstrong eventually were replaced by NASA pilots Jack McKay (1960), Milton Thompson (1963) and William Dana (1965). White and Rushworth were succeeded by Captain Joe Engle (1963), Captain William “Pete” Knight (1964) and Major Michael Adams (1966). The Navy selected Lieutenant Lloyd Hoover as Peterson's replacement, but he never trained or flew.
June 25 – Man In Space Soonest – USA
Note: Nine test pilots from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the United States Air Force (USAF), North American Aviation (NAA), and Douglas Aircraft Corporation were selected for the Man In Space Soonest project, a USAF initiative to put a man in space before the Soviet Union did. The project was cancelled on August 1, but two of these men would later reach space: Walker made two X-15 flights above 100 kilometers in 1963; and Neil Armstrong joined NASA in 1962 and flew in Project Gemini and Apollo, becoming the first human to set foot on the Moon at 02:56 UTC July 21, 1969.
April 9 – NASA Group 1 – Mercury Seven – USA
Note: The first group of astronauts selected by NASA were for Project Mercury in April 1959. All seven were military test pilots, a requirement specified by President Eisenhower to simplify the selection process. All seven eventually flew in space, although one, Deke Slayton, did not fly a Mercury mission due to a medical disqualification, instead flying later on the Apollo-Soyuz mission. The other six each flew one Mercury mission. For two of these, Scott Carpenter and John Glenn, the Mercury mission was their only flight in the Apollo era (Glenn later flew on the Space Shuttle). Three of the Mercury astronauts, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper and Wally Schirra, also each flew a mission during the Gemini program. Alan Shepard was slated to fly Mercury 10 before its cancellation and was the original commander for the Gemini 3 mission, but did not fly due to a medical disqualification. After surgery to correct the problem, he later flew as commander of Apollo 14. He was the only Mercury astronaut to go to the Moon. Wally Schirra also flew on Apollo as commander of Apollo 7, as well as Mercury and Gemini, the only astronaut to fly on all three types of spacecraft. (Gus Grissom was scheduled to fly the first Apollo flight, but died in a fire on the launch pad during training. It is also widely assumed that had he lived, he would have been the first man to walk on the moon.) Gordon Cooper was a backup commander for Apollo 10, the "dress rehearsal" flight for the lunar landing, and would have commanded another mission (likely to have been Apollo 13, according to the crew rotation), but was bumped from the rotation after a disagreement with NASA management.
At least one member of the Mercury Seven flew on every NASA class of human-rated spacecraft (but not space station) through the end of the 20th century: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle.
March 7 – Air Force Group 1 – USSR
Ivan Anikeyev, Pavel Belyayev, Valentin Bondarenko, Valery Bykovsky, Valentin Filatyev, Yuri Gagarin, Viktor Gorbatko, Anatoli Kartashov, Yevgeny Khrunov, Vladimir Komarov, Aleksei Leonov, Grigori Nelyubov, Andrian Nikolayev, Pavel Popovich, Mars Rafikov, Georgi Shonin, Gherman Titov, Valentin Varlamov, Boris Volynov, and Dmitri Zaikin.
Note: The initial group of Soviet cosmonauts was chosen from Soviet Air Force jet pilots.
April – Dyna-Soar Group 1 – USA
March 12 – Female Group – USSR
Note: On March 12, 1962, a group of five civilian women with parachuting experience was added to the cosmonaut training program. Only Tereshkova would fly. A leading Soviet high-altitude parachutist, 20-year-old Tatyana Kuznetsova was, and remains, the youngest person ever selected to train for spaceflight.
September 17 – NASA Group 2 – The Next Nine (Also: The Nifty Nine, The New Nine) – USA
Note: A second group of nine astronauts was selected by NASA in September 1962. All of this group flew missions in the Gemini program except Elliott See, who died in a flight accident while preparing for the Gemini 9 flight. All of the others also flew on Apollo, except for Ed White, who died in the Apollo 1 launchpad fire. Three of this group, McDivitt, Borman and Armstrong, made single flights in both Gemini and Apollo. Four others, Young, Lovell, Stafford and Conrad, each made two flights in Gemini and at least one flight in Apollo. Young and Lovell both made two Apollo flights. Conrad and Stafford also made second flights in Apollo spacecraft, Conrad on Skylab 2 and Stafford in Apollo-Soyuz. Six of this group, Borman, Lovell, Stafford, Young, Armstrong and Conrad, made flights to the Moon. Lovell and Young went to the Moon twice. Armstrong, Conrad, and Young walked on the Moon. McDivitt was later Apollo Program Director and became the first general officer and would have been either the prime LM Pilot or backup commander for Apollo 14, but left NASA due to a conflict between Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton. John Young also later flew on the Space Shuttle (STS-1 and STS-9) and would retire from NASA in 2004. He was both the first and last of his group to go into space.
September 19 – Dyna-Soar Group 2 – USA
Note: On September 19, 1962, Crews was added to the Dyna-Soar program and the names of the six active Dyna-Soar astronauts were announced to the public.
January 10 – Air Force Group 2 – USSR
Yuri Artyukhin, Eduard Buinovski, Lev Demin, Georgy Dobrovolsky, Anatoly Filipchenko, Aleksei Gubarev, Vladislav Gulyayev, Pyotr Kolodin, Eduard Kugno, Anatoli Kuklin, Aleksandr Matinchenko, Vladimir Shatalov, Lev Vorobyov, Anatoly Voronov, Vitaly Zholobov
October 17 – NASA Group 3 – The Fourteen – USA
Buzz Aldrin, William Anders, Charles Bassett, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Roger Chaffee, Michael Collins, Walter Cunningham, Donn Eisele, Theodore Freeman, Richard Gordon, Russell Schweickart, David Scott, Clifton Williams
Note: All of the third group (except those who died) flew on the Apollo program – Aldrin, Bean, Cernan and Scott walked on the Moon. Five of them (Aldrin, Cernan, Collins, Gordon and Scott) also flew missions during the Gemini program. Cernan would be the only astronaut from this group to fly to the Moon twice (Apollo 10 and Apollo 17), while Bean would command the Skylab 3 mission.
Bassett, Chaffee, Freeman and Williams all died before they could fly in space – Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire, the others in plane crashes.
January 25 – Air Force Group 2 Supplemental – USSR
May 26 – Voskhod Group (Medical Group 1) – USSR
June 11 – Civilian Specialist Group 1 – USSR
June 1 – Journalist Group 1 – USSR
Note: In 1965, three civilian journalists were selected for cosmonaut training in preparation for flight on a Voskhod mission. When the Voskhod program was canceled, Golovanov and Letunov were dismissed. Rebrov, on the other hand, stayed with the space program as a journalist until 1974.
June 1 – Medical Group 2 – USSR
Note: These physicians were selected for the long-duration Voskhod flights, all of which were subsequently canceled to make way for the Soviet Moon program. All three were dismissed at the beginning of the following year.
June 28 – NASA Group 4 – The Scientists – USA
Note: Graveline and Michel left NASA without flying in space. Schmitt walked on the Moon on Apollo 17. Garriott, Gibson and Kerwin all flew to Skylab. Garriott also flew on Space Shuttle flight STS-9, becoming the first Amateur radio operator (callsign W5LFL) to operate from orbit.
October 28 – Air Force Group 3 – USSR
Boris Belousov, Vladimir Degtyarov, Anatoli Fyodorov, Yuri Glazkov, Vitali Grishchenko, Veygeni Khludeyev, Leonid Kizim, Pyotr Klimuk, Gennadi Kolesnikov, Aleksandr Kramarenko, Mikhail Lisun, Aleksandr Petrushenko, Vladimir Preobrazhensky, Valery Rozhdestvensky, Gennadi Sarafanov, Ansar Sharafutdinov, Vasili Shcheglov, Aleksandr Skvortsov, Eduard Stepanov, Valeri Voloshin, Oleg Yakovlev, Vyacheslav Zudov
Note: This group of cosmonauts was selected for participation in five separate Soyuz programmes that the USSR was running. These included military programs (with and without the Almaz/Salyut space stations) and two lunar programs (only one of which aimed at an actual lunar landing). In the end, only the orbital program and the space station program went ahead, and few of the cosmonauts from this group ever were given the chance to fly.
November – USAF MOL Group 1 – USA
Note: This group was selected for training for the U.S. Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. Of this group, only Truly transferred to NASA after the cancellation of the MOL program and later flew on the Space Shuttle. In 1989, Truly became the first astronaut to be NASA Administrator.
April 4 – NASA Group 5 – USA
Vance Brand, John S. Bull, Gerald Carr, Charles Duke, Joseph Engle, Ronald Evans, Edward Givens, Fred Haise, James Irwin, Don Lind, Jack Lousma, Ken Mattingly, Bruce McCandless II, Edgar Mitchell, William Pogue, Stuart Roosa, Jack Swigert, Paul Weitz, Alfred Worden.
Note: Veteran astronaut John Young christened this group the "Original Nineteen", in parody of the original seven Mercury astronauts. Roughly half of them flew in the Apollo program, while others flew during Skylab and the Space Shuttle, with Brand also flying on the American half of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. Engle was the only NASA astronaut to have earned his astronaut wings before his selection. Two of this group never flew into space: Givens was killed in a car accident in 1967, and Bull resigned from the Astronaut Corps in 1968 after discovering he had pulmonary disease. Engle, Lind, and McCandless were the only ones from this group who never flew an Apollo spacecraft; Brand, Haise, Lousma, Mattingly, and Weitz all flew both an Apollo and a Shuttle (though Haise only flew in the Approach and Landing Tests, not into space).
May 23 – Civilian Specialist Group 2 – USSR
June 30 – USAF MOL Group 2 – USA
Note: This group was selected for training for the U.S. Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. All transferred to NASA after the MOL program was canceled and all five flew on the Space Shuttle as pilot astronauts.
January 31 – Civilian Specialist Group 2 Supplemental – USSR
May 7 – Air Force Group 4 – USSR
Vladimir Alekseyev, Vladimir Beloborodov, Mikhail Burdayev, Sergei Gaidukov, Vladimir Isakov, Vladimir Kovalyonok, Vladimir Kozelsky, Vladimir Lyakhov, Yuri Malyshev, Viktor Pisarev, Nikolai Porvatkin, Mikhail Sologub
May 22 – Academy of Sciences Group – USSR
Mars Fathulin, Rudolf Gulyayev, Ordinard Kolomitsev, Vsevolod Yegorov, Valentin Yershov
June – USAF MOL Group 3 – USA
Note: This group was selected for training for the US Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. Lawrence was the first African-American to be chosen as an astronaut, but was killed in a jet accident before the MOL program was canceled in 1969 (had Lawrence not died, he would have been, if accepted by NASA, the first African-American astronaut candidate, pre-dating Guion Bluford, Ronald McNair and Frederick Gregory by nine years). Peterson transferred to NASA in 1969 after the MOL cancellation and would fly on the Space Shuttle. Herres would later become the first Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1987.
October 4 – NASA Group 6 – XS-11 (The Excess Eleven) – USA
Note: This second group of scientist-astronauts were assigned as backup crew members for the last three Apollo missions or as backup crew members for Skylab. Except for Chapman, Holmquest, Llewellyn, and O'Leary - all of whom resigned from NASA before the end of the Apollo program - the group members eventually flew as Mission Specialists during the Space Shuttle program. With his flight on STS-80 at the age of 61, Musgrave held the title of "oldest astronaut" prior to John Glenn's second flight.
May 27 – Civilian Specialist Group 3 – USSR
Vladimir Fartushny, Viktor Patsayev, Valeri Yazdovsky
August 14 – NASA Group 7 – USA
Note: This group is all USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory astronauts who transferred to NASA after the cancellation of the MOL program in 1969. All flew on early Space Shuttle flights. Truly, in 1989, would become the first astronaut to become NASA Administrator, holding the position until 1992.
September 10 – Civilian Engineer Group – USSR
April 27 – Air Force Group 5 – USSR
February 25 – 1971 Scientific Group – USSR
May – Shuguang Group 1970 – China
Chai Hongliang, Dong Xiaohai, Du Jincheng, Fang Guojun, Hu Zhanzi, Li Shichang, Liu Chongfu, Liu Zhongyi, Lu Xiangxiao, Ma Zizhong, Meng Senlin, Shao Zhijian, Wang Fuhe, Wang Fuquan, Wang Quanbo, Wang Rongsen, Wang Zhiyue, Yu Guilin, Zhang Ruxiang
March 22 – Civilian Specialist Group 4 – USSR
March 22 – Medical Group 3 – USSR
Georgi Machinski, Valeri Polyakov, Lev Smirenny
March 27 – Civilian Specialist Group 5 – USSR
January 1 – Physician Group – USSR
August 23 – Air Force Group 6 – USSR
November 25 – 1976 Intercosmos Group – USSR
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 American female astronauts, and also the first black astronauts to fly, Guion Bluford and Frederick D. Gregory (the first black astronaut was Lawrence). Bob Stewart was the first Army astronaut to be selected (almost 19 years after the original Mercury Seven). 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-21 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 the Skylab 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). Shannon Lucid's tenure was unbroken from 1978 until she announced her retirement in 2012 - in later years she served as a space shuttle CAPCOM, up to the final day of the final shuttle mission. After the Challenger Disaster, Sally Ride would serve on both the Rogers Commission and the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
March 1 – 1978 Intercosmos Group – USSR
Aleksandr P. Aleksandrov (Bulgaria), Dumitru Dediu (Romania), Jose Lopez Falcon (Cuba), Bertalan Farkas (Hungary), Maidarzhavyn Ganzorig (Mongolia), Jügderdemidiin Gürragchaa (Mongolia), Georgi Ivanov (Bulgaria), Bela Magyari (Hungary), Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (Cuba), Dumitru Prunariu (Romania)
May 1 – Spacelab Payload Specialists Group 1 – ESA
August – USAF Manned Spaceflight Engineer – Group 1
Frank J. Casserino, Jeffrey E. Detroye, Michael A. Hamel, Terry A. Higbee, Daryl J. Joseph, Malcolm W. Lydon, Gary E. Payton, Jerry J. Rij, Paul A. Sefchek, Eric E. Sundberg, David M. Vidrine, John B. Watterson, Keith C. Wright
Of this group, only Payton ever flew into space, as a Payload Specialist aboard a dedicated Department of Defense Shuttle flight.
April 1 – 1979 Intercosmos Group – USSR
May 29 – NASA Group 9 – USA
Main article: NASA Astronaut Group 9
Of this group, Franklin Chang-Diaz would become the first Hispanic-American in space, Michael Smith would perish in the Challenger Disaster, while John Blaha would fly aboard the Mir space station. Both Jerry Ross and Chang-Diaz currently jointly hold the record of number of manned spaceflights flown at seven. Charles Bolden was chosen in 2009 to become the second NASA astronaut and the first African-American to the post of NASA Administrator on a full-time basis (although Frederick Gregory, who is also African-American and a former Shuttle commander, held the post on a temporary basis between the departure of Sean O'Keefe and the appointment of Michael Griffin in 2005). The announcement, made a day before the conclusion of the STS-125 flight to the Hubble Space Telescope, was coincidental, because Bolden was the pilot on the telescope's deployment flight in 1990.
MAP: Svetlana Savitskaya
AN-2: Irina Latysheva
1980 – CNES Group 1 – France
Chrétien and Baudry would become the first Frenchmen in space. Chrétien flew with Soviets to Salyut 7 in 1982, and Baudry on Space Shuttle STS-51-G flight in 1985. Chrétien would later fly to the Space Station Mir and would become a Shuttle Mission Specialist in the 1990s.