Vice President Kamala Harris will present two former NASA astronauts with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony on Tuesday, according to White House officials and NASA.
Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken will be awarded “for bravery on NASA’s SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (Demo-2) to the International Space Station in 2020,” NASA said in a news release. The ceremony marks the first Congressional Space Medal of Honor since 2006.
The two piloted SpaceX’s first manned launch as part of NASA’s first commercial crew mission to the International Space Station in 2020. This is the first astronaut to be launched into orbit from the United States in nearly a decade. Since the 2020 launch, five manned missions with 13 American astronauts and seven international astronauts have launched to the ISS, according to White House officials.
Hurley, who served in the Marine Corps, and Behnken, who served in the Air Force, were military test pilots before joining NASA in 2000. An experimental supersonic aircraft to become an astronaut.
The award recognizes “an astronaut who, in the performance of his duties, has distinguished himself by extraordinary and admirable efforts and contributions to the well-being of the nation and of mankind.” Since it was approved by Congress in 1969, 28 people have been awarded, including 17 posthumously, according to White House officials.
Harris, who has chaired the National Space Council as part of her portfolio, will present the award Tuesday afternoon at an awards ceremony from the Indian Treaty Office at the Eisenhower Administration Office.