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NEWS | Nov. 18, 2020

Army astronaut receives prestigious qualification device

By Ronald Bailey U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

Lt. Col. Anne McClain received the Army astronaut device from Gen. James Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command, during a Nov. 10 ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

McClain is the only active duty Soldier who has been presented the device, considered the rarest qualification device any Army Soldier can receive.

McClain became eligible for the device following her 204-day mission to the International Space Station as a flight engineer for NASA Expeditions 58/59 from Dec. 3, 2018, to June 24, 2019. During her spaceflight, she contributed to hundreds biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science experiments. She also conducted two spacewalks totaling more than 13 hours.
  
Army regulation 600-8-22 authorizes award of the device by the chief of staff of the U.S. Army to personnel who complete a minimum of one operational mission in space. "Space" is considered 50 miles above the earth. It is affixed to the appropriate Army Aviator Badge, Flight Surgeon Badge or Aviation Badge awarded to the astronaut. 

McClain, a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served as an Army aviation officer and has more than 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircraft. She was selected in June 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class.

She is one of three active duty Army astronauts and is a member of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command's NASA Detachment. Col. Andrew Morgan serves as the detachment commander and Lt. Col. Frank Rubio completed training and became the Army’s newest astronaut in January.

The Army Astronaut Program allows active duty Army personnel who are admitted to NASA’s Astronaut Candidate Program to complete a two-year training process and serve as an astronaut while serving on active duty. 

Dickinson served as the commanding general of USASMDC from January 2017 to December 2019, which was during the time period McClain served aboard the ISS.