The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command provides support to NASA with an Army astronaut detachment assigned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
There are currently three astronauts. Col. Andrew Morgan, detachment commander, and Lt. Col. Anne McClain were both selected for the astronaut program in 2013, and Lt. Col. Frank Rubio was selected in 2017, joining the detachment as an astronaut candidate that August.
USASMDC astronauts serve as part of the flight crew for NASA space programs. The command’s astronaut detachment provides engineering expertise for human interface with space systems, and provides focus to NASA for Army space operations. Ultimately, astronauts and detachment personnel enhance the Army’s ability to dominate the battlefield of the 21st century by using space capabilities with human space operations support.
Army astronauts help the Army define its requirements for the space program and enhance the Army’s use of space capabilities. These Soldiers are Army ambassadors to NASA and the public.
Today, the Army astronaut detachment continues to play key roles in manned and unmanned operational space systems for national space programs. Their role ensures space support for Army strategic, operational and tactical operations worldwide, develops space awareness throughout the Army, helps to determine requirements for Army space programs and provides operational advocacy for Army space initiatives.
McClain launched aboard the Soyuz MS-11 Dec. 3, 2018, to serve on the International Space Station as a flight engineer for Expedition 58 and 59, returning in June 2019. Morgan launched in July 2019 to serve on the International Space Station as a flight engineer for Expedition 60, 61 and 62; he is scheduled to return in March 2020.
There are 16 retired Army officers who have passed through the detachment. Some of them are still serving NASA as civilians.