It is no secret that Navy SEALs, the special operations force of the US Navy, are constantly striving to out-perform themselves and each other, but how far can they go? In 1984, one of them went above and beyond his teammates and made history.
“At the time, NASA was taking astronaut candidates who were not just pilots,” said Capt. William Shepherd, retired SEAL, and the first commander of the International Space Station. “There were candidates made up of doctors, engineers and scientists, and I looked at that and said, ‘You know, I’ve spent a lot of time in the water in my SCUBA gear, and that’s an awful lot like being in a space suit, so I think I’ll just apply and see what happens.'”
Not long after, Shepherd learned he would become a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps, making him not only the first military non-aviator, but also the first Navy SEAL to go through astronaut training in US history.
After four years of training, Shepherd embarked on the space shuttle mission STS-27 (Space Transformation System 27), and launched into space for his first time December 2, 1988 from the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.