SPACE CENTER, Houston -- Married astronauts Mark Lee and Jan Davis will be allowed to fly together on a September 1992 shuttle flight, becoming the first husband-and-wife team to fly in space at the same time, NASA said Wednesday.
Lee and Davis are assigned to a Spacelab science mission sponsored by Japan aboard the new shuttle Endeavour in September 1992. It was learned in January that the two astronauts had married, prompting NASA officials to review their assignment to the flight.
Although NASA has an unwritten policy against assigning married couples to the same mission, space agency managers decided to allow Lee, 38, and Davis, 37, to retain their spots on the seven-member crew.
'They're making an exception in this case since Mark is the payload commander and Jan has been working closely with the Japanese on their payloads and experiments, and just for the continuity of the flight,' said NASA spokeswoman Barbara Schwartz, noting the astronauts were assigned to the flight in 1989.
'In this case, the people who are in the chain of decision-making just got together and said, 'Should we do something or shouldn't we? And what are the pros and cons?' and just kind of reviewed the situation and decided they would let the assignment stand.'
Lee first flew in space aboard the shuttle Atlantis in May 1989. The Endeavour mission will be the first flight for Davis, who joined the astronaut corps in 1988.
Only eight other astronauts or cosmonauts have married each other in the history of the space program.
Cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev, who flew in space in 1962 and 1970, married fellow cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who became the first woman to orbit the Earth in a June 1963 flight.
In the United States, Robert 'Hoot' Gibson is married to fellow astronaut Rhea Seddon and former astronaut William Fisher is married to active shuttle flier Anna Fisher. Former astronauts Steven Hawley and Sally Ride later divorced. All six are shuttle flight veterans, although none has been assigned to the same mission.