In February 2020, the Palm Springs Air Museum honored Rhea Seddon for her outstanding achievements in space as a NASA Mission Specialist. Her portrait was added to the Museum’s “Wall of Fame.”
Margaret Rhea Seddon had been awarded her doctor of medicine (MD) degree in 1973. She did her internship at the Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis and three years of residency at the University of Tennessee hospitals in Memphis. While there, she was the only woman in the General Surgery Residency Program.
In 1978, she applied for and was accepted into NASA as an astronaut candidate. Within a year, she started training as a mission specialist for her first Space Shuttle mission STS-51-D. The mission took place in April 1985 with the Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery. Her second mission was STS-40 in June 1991 and was a dedicated space and life sciences mission with the Spacelab on board the Space Shuttle Orbiter Columbia. Her third trip into space was in October and November 1993, again with the Spacelab Life Science module on board the Orbiter Columbia.
Her work at NASA also included the development of the Space Shuttle Orbiter and payload software, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, Flight Data File, Shuttle medical kit and checklists for launch and landing. She was a rescue helicopter physician for the early Shuttle flights and a support crew member for STS-6. She served on NASA’s Aerospace Medical Advisory Committee, as Technical Assistant to the Director of Flight Crew Operations, and as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center. In September 1996, she was detailed by NASA to Vanderbilt University Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. She assisted in the preparation of cardiovascular experiments that flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on the Neurolab Spacelab flight in April 1998. Seddon retired from NASA in November 1997. She subsequently became Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group.