ST. LOUIS – Retired astronaut Robert “Bob” Behnken received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor from Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday.

Behnken, a Pattonville High School graduate raised in St. Louis County, received the honor along with former astronaut Douglas Hurley. Behnken and Hurley are the first honorees since 2006 to receive this honor.

Behnken received the award for his accomplishments with NASA’s SpaceX Demonstration Mission-2 (Demo-2) to the International Space Station in 2020. On May 30, 2020, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launched to the space station, marking the first mission to launch with astronauts as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

As a space station crew member for 62 days, Behnken performed four spacewalks with former NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and contributed more than 100 hours to the orbiting laboratory’s scientific investigations.

Behnken became a NASA astronaut in 2000 and completed two space shuttle flights, logging 93 days in space. Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, and he performed three spacewalks during each mission. He retired from NASA in November 2022.

A St. Ann native, he earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University and a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from California Institute of Technology. Before joining NASA, Behnken was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force on the F–22.

The Congressional Space Medal of Honor was created by the United States Congress in 1969 to recognize exceptional efforts and accomplishments in space. It’s awarded by the president of the United States in Congress’s name on recommendations from the administrator of NASA.