Name tag sized Payload Commander Patch "To pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.". Astronauts - The Payload Commander. A Payload Commander is responsible for the coordination of any experiments that are carried out during a space mission.. the bomb load, warhead, cargo, or passengers of an aircraft, a rocket, missile, etc., for delivery at a target or destination. the total complement of equipment carried by a spacecraft for the performance of a particular mission in space.. Astronaut ranks and positions Jump to Payload Commander (PLC) A Mission Specialist with additional responsibility for the management of the science or other major payload elements of the mission. Story Musgrave, Michael P. Anderson: Payload Commanders are always NASA astronauts. Mission Specialist (MS) A NASA astronaut assigned to a Shuttle crew with mission-specific duties. Jerry L. Ross . All statistics valid as of July 2017. General Facts . 59 different women total including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists, and foreign nationals have flown in space.. Primary payload was the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-1), located in payload bay; activated by crew and operated by teams on ground. SRL-1 included the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and the X-band .