How Not To Drown

How Not To Drown

The most challenging thing I had to do after I became an astronaut was to become SCUBA qualified.  Why would astronauts need to do that?  If I was ever tasked with doing a spacewalk (called an EVA, or Extravehicular Activity), I’d have to train for it in the huge water tank at the Johnson Space Center.  The spacesuits used were specially made for practicing tasks in the water and were extremely heavy – too heavy and bulky to swim to the...

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Lunar Legacy

Lunar Legacy

The Russians were coming!  It was 1957, and their Sputnik satellite was orbiting the Earth.  Would they attack us from space?  We were scared. The Space Race…it was on. Could I ever be a part of it? In April 1961, the Russian Yuri Gagarin orbited above us.  In May of that year, President John Kennedy set the audacious goal for the United States to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the decade – which most of us...

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The Demise of the Astronaut Wives Club

The Demise of the Astronaut Wives Club

When NASA first selected humans to go into space at the beginning of the 1960s, the men’s wives quickly organized themselves into the Astronaut Wives Club to support the new space men.  Books and movies showcased those brave women.  Most had been in military wives’ groups.  They weathered absence and work schedules…even deaths.  Most had strong marriages, but a few didn’t last.  (I wondered if there was an Ex-Wives Club…) Growing up, I...

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g=Gravity

g=Gravity

From the time of our conception we have felt gravity.  It is the pull of the Earth on all of us and everything else.  Because we have defined it this way, we say we are at “1g” as we walk around. But did you know that it is possible to feel more than 1g – or less than 1g – here on Earth or in other strange places? I have experienced a whole range of gs.  Some were fun, others scary. When I began my training to fly aboard the Space Shuttle, I...

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Hoot’s Rules

Hoot’s Rules

Just after the Shuttle launched, a warning alarm sounded.  Sensors on one of a pair of components on a critical system had quit.  Pilot Charlie Bolden reached over to a panel on his right and powered off the failed system.  By mistake, he had turned off the working system.  Within moments, the vehicle began gyrating and pitched violently downward out of control toward the ocean.  They were doomed.  Luckily, Charlie, my husband Hoot Gibson, and...

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