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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Head On A Swivel

Head On A Swivel

When I got to NASA in 1978, I had a lot to learn. Being a good flight crew member was one of the most important things I would need to know. Shortly after we got to Houston, we began training to fly in the back seat of the NASA T-38 jets. We knew that if we mastered that kind of flying, we might someday train to fly as a crewmember on the Space Shuttle. How was it going to feel flying with some of the best pilots in the nation? Many of my pilot...

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Thirty-Five New Guys Reunite

Thirty-Five New Guys Reunite

In January of 1978, NASA announced its newest class of Astronauts. There would be thirty-five in the class. It would include women and minorities for the first time. They came from across the nation: big cities and farms, Ivy League schools and state colleges, civilian and military, pilots and scientists, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, atheists…and one Buddhist. There were fifteen designated as Pilots and twenty as Missions Specialists. The...

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Poking Fun

Poking Fun

Among Astronauts, there was friendly competition and joking around. Those of us who didn’t come from the military had to learn what this was all about, so we could understand it—and sometimes join in.   It might have sounded like “harassment” but it was all in fun. Pilots who joined the Astronaut Corps had either been fighter pilots or attack pilots. The job of fighter pilots had been to engage enemy fighter pilots. They protected the troops on...

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Awaiting Launch

Awaiting Launch

Launch day was always exciting when I was about to board the Space Shuttle. There was a different kind of excitement when I was the “supporting spouse.” Hoot and I had a lot of experience doing both of these things. He flew before me in 1983, and I played the supporting role. Our firstborn son—and the world’s very first Astrotot—Paul was only 18 months old and a handful! He was learning to walk and wanted to toddle everywhere. In the early days...

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An Amazing Astronaut

An Amazing Astronaut

What was the world’s impression of the original Astronauts of the ’50s and ’60s? Heroes, experienced jet pilots, brave test pilots: all macho men. Would you believe, when I met him in 1978, one of these macho men was a kindly soul tapping into his creative side? In the mid-1970s, NASA decided to take a new group of Astronauts who would fly aboard its new vehicle, the Space Shuttle. Crews of up to seven would include pilots,...

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