You CAN Take It With You!

You CAN Take It With You!

I am frequently asked whether astronauts could take personal items with them on their Shuttle flights.  Yes – within the rules.  The rules were created after the Apollo 15 crew took a stack of envelopes to the moon and postal stamped them there, intending to sell them after the flight.   Afterwards NASA made that strictly against the rules.  No astronaut could personally profit from the sale of items flown in space, but that wasn’t to say...

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A Change of Scenery

A Change of Scenery

It was August.  It was hot.  I was sweating when I took the proverbial “hot seat” on August 28, 1977 – almost exactly 42 years ago. Earlier that year, I had learned that – at last! – NASA had opened the applications for the Astronaut Corps to women.  I’d requested, received and filled out an application.  Unexpectedly, I was invited to the Johnson Space Center near Houston to learn about the job and to be interviewed by the Astronaut Selection...

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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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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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