Almost a Disaster

Almost a Disaster

The days after the Challenger accident in 1986 were terrible. All of NASA and its contractors were put to work to find and fix the cause of the tragedy. When the corrective actions were taken and the country was ready, NASA prepared for its new missions. Little did anyone know that danger awaited one of the next flight crews. In an effort to keep Mission Control personnel and Astronaut crews well trained, two “practice” flights were designed...

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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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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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What are astronauts really like?

What are astronauts really like?

These modern-day heroes became my friends in the Shuttle’s heyday.  All are very bright (some brilliant), friendly, hard-working, reliable, and productive.  I had the opportunity to serve twice on selection boards for new astronauts.  We liked to say we were looking for high-performing, low-maintenance people. That is not to say they were serious all the time.  In fact, they were the most fun-loving people I have ever known.  There was the...

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