Setting A Good Example

Setting A Good Example

Have you ever had the feeling that you were being watched?  I grew up that way. When you live in a small town where your family has lived for generations, everyone knows your pedigree and knows who you are.  Do something wrong and your momma, grandmamma, and great-grandmamma are sure to find out.  It tends to keep you out of trouble. I was shy and quiet when I entered high school.  Then, I was selected to be a cheerleader, and I was expected to...

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Working With PJs

Working With PJs

Among my most interesting jobs at NASA was one of my first important ones.  The first Space Shuttle launch was scheduled for the spring of 1981.  My class of “Thirty Five New Guys” who had joined the Astronaut Corps in 1978 hoped we’d get to play a role in that exciting upcoming event. Director of Flight Crew Operations George Abbey called me to his office in 1980 with a request: “Rhea, do you think you could work on the search and rescue...

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Secrets to Becoming an Astronaut

Secrets to Becoming an Astronaut

So you want to become an astronaut? It’s not easy. The positions are competitive…highly, but astronauts are still being selected to fly aboard the International Space Station which now orbits the Earth. When I applied in 1977, it was the first time women and minorities earned the right to apply. Imagine that! The specifics have changed in the last half decade but a college degree is always a prerequisite with preferably an advanced degree...

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Barf Bag Anyone?

Barf Bag Anyone?

Throwing up is never pleasant.  Imagine what it would be like in weightlessness. Two thirds of space travelers have some form of motion sickness, ranging from dizziness to nausea to vomiting.  It might have been present in the early days of spaceflight, but it became more apparent with the Space Shuttle. From sitting on the launch pad to being weightless took eight and a half minutes.  Unlike astronauts who flew in cramped capsules, Shuttle...

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Plutonium Brownies

Plutonium Brownies

As can be imagined, the NASA managers and engineers were careful about what went on board the Space Shuttle. Each piece of equipment, each item that went into the stowage lockers, each widget or pair of socks had a part number and was catalogued in voluminous detail for each mission. Nothing could be left behind on the ground; nothing could be there that shouldn’t be. All astronauts understood this was a necessary attention to detail for...

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(Potty) Training Your Astronaut

(Potty) Training Your Astronaut

Potty training is never easy for children – or adults planning to go into space. I had been an astronaut for four years and married for a little over a year when our first child, Paul, was born in July of 1982.    My first Space Shuttle flight was slated for early 1985. As every mother knows, two year olds can be a challenge.  Paul was in the throes of the “terrible twos” but, otherwise, he was a wonderful little boy.  Then there was the potty...

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