The Mercury 13

The Mercury 13

Many people my age remember when, in April of 1959, we met our country’s first “spacemen,” the Mercury 7 Astronauts. They would be the first Americans to fly in space: instant heroes! Few know that there were women pilots who also underwent the testing to become Astronauts in those early days. Dr. Randy Lovelace had helped design and carry out medical exams on the thirty-two male Project Mercury candidates, and he wondered if women could also...

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Diapers, Underwear, and Makeup

Diapers, Underwear, and Makeup

There were many issues to address when women were first accepted into NASA’s Astronaut Corps. While some were important, others were mundane. All had to be decided. How could we urinate while waiting on the launch pad or during a spacewalk? Now that was a major concern of the space program and all six female Astronauts! The device made for the men wasn’t going to work for the women. While designers invented a variety of contraptions that fit...

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Where’s Waldo? A Different Perspective

Where’s Waldo? A Different Perspective

The view from space was incredible.  From 200 miles up, there was a completely new perspective.  To see the distinctive hook of Cape Cod or the blues and greens of the Great Barrier Reef as I sipped my morning coffee reminded me how lucky I was to be an Astronaut.  We had a wonderful teacher, Dr. Bill Muehlberger from the University of Texas in our early days of training.  He took us on field trips to show us what Earth looked like from ground...

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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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A Disorderly Christmas

A Disorderly Christmas

Hoot’s second Shuttle flight, his first as Commander, was scheduled for 1985, but many delays in the Shuttle program pushed it later and later into the year.  His crew was a great bunch—with several good friends from the Astronaut Corps.  Three members of the crew—Hoot, George “Pinkie” Nelson, and Steve Hawley—had flown before, but it was a first for Charlie Bolden, and Franklin Chang Diaz, as well as Payload Specialists (who would only be...

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Who Are Your Heroes?

Who Are Your Heroes?

So…who are your heroes?  People you know personally, people you esteem from afar, people whose lives you admire? I have had the honor of meeting many of my real-life heroes.  One was a fellow astronaut from a different era, Neil Armstrong.  You may remember him, the first human being to set foot on the moon.  His quote that day, July 20, 1969, is famous:  “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”  He came to the Johnson Space...

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