The Boneyard

The Boneyard

According to a legend, old elephants go to a mythical place to die – an elephant boneyard.  Do you know that there is another kind of “boneyard” on the desert sands in Arizona? One day when Hoot and I were flying from Houston to the west coast he said, “Look at what’s on the ground below.”  As he dipped the left wing of our NASA jet, I looked down and was reminded of pictures I had seen of the English countryside just before the D-Day...

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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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The Demise of the Astronaut Wives Club

The Demise of the Astronaut Wives Club

When NASA first selected humans to go into space at the beginning of the 1960s, the men’s wives quickly organized themselves into the Astronaut Wives Club to support the new space men.  Books and movies showcased those brave women.  Most had been in military wives’ groups.  They weathered absence and work schedules…even deaths.  Most had strong marriages, but a few didn’t last.  (I wondered if there was an Ex-Wives Club…) Growing up, I...

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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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