Max Q – the All Astronaut Band

Max Q – the All Astronaut Band

The year after the Challenger accident in 1986 was a difficult, busy, and sad one for NASA’s Astronaut Corps. What could we do for fun?  Why not a Sock Hop?  For those who don’t remember the 1950s, high school dances were often held in the school gymnasium. Dancers had to remove their shoes, so they wouldn’t scratch the hardwood floor.  Everyone in the astronaut office was told to plan skits and wear the poodle skirts and bobby socks that were...

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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Spacefest—the June 9-12 event for space enthusiasts of any stripe (astronomy, manned and robotic space exploration, commercial space development, and space history enthusiast) — in Tucson, Arizona was amazing. Never have I seen so many space fans, especially today when people may believe that we no longer have a United States space program. The International Space Station is in orbit, we do send astronauts up there. But their numbers are few,...

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Flying after the Challenger

Flying after the Challenger

The Reality of Launch Nothing would ever compare to my first Shuttle launch: the noise, the vibration, the acceleration, and those crushing g-forces…and their sudden surrender to the onset of weightlessness. Having watched my friends’ and my husband’s fiery baptisms, my anxiety for my first launch was about getting into space at last, as well as the pressure to perform to the best of my ability. That perspective changed after January 28, 1986. ...

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Were You Afraid?

Were You Afraid?

That is one of the most frequent questions I am asked about my Space Shuttle launches. Would you be scared perched atop four and a half million pounds of explosives with someone about to light the fuse? I had been named as a crew member on a flight that was to launch in June, 1984.  Through many twists and turns in NASA’s schedule, I ended up training for three different flights until an April 12, 1985 launch date was locked in.  We had...

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A Remarkable Visit

A Remarkable Visit

On January 12, 1986, the crew of STS 61C suited up and headed for the Space Shuttle launch pad.  They had been trying get into orbit since December 18…with many grueling attempts that had worn them (and their families) out.  But this day was the right day: no malfunctioning equipment, no boats in the restricted area off the coast, no weather problems in Florida or at the overseas emergency landing sites.  The countdown proceeded, and soon they...

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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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