Below, you can find the latest updates from Rhea as she shares her adventures on her journey into space as well as the many other adventures she’s had in her lifetime! Sign up at the bottom of the page if you’re interested in being notified each time she posts a new article.

Poking Fun

Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Astronauts, Stories | 2 comments

Poking Fun

Among Astronauts, there was friendly competition and joking around. Those of us who didn’t come from the military had to learn what this was all about, so we could understand it—and sometimes join in.   It might have sounded like “harassment” but it was all in fun. Pilots who joined the Astronaut Corps had either been fighter pilots or attack pilots. The job of fighter pilots had been to engage enemy fighter pilots. They protected the troops on the ground and carriers at sea. Then, there were attack pilots.   They dropped bombs on targets...

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A Piggyback Miracle

Posted by on September 24, 2018 in Launch, Space Shuttle, Stories | 3 comments

A Piggyback Miracle

John Kiker, “Mr. John” as our family knew him, was assigned to a nearly impossible task. As head of the Mechanisms Branch at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), he was asked to design a way to get the Space Shuttles to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida from landing sites in California or New Mexico. The initial plan was to fill the cargo bay with fuel and hang airplane engines on the wings. There were significant problems with that idea. First, with a bladder full of fuel in the bay, fuel lines would have to be run through the wings to...

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Awaiting Launch

Posted by on August 28, 2018 in Astronauts, Launch, Space, Stories | 6 comments

Awaiting Launch

Launch day was always exciting when I was about to board the Space Shuttle. There was a different kind of excitement when I was the “supporting spouse.” Hoot and I had a lot of experience doing both of these things. He flew before me in 1983, and I played the supporting role. Our firstborn son—and the world’s very first Astrotot—Paul was only 18 months old and a handful! He was learning to walk and wanted to toddle everywhere. In the early days of the Shuttle, families had to find their own way to Cape Canaveral for launches. This would be...

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An Amazing Astronaut

Posted by on July 25, 2018 in Astronauts, Heroes, Mission, Preparation, Space, Stories | 4 comments

An Amazing Astronaut

What was the world’s impression of the original Astronauts of the ’50s and ’60s? Heroes, experienced jet pilots, brave test pilots: all macho men. Would you believe, when I met him in 1978, one of these macho men was a kindly soul tapping into his creative side? In the mid-1970s, NASA decided to take a new group of Astronauts who would fly aboard its new vehicle, the Space Shuttle. Crews of up to seven would include pilots, scientists, and engineers. For the first time, women, minorities, and non-pilots could apply. NASA created a...

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The Mercury 13

Posted by on June 27, 2018 in Astronauts, Space, Stories, Uncategorized, Weekly Blog, Women | 3 comments

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 fare well in space. He and U.S. Air Force General Donald Flickinger, who served on the NASA Life...

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May I Borrow The Jet?

Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Astronauts, Preparation, Stories, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

May I Borrow The Jet?

Remember when you were young and you asked to borrow your parents’ car for a date?  What if you could borrow something faster? Say… a jet?  When I became an astronaut, non-pilot Mission Specialists (MSs) had to learn to fly in the backseat of NASA’s T-38 jets. We had instruction in the communication and navigation systems followed by training in doing the actual flying. The T-38s were slick little planes. They could speed around at 700 miles per hour at 40,000 feet and travel 800 miles in one “hop,” or flight.  MSs had to fly a certain...

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Rocket Science

Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Astronauts, Space Shuttle, Stories, Training, Weekly Blog | 0 comments

Rocket Science

“It ain’t rocket science” is often a term used to mean something isn’t as difficult as the building of rockets. For me, it meant the science that was done on rockets—like what I did on my Shuttle flights. Not long ago, I gave a talk to a group of research scientists who are performing ground-breaking studies in many engineering and science fields. I read summaries of their work…so complex I couldn’t understand it all. I began to think the science that I had done with NASA was simple by comparison. Then I decided that our “rocket science” was...

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Top Secret

Posted by on March 27, 2018 in Astronauts, Crews, Duct Tape, Preparation, Stories, Weekly Blog | 2 comments

Top Secret

Before we became Astronauts, NASA wanted to make sure we didn’t have a shady past. The application paperwork was extensive. If we were invited for an interview, we had a background check. When I returned from my week-long job interview at the Johnson Space Center, a neighbor came to see me. “Did you do something wrong?” he asked. “Some guy with an FBI badge came around asking questions about you.  He wanted to know whether you hung out with foreign nationals or were into drugs or were very secretive. I told him you were a surgery resident and...

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Collisions

Posted by on February 20, 2018 in Astronauts, Launch, Space Shuttle, Stories, Weekly Blog | 0 comments

Collisions

Our universe is vast—but that doesn’t mean things don’t run into each other.  Some say our moon was formed out of the debris from an Earth impact with a huge boulder named Theia. And later in Earth’s history, the dinosaurs and most life on our planet may have been destroyed by collision with an asteroid. On some dark nights, we can see meteors burning up as they enter our atmosphere. It’s no surprise then that our spacecraft sometimes get dinged up by things running into them, sometimes with dire consequences. We get help avoiding close...

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Wings

Posted by on January 23, 2018 in Astronauts, Patches, Space Fashion, Weekly Blog, Women | 7 comments

Wings

To military aviators, completing flight training carries a great deal of importance.  The end of the training culminates in a ceremony to certify they’ve earned their “wings.” Military wings have a symbol of their branch of the service with symbolic wings to the side. The United States Navy wings are gold, and the United States Air Force has silver ones. (Hence the Navy boot camp marching song: “I don’t know but I’ve been told Navy wings are made of gold. I don’t know but it’s been said Air Force wings are made of lead.”) For the recipients,...

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