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.

The Demise of the Astronaut Wives Club

Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Uncategorized, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

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 had a similar group of girlfriends.  In high school I had the pleasure of having both book-ish friends...

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g=Gravity

Posted by on April 30, 2019 in Uncategorized, Weekly Blog | 1 comment

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 had to learn a great deal about gs.  My indoctrination began when I started flying in the NASA jets,...

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Hoot’s Rules

Posted by on April 2, 2019 in Uncategorized, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

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 the crew of STS 61C were flying the simulator that day.  What was the lesson and how could a mistake...

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Head On A Swivel

Posted by on February 27, 2019 in Astronauts, Space, Uncategorized, Weekly Blog | 1 comment

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 classmates had flown in combat in Vietnam and were graduates of test pilot school. Some had...

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Thirty-Five New Guys Reunite

Posted by on January 30, 2019 in Astronauts, Crews, Reunions, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

Thirty-Five New Guys Reunite

In January of 1978, NASA announced its newest class of Astronauts. There would be thirty-five in the class. It would include women and minorities for the first time. They came from across the nation: big cities and farms, Ivy League schools and state colleges, civilian and military, pilots and scientists, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, atheists…and one Buddhist. There were fifteen designated as Pilots and twenty as Missions Specialists. The group decided to call themselves The Thirty-Five New Guys, or TFNGs. I was one of the “guys.” When we...

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Poking Fun

Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Astronauts, Stories | 3 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 | 4 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 | 9 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 | 6 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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