How did our nation get to the moon in less than ten years from the time we first sent a man into space?
Thousands of people had a hand in that bold adventure. Today I meet them, their children, and their grandchildren who can’t wait to tell me their part in that story with pride. It was not until I got to NASA that I learned to appreciate the true value of teamwork.
We had close-knit teams that made sure our spaceflights went well. It took me a while to understand who those teams were, but they held my life in their hands. First there were my crewmates. I’d spend a year or more almost daily with them. We depended on each other.
There were those in charge of putting our vehicle together, people whose names I’d never know. The tasks were crucial, often requiring three or more people to cross-check one another’s work. They were so proud of the program of which they were a part. We visited their work sites at far-flung NASA centers to look them in the eye and shake as many hands as possible to let them know how important they were.
Our training team was in charge of ensuring we knew everything for the flight. At first they patiently went over every detail: systems, operations, connections to other systems, and—most importantly—what to do when something went wrong. Near launch in simulator runs, they tested our skills, team coordination, and ability to perform under pressure while coordinating with other teams. They went to the airport to see “their crew” off to launch and were there to proudly welcome us home.
The team in Mission Control in Houston supported the flight. They were there for all our simulations and during shifts for the entire flight. They knew everything about the vehicle, the payload, the timeline, the landing site weather—more things that the crew could ever digest. They knew how to help fix things that broke in flight and how to get us back to Earth if the worst happened. They stood up and cheered watching their large screen when we landed. “Welcome home, Discovery!”
I learned that everything is easier, more fun, and better if you have a team working with you. It is impossible to know everything and having team members whose expertise compliments yours makes all things possible.
These days I have a great team helping me get my book together. We enjoy working together, we support one another, and we respect each other’s talents. We have an ambitious goal, which I hope you’ll see not long from now.
Thank you for your support in this endeavor and for being part of my team!
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