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.

After Challenger

Posted by on November 4, 2020 in Weekly Blog | 2 comments

After Challenger

After Challenger With the renewed interest about the Challenger accident from the Netflix series, I’ve been asked about what happened afterward. Reflecting on the aftermath of the accident has given me time for introspection. Everyone knows about the Rogers Commission which determined that a leaking O-ring on one of the boosters was the cause of the loss of Challenger and that the problem could be fixed. One thing that could not be fixed was the loss of so many dear friends and the havoc it wreaked on their families for the rest of their...

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Words of Encouragement

Posted by on September 29, 2020 in Preperation, Weekly Blog | 8 comments

Words of Encouragement

Have you ever heard words that changed your life?  So often we bumble along with so much jabber in our ears that we don’t really hear the important things.  But simple words of encouragement can change our lives.  On Oct. 4, 1957, I heard words that made set me off on a life’s journey. I was almost 10 and my father took me out in the yard to see the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, fly overhead.  When I asked if people would someday go into space, he told me they probably would.  When I asked “Could I go into space someday?”  Daddy said,...

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My Biggest Science Project

Posted by on September 4, 2020 in Astronauts, Space, Space Shuttle, Weekly Blog | 3 comments

My Biggest Science Project

Did you know that I donated my body to science…twice? I became an Astronaut because I was interested in understanding what happens to humans when they venture away from gravity. We experience gravity from the time we are conceived. When the opportunity came for me to fly aboard two unique Shuttle flights that would gather information on human adaptation to space, I volunteered to be a subject. Little did I know what that would entail. In 1978, I learned that scientists from all over the world could propose experiments to be performed on...

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Two By Two

Posted by on August 4, 2020 in Astronauts, Weekly Blog | 7 comments

Two By Two

When my husband, Hoot Gibson, and I watched the launch of the SpaceX spaceship recently, we were as excited as the rest of the country that NASA was launching from American soil again.  We also realized that, although we don’t personally know Bob Benkhen and Doug Hurley, we share something unusual with them.  Can you guess what it is? Bob and Doug are married to other Astronauts, Megan McArthur and Karen Nyberg, respectively and each has a son.  When we married almost 40 years ago it was the first time active duty Astronauts married and there...

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Rendezvous in Space

Posted by on June 30, 2020 in Astronauts, Crews, Weekly Blog | 2 comments

Rendezvous in Space

Many around the world watched the Space X Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon module launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying Bob Benkyn and Doug Hurley into space. The crew module went on to unite with the International Space Station. The approach and docking were fully automated and worked flawlessly. I remember the days when the mating of huge objects in space was much more complicated – and fraught with peril. Exactly how can you join together two space vehicles whirling around the Earth at over 17,000 miles per hour? Or why would you...

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Flyovers

Posted by on June 2, 2020 in Weekly Blog | 4 comments

Flyovers

When a gaggle of airplanes fly overhead, you can be certain that it means a special event.  I’ve witnessed a bunch of these flyovers, some exhilarating, some sorrowful and some proud.  I’ve spotlighted several of them in this story. When astronauts finished their training for a flight, they’d fly the NASA jets to Cape Canaveral and swoop around the launch pad where their Shuttle stood.  It was a sign to all the workers who came out to watch that “We are here and ready to fly.”  It was an incredibly exciting moment for all of us! When my...

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Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted by on April 28, 2020 in Weekly Blog | 1 comment

Light at the End of the Tunnel

January 1986 was the beginning of the worst year of my life.  On Jan. 28 the Challenger exploded killing seven Astronauts, my friends.  It was totally unexpected and unprecedented.  Our entire space program was set adrift.  What could we do? We had to begin with what had to be done.  It was an incredibly sad and difficult time. First, there were grieving families to support.  Then there were bodies to retrieve and to bury with honor.  A cause for the accident had to be found to understand whether our Space Program would continue.  We would...

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Too Many Changes

Posted by on April 1, 2020 in Weekly Blog | 5 comments

Too Many Changes

In the “olden days” when Space Shuttle flights were just beginning, as Astronauts were named to flights there were several things that had to be done.  An announcement was sent to the Public Affairs Office for release to the press.  Next a crew picture was taken and a patch designed.  The payload was assigned to the mission and the appropriate Space Shuttle chosen.  On occasion that careful planning went haywire. When I was assigned to fly in August of 1983 the flight was designated STS-41E, the 16th shuttle flight, on Discovery, to launch in...

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Almost a Disaster

Posted by on March 4, 2020 in Astronauts, Weekly Blog | 7 comments

Almost a Disaster

The days after the Challenger accident in 1986 were terrible. All of NASA and its contractors were put to work to find and fix the cause of the tragedy. When the corrective actions were taken and the country was ready, NASA prepared for its new missions. Little did anyone know that danger awaited one of the next flight crews. In an effort to keep Mission Control personnel and Astronaut crews well trained, two “practice” flights were designed – one military and one civilian. For the Astronaut Office, four crews were put together. They...

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The Crawler

Posted by on February 5, 2020 in Astronauts, Weekly Blog | 1 comment

The Crawler

My husband, Hoot, and I had many exciting moments in our Astronaut careers.  “Roll out” was always a thrilling time as we prepared for our flights.  Many steps, many people, many machines made that day possible.  Eventually that special day would come when the enormous doors on the Vehicle Assembly Building, the VAB, at the Kennedy Space Center opened and our glorious Space Shuttle began its slow journey to the launch pad.  The most awesome thing about roll out was the “Crawler”.    In 1965, the Marion Power Shovel Company in Marion, Ohio was...

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