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.

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, Capt. Robert "Hoot" Gibson, 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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The Boneyard

Posted by on October 31, 2019 in Weekly Blog | 4 comments

The Boneyard

According to a legend, old elephants go to a mythical place to die – an elephant boneyard.  Do you know that there is another kind of “boneyard” on the desert sands in Arizona? One day when Hoot and I were flying from Houston to the west coast he said, “Look at what’s on the ground below.”  As he dipped the left wing of our NASA jet, I looked down and was reminded of pictures I had seen of the English countryside just before the D-Day invasion.  There were thousands of planes arranged beautifully wingtip-to-wingtip on the desert floor below. ...

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You CAN Take It With You!

Posted by on October 3, 2019 in Astronauts, Space | 6 comments

You CAN Take It With You!

I am frequently asked whether astronauts could take personal items with them on their Shuttle flights.  Yes – within the rules.  The rules were created after the Apollo 15 crew took a stack of envelopes to the moon and postal stamped them there, intending to sell them after the flight.   Afterwards NASA made that strictly against the rules.  No astronaut could personally profit from the sale of items flown in space, but that wasn’t to say everything had to stay back on Earth. The concept of the Personal Preference Kit (PPK) was introduced to...

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How Not To Drown

Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Astronauts, Preparation, Space | 2 comments

How Not To Drown

The most challenging thing I had to do after I became an astronaut was to become SCUBA qualified.  Why would astronauts need to do that?  If I was ever tasked with doing a spacewalk (called an EVA, or Extravehicular Activity), I’d have to train for it in the huge water tank at the Johnson Space Center.  The spacesuits used were specially made for practicing tasks in the water and were extremely heavy – too heavy and bulky to swim to the surface.  If something happened and the helmet flooded, how could the crewmember survive?  Staying calm and...

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Lunar Legacy

Posted by on July 3, 2019 in Astronauts, Mission, Space, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

Lunar Legacy

The Russians were coming!  It was 1957, and their Sputnik satellite was orbiting the Earth.  Would they attack us from space?  We were scared. The Space Race…it was on. Could I ever be a part of it? In April 1961, the Russian Yuri Gagarin orbited above us.  In May of that year, President John Kennedy set the audacious goal for the United States to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the decade – which most of us thought would never be possible, but what an exciting challenge it was! From its outset, it looked...

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The Demise of the Astronaut Wives Club

Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Astronaut Wives, 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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