Latest Updates from Rhea

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.

Setting A Good Example

Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Astronauts, Heroes, Practice, Preparation, Stories, Weekly Blog, Women | 0 comments

Setting A Good Example

Have you ever had the feeling that you were being watched?  I grew up that way. When you live in a small town where your family has lived for generations, everyone knows your pedigree and knows who you are.  Do something wrong and your momma, grandmamma, and great-grandmamma are sure to find out.  It tends to keep you out of trouble. I was shy and quiet when I entered high school.  Then, I was selected to be a cheerleader, and I was expected to be outgoing.  As a result, I learned, and I changed. Going away to college let me “find myself,” –...

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Hurricanes & The Space Program

Posted by on September 28, 2017 in Astronauts, Stories, Weekly Blog | 0 comments

Hurricanes & The Space Program

When Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston, it brought back memories of my NASA days in that area.  Thirty-four years ago this month, my husband, fellow Astronaut, Hoot Gibson, and I experienced a fearsome hurricane up close. The Johnson Space Center is located near the Texas Gulf Coast, half-way between Houston and Galveston.  It has seen its share of storms.  Our home for much of our astronaut careers was on a bayou…not far from Galveston Bay. In August 1983, a storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico and became Hurricane Alicia. It was...

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Diapers, Underwear, and Makeup

Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Astronauts, Mission, Space, Space Fashion, Stories, Weekly Blog, Women | 3 comments

Diapers, Underwear, and Makeup

There were many issues to address when women were first accepted into NASA’s Astronaut Corps. While some were important, others were mundane. All had to be decided. How could we urinate while waiting on the launch pad or during a spacewalk? Now that was a major concern of the space program and all six female Astronauts! The device made for the men wasn’t going to work for the women. While designers invented a variety of contraptions that fit the female anatomy, these things were awkward and uncomfortable. How about an adult diaper? Disposable...

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Working With PJs

Posted by on July 25, 2017 in Crews, Heroes, Mission, Practice, Preparation, Stories, Weekly Blog | 1 comment

Working With PJs

Among my most interesting jobs at NASA was one of my first important ones.  The first Space Shuttle launch was scheduled for the spring of 1981.  My class of “Thirty Five New Guys” who had joined the Astronaut Corps in 1978 hoped we’d get to play a role in that exciting upcoming event. Director of Flight Crew Operations George Abbey called me to his office in 1980 with a request: “Rhea, do you think you could work on the search and rescue operations for the first four Shuttle flights?” I jumped at the chance – not knowing exactly what...

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Where’s Waldo? A Different Perspective

Posted by on June 28, 2017 in Astronauts, Space, Stories, Weekly Blog | 1 comment

Where’s Waldo? A Different Perspective

The view from space was incredible.  From 200 miles up, there was a completely new perspective.  To see the distinctive hook of Cape Cod or the blues and greens of the Great Barrier Reef as I sipped my morning coffee reminded me how lucky I was to be an Astronaut.  We had a wonderful teacher, Dr. Bill Muehlberger from the University of Texas in our early days of training.  He took us on field trips to show us what Earth looked like from ground level, then showed us pictures of what the same areas looked like from space. We were enthralled. ...

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Funny Names

Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Astronauts, Patches, Stories, Weekly Blog | 5 comments

Funny Names

Many new worlds opened when I joined NASA in 1978: aviation, aviators, the military and their machines. It took a while to be able to tell the difference between an F-14 and an F-16 jet aircraft even though they were remarkably different.  Although I’d looked up the names of my classmates in our class of 35 before we gathered at the Johnson Space Center, many didn’t answer to the names that appeared on the list.  Almost half of our class came from the military—often from the flying world—where they had acquired nicknames or “call signs.” ...

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Secrets to Becoming an Astronaut

Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Astronauts, Crews, Preparation, Space, Weekly Blog | 0 comments

Secrets to Becoming an Astronaut

So you want to become an astronaut? It’s not easy. The positions are competitive…highly, but astronauts are still being selected to fly aboard the International Space Station which now orbits the Earth. When I applied in 1977, it was the first time women and minorities earned the right to apply. Imagine that! The specifics have changed in the last half decade but a college degree is always a prerequisite with preferably an advanced degree (Ph.D. or MD, for instance).  Was there a trio of people who you’d trust to recommend you?  There were...

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My Best Space Moment

Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Astronauts, Crews, Preperation, Space Shuttle, Stories, Weekly Blog | 6 comments

My Best Space Moment

How do Astronauts keep in touch with their families when they are orbiting the Earth? Communicating with loved ones became more sophisticated over time.  In the beginning, families could send up brief messages with other NASA information to the Shuttle’s antiquated printer. Later on, those few words could be sent with packets of information to our onboard computer.  Neither of those methods were private, and so they were painfully terse: “Miss you!”  “Kids say HI.” or “Come home soon.” Some ingenious engineers, communications specialists, and...

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Real Hidden Figures

Posted by on February 24, 2017 in Heroes, Stories, Weekly Blog, Women | 1 comment

Real Hidden Figures

If you haven’t seen the movie, Hidden Figures, you should. It is a true story, a tale of a group of African-American women hired at the dawn of NASA for their superior mathematical skills. It reminded me of so many things at NASA. People ask: do you miss flying in space? Well, yes, a little. Mostly, I miss the fine people. Like the people in the movie, they weren’t all perfect, but they learned from their mistakes and always tried to improve. It was part of the culture. I remember an episode that taught me some important lessons. I had been...

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Challenger: Still There…

Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Astronauts, Heroes, Space Shuttle, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

Challenger: Still There…

A little over three decades ago, January 28, 1986 began one of the worst times of my life. I watched as seven friends and the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded into a ball of fire moments after take-off. Soon, all the Astronauts were assigned to assist in the search, recovery, and rebuilding of the United States space program. I was sent to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to help with the identification of the fragments of the accident. In a huge hangar, all of Challenger’s recovered bits and pieces were being collected and assembled into...

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