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.

Flying after the Challenger

Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Launch, Space Shuttle, Weekly Blog | 3 comments

Flying after the Challenger

The Reality of Launch Nothing would ever compare to my first Shuttle launch: the noise, the vibration, the acceleration, and those crushing g-forces…and their sudden surrender to the onset of weightlessness. Having watched my friends’ and my husband’s fiery baptisms, my anxiety for my first launch was about getting into space at last, as well as the pressure to perform to the best of my ability. That perspective changed after January 28, 1986.  As we all witnessed the Challenger accident and its aftermath – both public and private, nothing...

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Were You Afraid?

Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Author, Go For Orbit, Launch, Preperation, Space, Weekly Blog | 5 comments

Were You Afraid?

That is one of the most frequent questions I am asked about my Space Shuttle launches. Would you be scared perched atop four and a half million pounds of explosives with someone about to light the fuse? I had been named as a crew member on a flight that was to launch in June, 1984.  Through many twists and turns in NASA’s schedule, I ended up training for three different flights until an April 12, 1985 launch date was locked in.  We had practiced the flight in every way possible.  The simulators at the Johnson Space Center could be rotated so...

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A Remarkable Visit

Posted by on March 23, 2016 in Author, Crews, Go For Orbit, Launch, Mission, Space, Space Shuttle, Stories, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

A Remarkable Visit

On January 12, 1986, the crew of STS 61C suited up and headed for the Space Shuttle launch pad.  They had been trying get into orbit since December 18…with many grueling attempts that had worn them (and their families) out.  But this day was the right day: no malfunctioning equipment, no boats in the restricted area off the coast, no weather problems in Florida or at the overseas emergency landing sites.  The countdown proceeded, and soon they were in orbit. Since crewmember Franklin Chang was the first astronaut from Costa Rica, there was a...

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Barf Bag Anyone?

Posted by on February 25, 2016 in Go For Orbit, Preparation, Stories, Weekly Blog | 4 comments

Barf Bag Anyone?

Throwing up is never pleasant.  Imagine what it would be like in weightlessness. Two thirds of space travelers have some form of motion sickness, ranging from dizziness to nausea to vomiting.  It might have been present in the early days of spaceflight, but it became more apparent with the Space Shuttle. From sitting on the launch pad to being weightless took eight and a half minutes.  Unlike astronauts who flew in cramped capsules, Shuttle crew members could unstrap immediately, float around, and soon fly headfirst downstairs to the living...

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What’s the Hold Up?

Posted by on February 12, 2016 in Destiny, Stories, Weekly Blog | 3 comments

What’s the Hold Up?

Nuts and Bolts… Most people think that the Space Shuttle vehicle itself sat on the launch pad ready for launch. It didn’t. Only the nozzles of the Solid Rocket Boosters were attached to the launch platform. Like a giant fat bird, balanced on two tiny feet, the boosters were holding up the entire thing. Here’s the tale of how they were held securely in place – and let go for launch. There were over a million moving parts on the Shuttle: more than any other human invention! Many of these bits and pieces had to work in harmony—perfectly—to...

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Plutonium Brownies

Posted by on January 28, 2016 in Go For Orbit, Launch, Mission, Preparation, Stories, Weekly Blog | 5 comments

Plutonium Brownies

As can be imagined, the NASA managers and engineers were careful about what went on board the Space Shuttle. Each piece of equipment, each item that went into the stowage lockers, each widget or pair of socks had a part number and was catalogued in voluminous detail for each mission. Nothing could be left behind on the ground; nothing could be there that shouldn’t be. All astronauts understood this was a necessary attention to detail for mission success…but were forever finding ways to get around the rules. They had willing allies. Astronauts...

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(Potty) Training Your Astronaut

Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Go For Orbit, Preparation, Space, Stories, Training, Weekly Blog | 2 comments

(Potty) Training Your Astronaut

Potty training is never easy for children – or adults planning to go into space. I had been an astronaut for four years and married for a little over a year when our first child, Paul, was born in July of 1982.    My first Space Shuttle flight was slated for early 1985. As every mother knows, two year olds can be a challenge.  Paul was in the throes of the “terrible twos” but, otherwise, he was a wonderful little boy.  Then there was the potty training…for the both of us!  About this time, I also had to begin potty training for spaceflight....

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A Very Good Year

Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Holidays, New Year's Eve, Weekly Blog | 2 comments

A Very Good Year

A new year is almost here. And as I look forward to 2016, I smile as I reflect upon so many New Year’s Eves of the past. A couple stand out in my memory. As a junior surgery resident, someone had to cover the pandemonium of the Emergency Room at the John Gaston Hospital in Memphis on the night of December 31, 1976. It was my turn, and I wasn’t happy about it. I had worked all day and would have to handle the chaos for another 12 hours. Needless to say, there were a lot of partiers who were soon to land on my doorstep. I found it unnerving...

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The Season: Giving and Receiving.

Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Christmas, Weekly Blog | 5 comments

The Season: Giving and Receiving.

December is a remarkable time of the year—a time for giving and receiving. Some celebrate Christmastime as a remembrance that God gave the world his Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us to love one another and to be good human beings. Regardless of one’s spiritual preferences, we all share some important beliefs about this time: it is a time for brightening the long winter days with sparkling trees, visiting friends and family, and giving and receiving gifts with generosity and appreciation. Many of us remember the excitement of Santa Claus,...

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Launch, Space, The United States, Weekly Blog | 2 comments

Thanksgiving Thoughts

In this season of giving thanks, what will you be thankful for? Most are grateful for families and friends, as well as for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.   We give thanks for the food we share on Thanksgiving Day and the promise of Christmas and the New Year to come. In addition to all these marvelous things, I am thankful for the opportunity that I had to fly in space–gaining a whole new perspective on this Earth we inhabit. Her diversity of mountains, plains, lakes and rivers fascinates. At night, it is obvious by the...

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