Author Topic: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride  (Read 158031 times)

Offline Ares67

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Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« on: 09/27/2014 09:07 PM »
A Ride to Remember


This Space Shuttle history report is intended as a tribute to

Dr. Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012)

Space pioneer, role model and an inspiration to many


“I think an astronaut’s first flight is special. You haven’t experienced launch before, you haven’t experienced weightlessness before, and you haven’t experienced the view of the Earth before. And when you put all those three things together in a one-week experience, it’s an experience that you’ll never have again in your life… I wanted to be an astronaut because I thought it would be a challenging opportunity. It was; it was also an experience that I shall never forget.”

- Sally Ride, Mission Specialist Challenger STS-7 (1983) and STS 41-G (1984)

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #1 on: 09/27/2014 09:09 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #2 on: 09/27/2014 09:12 PM »
Seventh Heaven

LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN

Hi, everyone – yes, I’m still alive… in case you’ve missed me. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting so long for this, the second part of my three-part look back at Challenger’s first missions in 1983. Wow, it’s almost been a whole year since I’ve posted the STS-6 report – and a lot has happened since then. I’m afraid I’m currently having less free time for this project besides work and family life… and in addition to that, for several weeks during June and July 2014, I’ve been somewhat distracted by TV coverage of my country’s national football team finally catching the well deserved fourth star at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil (1954* 1974* 1990* 2014*) – It was a time when, apart from my work on the STS-7 report, the number “Seven” got a whole new meaning for me… just look at the sum of digits: 2+0+1+4, yes, it’s 7… For Jogi Löw’s team it’s been a total of seven World Cup matches on the road to glory… one of them at Belo Horizonte, July 8, 2014, semifinal, Brazil vs. Germany 1:7 , with a record four goals for Germany in seven, no, actually only six minutes during the first half. And all that against the five-time World Cup champion Brazil. Unbelievable!

Just checking the sum of digits of 1983 – 1+9+8+3, that’s 21, three times seven   …Okay, let’s not overdo it!

In any case, I’m more committed to quality rather than speed when it comes to producing these Space Shuttle mission reports. And with these early Challenger stories it’s almost like writing a book – for STS-7 it is an 815 KB MS Word text file (398 pages), complemented by some 1.2 GB of photos. That’s another reason why it took me so long to finish this latest result of my history project. But now your patience will be rewarded… with the tale of two orbiters.

First, I’ll take you not only on an E-ticket Ride aboard STS-7 and add reports of other space-related topics during that same timeframe. For obvious reasons there’ll be some Star Trek references – although, don’t expect any Seven of Nine stuff… As you probably know from my earlier posts, I’m a self-confessed Trekkie, or Trekker as they say – something I seem to have had in common with one of my heroes, the late Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer. And then you’ll hear about “Vikings” – no, not the Canadian/Irish TV series… Apart from the brilliant third season of BBC’s “Sherlock,” that’s one of the television highlights I’ve really enjoyed recently; both are highly recommended… This “Vikings” chapter, of course, deals with Mars and will include some of Sally Ride’s thoughts about the Red Planet.

Furthermore – with the help of another of my heroes, the unforgotten science communicator Dr. Carl Sagan – you’ll get the naked truth (literally!) about a special message that left the planetary realm of our solar system in June 1983. Carl Sagan will also be a major part of the “Vikings” chapter.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2014 09:28 PM by Ares67 »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #3 on: 09/27/2014 09:13 PM »
LOVE STORY

“When you are in love you want to tell the world.”

- Carl Sagan, “The Demon-Haunted World,” 1995


But this here is not merely a matter of telling you about America’s first lady in space, or about talking about my heroes, or about my favorite TV shows, or about the World Cup. It’s also about my rendezvous with a very special “lady” from the U.S., who I met near my hometown in May 1983. Fittingly she was on her way to the City of Love… and her name was “Enterprise.”

As I compiled images and wrote up texts for the section dealing with that encounter, it turned out that I still seem to be feeling very passionate about her... As a result the “Enterprise” part grew a little bit out of proportion and didn’t fit into the main topic, i.e. Sally Ride and mission STS-7 any longer.

And so, for reasons of continuity, I’ve decided to leave the European/Canadian tour of May/June 1983 in the STS-7 thread, but to put the additional “life and times” story that has resulted from my efforts – spanning Enterprise’s forty-year history (1974 to 2014) – into a separate thread:

OV-101 Enterprise – It’s Been A Long Way

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35828.msg1269814#msg1269814
   
As I’ve told you before, this Space Shuttle history project is absolutely a labor of love and you can rest assured – the next one will always follow, no matter how long it takes. My pleasure, I assure you…

- Oliver, aka Ares67

****   8)
« Last Edit: 10/12/2014 10:36 PM by Ares67 »

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #4 on: 09/27/2014 09:18 PM »
Shortcuts


Part One: WOMEN’S ISSUES – A DIFFERENT KIND OF CREW

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1263281#msg1263281


Part Two: MISSION PREVIEW AND PREPARATIONS

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1263436#msg1263436 


May 1983: VIKINGS

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1263644#msg1263644

May/June 1983: THESE ARE THE VOYAGES

First entry http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1263639#msg1263639

Main entry http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1263691#msg1263691

June 1983: PIONEER 10 – THE FINAL FRONTIER

First entry http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1263632#msg1263632

Main entry http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1263798#msg1263798


Part Three: MISSION STS-7 DAILY FLIGHT LOG

Saturday, June 18, 1983 (Launch Day) – E-Ticket Ride

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1264654#msg1264654

Saturday, June 18, 1983 (Flight Day 1) – Nothing Very Exciting Happening

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1265306#msg1265306

Sunday, June 19, 1983 (Flight Day 2) – Repeat Performance

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1266410#msg1266410

Monday, June 20, 1983 (Flight Day 3) – A Useful Day For Everybody

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1266482#msg1266482

Tuesday, June 21, 1983 (Flight Day 4) – In The Heat Of The Day

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1267220#msg1267220

Wednesday, June 22, 1983 (Flight Day 5) – Space Ballet

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1267281#msg1267281

Thursday, June 23, 1983 (Flight Day 6) – On The Home Stretch

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1268323#msg1268323

Friday, June 24, 1983 (Landing Day) – The Wrong Coast

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1268362#msg1268362


Part Four: POSTFLIGHT EVENTS AND MISSION RESULTS

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35731.msg1269190#msg1269190
« Last Edit: 10/10/2014 10:30 PM by Ares67 »

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #5 on: 09/27/2014 09:23 PM »
One Plus Four Equals Seven

The seventh flight in the Space Shuttle program was the second flight for the orbiter Challenger. The crew consisted of two pilot astronauts and three Mission Specialists, making it the largest single-mission crew in the history of the American space program. More importantly, at least in public perception, STS-7 was NASA’s first flight by a mixed male and female crew.

The official emblem for the mission is a round, four-inch diameter patch. It has an outer band of red color. At the top of the band the name Challenger is written in white letters; at the bottom, the crewmembers’ surnames – Crippen, Fabian, Hauck, Ride, Thagard – are also listed in white. A thin white line borders the outer red band and frames the inner space scene.

The inner scene has a background of dark navy blue which represents the background of outer space. Dispersed throughout this background are seven bright white stars which symbolize the mission designation. At the right, a bright yellow Sun shines on the Earth, aesthetic cloud swirls and atmospheric layers of different shades of blue and white to the left, and the underside of the orbiter depicted in the center of the emblem.

Joined in the center of the Sun are four white arrows and a cross – elements of the common Mars and Venus symbols for male and female. Of course, they represent the five crew members.

A head-on view of Challenger dominates the center of the scene as it orbits the blue-white globe below. The lower side of the orbiter is highlighted with gold, as if reflecting the Sun. The orbiter is primarily white; silver and grey are used for aesthetic shading and black is added for detail. The payload bay doors are open, and the Remote Manipulator System arm, bending at all joints, is extended in the shape of an Arabic 7 – an additional symbol of the mission designation. A similar maneuver actually was performed by the Challenger crew using the real RMS during STS-7.

(Judith Kaplan/Robert Muniz, “Space Patches,” Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 1986; description on STS-7 decal – edited)

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #6 on: 09/27/2014 09:27 PM »
And now for something completely different…

Let’s start with the NSF version of British illustrator Martin Handford’s “Where’s Wally?” – Or “Waldo”, since the photos were taken on a sunny southern California day in September 1976. By the way, in Germany this book series is called “Wo ist Walter?”… But here let’s make it:


“Where’s Jesco?” – And then: “Where’s Carl?”

… “Where’s Enterprise?” – Okay, stop that! It’s silly!   

Yes, I’m also into Monty Python…   ;D


Yet another question comes to my mind: “Where’s Bill?”

Seriously, does anybody know why William Shatner wasn’t there?

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #7 on: 09/27/2014 09:29 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #8 on: 09/27/2014 09:30 PM »
Part One: WOMEN’S ISSUES – A DIFFERENT KIND OF CREW

IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

“It’s not just that Star Trek projects into the future a sense of hope for the human species. It’s not just that Star Trek instills a sense of adventure. Or that it opens the eyes of young people to the possibility of lift-off from this planet. It’s not just that it glorifies space travel and that human beings are going forth in peaceful exploration, or that this Gene Roddenberry has given us a reason to hope in that peaceful exploration, in noninterference with other cultures, that we can live as intelligent life forms in the Universe. That someday we will make contact and have peace with them. Perhaps there are intelligent people who do not want to be like the Klingons. That we will face these things that are not understandable for us not with militance, but with a sense of wonder in our hearts.

That is not the only reason that I am a fan myself of this beautiful show that gave us IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. That makes this work so critical: A Universe worth living in, and the equality for men and women in peaceful exploration, knowing we are better than we think we are. It is not even that. What I have come here for today is to find out for myself if Miss Uhura’s legs are as beautiful in person as they appear on the TV screen.”


- Jesco von Puttkamer (1933 – 2012), at the 1975 Star Trek Convention in Chicago


(By Nichelle Nichols)

The room erupted in laughter, and the reporter who’d posed the question (“Dr. von Puttkamer, you are an eminent scientist. What would cause a man of your stature to lend his presence to this extravaganza? To a television series?”) blushed furiously. I turned to my friend sitting next to me, the author Harlan Ellison, and asked, “What did he say just then?” – “He says he likes your gams,” Harlan replied.


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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #9 on: 09/27/2014 09:34 PM »
WHERE THE HELL IS “ME?“

The granddaddy of all the conventions was held in my hometown of Chicago in 1975 and attended by over thirty thousand people. It was the first time NASA permitted a representative to attend in an official capacity. I had noticed a tall, handsome, fortyish gentleman with a shock of white hair, speaking in a warm Prussian accent that recalled a younger Henry Kissinger, sitting on our panel, and I wondered who he was. I remember thinking, Boy, he’s handsome. I discovered he was Jesco von Puttkamer, NASA’s director of science.

When I heard that Dr. von Puttkamer was going to give a presentation that night, I couldn’t miss it. I sat through it with awe. I admit that until then I had not been fully aware of exactly what our national space program was about. Like most Americans I’d marveled t the program’s historic accomplishments: Alan Shepard’s first manned suborbital flight in 1961, John Glenn’s first manned orbital flight in 1962, and Edward White’s first spacewalk in 1965. For man’s first steps on the Moon on July 20, 1969, I had sat watching the television, utterly amazed, celebrating with champagne. I’d admired those real-life American heroes of the new, and final, frontier: Shepard, Glenn, White, Bean, Borman, Schirra, Armstrong, and Aldrin, and Collins.

But like most Americans, my interest began to wane as the space program seemed to have become a protracted, expensive, high-tech experiment. NASA fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 edict to put a man on the Moon and return him to Earth by the decade’s end.

From its inception in 1958, NASA pursued its lavishly funded, politically popular mission. But it was not purely scientific desire to explore space that made that possible, but Cold War political necessity to claim and control space. In a nation still sold on the domino theory of possible Communist domination, the sky above loomed as the biggest, the ultimate threat to peace.

Paradoxically, as the hope and tumult of the sixties receded, success crippled the space program. It was easy for us to rally behind NASA when it was going head-to-head with the Soviets in a race for space. But as soon as we broke the tape at the finishing line, the race was over. Without a symbolic goal as clear and definite as the American flag on the Moon, NASA and its supporters found the country’s romance with space cooling.

The programs dedicated solely to unmanned exploration were vaguely familiar, but by then public attention had returned to Earth, where issues such as the war on poverty, Vietnam, and civil rights remained unsettled. Not long after man walked on the moon, we began alluding to that historic, awe-inspiring moment with cynicism, as in “If they can put a man on the Moon, why can’t they…” Fill your pet peeve.

Listening to Dr. von Puttkamer was a revelation to me. He put the space program in perspective and opened my eyes to its purpose and promise. This is our future, I thought. This is me. Then it hit me: Where the hell is “me?”

There was no one in the astronaut corps who looked anything like me. There were no women, no Blacks, no Asians, no Latinos. I could not reconcile the term “united States space program” with an endeavor that did not involve anyone except white males. No offense to those fine, brave men, but if we in America tell our children they can be all that they dream, why weren’t there women and minority astronauts? Thousands of fans wrote thanking me for Uhura’s inspiration. Little Black girls and boys, Latino and Asian children had a legitimate right to share in that dream. Things had to change.

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #10 on: 09/27/2014 09:39 PM »
SO WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

Not long after Dr. von Puttkamer’s speech at the Chicago Star Trek Convention, Jimmy Doohan, George Takei, and I were invited to tour the Washington headquarters of the National Aeronautics And Space Administration. By then Dr. von Puttkamer, who served as senior staff scientist in the Advanced Programs Office at NASA’s Office of Space Flight and program manager of space industrialization and space colonization, had become a familiar speaker at Trek Conventions. He introduced us to Dr. James Fletcher, then the agency’s Administrator.

 Must confess to you that I am such a Star Trek fan,” he said. “I am in awe. I’m nervous just meeting you.” As we soon learned, NASA was overflowing with Trekkers. Through Dr. von Puttkamer and many other wonderful people I met at NASA, I learned so much about the space program, and especially its newest manned-flight project, the Space Shuttle.

As I toured several sites, I had some amazing, eye-opening experiences, such as flying an eight-hour mission aboard the Kuiper C-141 Astronomy Observatory (with an all-Trekker crew of serious scientists and astronomers thrilled to have Uhura aboard), touring the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Alabama Space Rocket Center. In 1976 I was honored to be invited to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to witness the touchdown of the Viking lander on Mars and delighted in receiving a copy of the first photograph it transmitted from the planet’s surface.

In early 1977, because of my interest in the space program and the work we’d done to promote the program through Women in Motion, Inc., I was appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Space Institute, a civilian organization founded by Wernher von Braun. That January I gave a speech before NSI’s annual joint board/council meeting in Washington, D.C., entitled “New Opportunities for the Humanization of Space.” In it I challenged NASA and everyone else involved in the space program to answer the question I’d heard a thousand times in my travels: “Space? So what’s in it for me?”

I recounted the criticism of the program I’d heard from women, minorities, and the general public, then offered a range of suggestions for regaining the American people’s trust, understanding, and support.

Apparently my speech made an impression, because soon John Yardley, who headed NASA’s Office of Manned Space Flight, invited me to discuss some of the issues I’d raised. NASA was more than halfway into its sixth astronaut recruitment drive, and while the administrators assured me that they had made every effort to attract more women and minorities, they had a big problem: Precious few were applying.

This was especially disappointing, since the Space Shuttle mission was the first that would be partially manned by astronauts who were not pilots, theoretically opening the doors to people who might not have been considered or needed for earlier missions.

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #11 on: 09/27/2014 09:43 PM »
HOW ABOUT LIEUTENANT UHURA?
 
They were absolutely baffled. “What I don’t understand is why you don’t understand it,” I responded. “You’ve had five recruitments prior to this in the years since Apollo and before, and you have never seen fit to acknowledge the qualifications of women and minorities by including them in the astronaut corps. Not one person of color? Not one woman on the entire planet qualifies? We all know that’s not so. But you’ve already sent a message: Don’t bother to apply.”

“What should we do about it?” John Yardley asked. “We only have four or five months left in this recruiting drive, and, Nichelle, we mean business this time.”

“How is this time different?” I asked.

“Before, we had an all-male astronaut corps because we needed test pilots, people with jet training. With the shuttle, though, we need a new kind of astronaut, a scientist astronaut. Now the qualifications are totally different. Size is not a factor, and eyesight is not a factor as long as it can be corrected with glasses.”

Dr. Harriett Jenkins, administrator of Equal Employment Opportunity, said, “Nichelle, we’ve got to find a way to let people know about this, and somehow our message is not being received. How would you correct this?”

Convinced of the sincerity of John Yardley, with whom I had worked several years before on another project, and that of Dr. Jenkins, one of NASA’s first Black female administrators, I felt I could be frank. “Well, of course, time is of the essence. I think you have to get somebody with great visibility and great credibility to do a media blitz, through speeches, articles, public service announcements and commercials, on talk shows, and any other way you can. You also need someone who will get out there and identify qualified people. Let them do an outreach and convince the public that NASA is serious, no matter what the inequities before this. Tell them that this is a new era, a new step. You need to change people’s minds, make them understand that you’re serious and that this isn’t just some public relations ploy.”

“Who do you suggest we use for this?”

“John Denver. He has always been a supporter of the space program. He is highly respected for his humanitarian work. He’s a beautiful person; everyone love him. Bill Cosby. He’s a father figure to the nation; people trust him. Coretta Scott King. There’s no one finer than she to say, ‘This is a new opportunity.’”

I was lost in thought, trying to come up with more names, when John Yardley asked, “How about Lieutenant Uhura?”

I laughed. “I thought we were talking seriously. Besides, you don’t want me to do it. The first thing everyone will say is that NASA went and got a Hollywood astronaut, that it’s a publicity stunt. No one will listen. They’ll laugh at me.”

“Not after they hear you speak for five minutes, Nichelle.”

I asked for it, didn’t I? It’s very easy to get up on a soapbox and talk about who should be doing what, to complain and to criticize. Now NASA was offering me, on a silver platter, no less, the chance to help make the changes I believed in.

“Okay, but I have some conditions,” I said. “It has to be more than a media blitz; I want to seek out and identify qualified people. And they must be truly qualified, because I don’t want anyone to think for one second that someone unqualified got here through affirmative action. There cannot be a token woman sitting by the door here. If you want this done in the few months you have left, then you must let me work as a NASA contractor, and let my company handle everything. I don’t mind reporting to you, but to make this happen, I have to be free to formulate it, organize it, and carry it out.”

“And, finally, this: If I put my name and my reputation on the line for NASA, and I find qualified women and minority people to apply, and a year from now I still see a lily-white, all-male astronaut corps, I will personally file a class-action suit against NASA. I will not be used to attract publicity and then later hear you say, ‘Gee, we really tried, but there just weren’t any qualified women or minorities out there.’

All agreed. Of course, when it came time to talk money, the department heads present pleaded poverty. Finally John said, “This project gets done!” He directed his staff, General McNichol, and von Puttkamer to see that it be funded through his office. The next day over lunch he paid me a great compliment: “That was the fastest thinking I ever saw.”
« Last Edit: 09/27/2014 09:50 PM by Ares67 »

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #12 on: 09/27/2014 09:49 PM »
STANDING BY, READY TO RECEIVE

I had only until the end of June – less than six months – to find the astronauts of tomorrow. In January I flew to Houston to undergo a modified version of astronaut training and briefing. In February my office set up my travel itinerary, and I was ready to go. By this time, I had fallen in love with my mission, so I suppose there was something to the fact that I began my journey on Valentine’s Day. Over the next several months, I stopped in every major city in the country, visiting colleges and high schools, speaking and testifying before legislatures, professional organizations, and anyplace else I might find a potential astronaut.

I made a series of public service announcements and produced a film with Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, to say that “Space is for everyone,” underwent real astronaut training, and even had my own authentic NASA astronaut’s uniform, which I treasure to this day. News of my involvement in the recruitment drive spread through the media, into national publications such as Newsweek and People, the major daily newspapers of every town I visited, and national television programs, including Good Morning America.

My fears about public distrust of NASA were soon confirmed. Many times my contract at a university or organization warned, “They’ve heard all this stuff from NASA before, and they’re not going to believe it now.” I faced down these cynical glares, answered the hostile questions, and while most of my appearances met with interest and enthusiasm, not all did.

Midway through the recruitment drive, I appeared with Gene Roddenberry at the Fourteenth Space Congress. Dr. von Puttkamer chaired a panel Gene and I were on, and it made me very proud to see the respect and admiration Gene and Star Trek commanded among the space program’s top people. That August, Jimmy Doohan and I were NASA’s guests to witness the Space Shuttle Enterprise make its first desert test landing.

Those whirlwind months were among the most exciting and personally rewarding of my life, so rich with experience that I could have written a separate book about them alone. Women in Motion, Inc.’s final report to NASA on our recruitment drive, weighing in at over four pounds, was thicker than the Manhattan Yellow Pages. By any measure, the shuttle astronaut recruitment drive was a success.

In the seven months before Women in Motion, Inc. began, NASA had received only 1,600 applications, including fewer than 100 from women and 35 from minority candidates. Of these, NASA told me, none of the women or minority applicants qualified. By the end of June 1977, just four months after we assumed our task, 8,400 applications were in, including 1,649 from women ( a fifteen-fold increase) and an astounding 1,000 from minorities. Without an active outreach effort, fewer than five percent of those might have applied.

Among these applicants were many names destined for history, including Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, and Fred Gregory and Guy Bluford, two of the first African-American astronauts, as well as three astronauts whose lives were cut short in the Challenger disaster: Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair and Ellison Onizuka.

Altogether NASA received over 24,000 inquiries regarding the thirty to forty available positions. Although I closed our final report to NASA with: “Hailing frequencies closed, signed, Project Manager,” for NASA, our space program, and our future, I remained standing by, ready to receive.

(Nichelle Nichols, “Beyond Uhura – Star Trek and other Memories,” Boxtree Ltd, London, 1995 – edited)

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #13 on: 09/27/2014 09:55 PM »
Thirty-Five New Guys…  Or Rather, Guys and Girls

“Federal employment must be made free from any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Law, Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)

“I was a Star Trek freak, and the communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, showed up on TV in a blue flight suit. As I recall, there was a 747 in NASA colors behind her – you could hear it. But she pointed at me and she said, ‘I want you to join the astronaut program.’ So, shoot, if Lieutenant Uhura looks at me an tells me that, that got me thinking about it.”

- Astronaut Frederick Gregory, one of the Thirty-Five New Guys

“I was naked, lying on my side on a table in the NASA Flight Medicine Clinic bathroom, probing at my rear end with the nozzle of an enema. ‘Welcome to the astronaut selection process,’ I thought. It was October 25, 1977. I was one of about twenty men and women undergoing the three-day physical examination and personal interview process that were part of astronaut candidate screening… Yes, the odds were long, but I was going to give it my best shot. At the moment that best shot was aimed squarely at where the Sun didn’t shine. I was in the process of preparing for my first proctosigmoidoscopy.”

- Astronaut Mike Mullane, one of the Thirty-Five New Guys


PALE, MALE, AND STALE

To the public, NASA and its astronauts were all but synonymous. The corps of America’s spacefarers had flourished. The agency hosted six selections between 1959 and 1967, choosing 49 pilots and 17 scientist-astronauts. In addition, following cancellation of the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory program, seven more transferred into NASA, for a total of 73. Many left for greener pastures as it became clear that they faced a long standdown between Skylab and the Space Shuttle. But as the latter program began to make headway, officials started to nurture thoughts of a new group of selectees.

They would be chosen according to new criteria, for the country had changed since the heyday of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. In April 1959, when the seven Mercury astronauts had faced their first press conference, they stood forth as a group of hot test pilot who had distinguished themselves in the nation’s service. By the early 1970s plenty of people were ready to view them as pale, male, and stale. Public interest in spaceflight fell to low ebb, while concern for civil rights, defined very broadly, rose to flood tide.

NASA Administrator James Fletcher personally raised this topic in March 1972, less than two months after obtaining President Nixon’s endorsement of the shuttle. “We are working on plans to get members of minority groups into space,” he told a conference on EEO at Kennedy Space Center. “The Space Shuttle, which is a keystone to all our future space programs, will be an important factor in accomplishing this goal.” He nevertheless was not yet ready to make a commitment, adding, “These are only plans. We don’t know they’ll work out.” 

Fletcher took another step in September 1972 as his center directors held a retreat   in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He asked that “a plan be developed for our next selection of astronauts, with full consideration being given to minority groups and women.”

An early exercise sought to learn whether women had the right stuff. At NASA’s Ames Research Center twelve Air Force flight nurses took part in a five-week test program. Several of them received two weeks of complete bed rest, to simulate weightlessness, and then rode a centrifuge that subjected them to 3-g acceleration, reproducing the stress of a shuttle reentry. The women were allowed to decide for themselves how long they could tolerate the g-forces, and the times were as high as seven minutes, far more than necessary for a return from orbit. Researchers concluded that no inherent problems barred women from flying aboard the shuttle, and Hans Mark, the center director at the time, said that there was a very high probability that women would join the flight crews.

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #14 on: 09/27/2014 10:00 PM »
ASTRONAUTS WANTED

A strange paradox occurred in the summer of 1976. For nearly a year, no Americans had ventured into orbit; nor would they do so for at least four years. The space ambitions of the United States were by no means directionless, but its 30-strong astronaut corps faced a crisis: no missions were available in the foreseeable future, yet more astronauts were urgently required. By the time the shuttle entered operational service sometime in 1980, NASA optimistically hoped that missions would be launching as often as once every fortnight.

In other words, more crews would rocket into the heavens during its first couple of years than had previously ridden every American spacecraft since May 1961. A corps of less than three dozen could not support such an ambitious flight rate, obliging NASA, in a July 8, 1976 press release, to announce plans to recruit Space Shuttle astronauts:


“NASA issued a call today for Space Shuttle astronaut candidates. Applications will be accepted until June 30, 1977, and all applicants will be informed of selection by December 1977. At least 15 pilot candidates and 15 mission specialist candidates will be selected to report to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, on July 1, 1978, for two years of training and evaluation. Final selection as an astronaut will depend on satisfactory completion of the evaluation period

NASA is committed to an affirmative action program with a goal of having qualified minorities and women among the newly selected astronaut candidates. Therefore, minority and women candidates are encouraged to apply.

Pilot applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, physical science or mathematics or have completed all requirements for a degree by Dec. 31, 1977. An advanced degree or equivalent experience is desired. They must have at least 1,000 hours first pilot time, with 2,000 or more desirable. High performance jet aircraft and flight test experience is highly desirable. They must pass a NASA Class 1 space flight physical. Height between 64 and 76 inches is desired.

Applicants for Mission Specialist candidate positions are not required to be pilots. Educational qualifications are the same as for pilot applicants except that biological science degrees are included. Mission Specialist applicants must be able to pass a NASA Class 2 space flight physical. Height between 60 and 76 inches is desired.

Pay for civilian candidates will be based on the Federal Government's General Schedule pay scale from grades GS-7 through GS-15, with approximate salaries from $11,000 to $34,000 per year. Candidates will be compensated based on individual academic achievements and experience. Other benefits include vacation and sick leave and participation in the Federal Government retirement, group health and life insurance plans.

Civilian applicants may obtain a packet of application material from JSC. Requests should be mailed to either Astronaut (Mission Specialist) Candidate Program, or Astronaut (Pilot) Candidate Program, Code AHX, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas 77058.

Military personnel should apply through their respective military departments using procedures which will be disseminated later this year by DOD. Military candidates will be assigned to JSC but will remain in active military status for pay, benefits, leave and other military matters.

Currently, 31 persons are available as Space Shuttle crewmen, including nine scientists. Twenty-eight of them are astronauts assigned to the Johnson Space Center and three hold government positions in Washington, D.C.

The Space Shuttle is a reusable vehicle that will replace virtually all of this nation's space launch vehicles. Shuttle missions could include deploying and retrieving satellites, servicing satellites in orbit, operating laboratories for astronomy, Earth sciences, space processing and manufacturing, and developing and servicing a permanent space station. Launched like a rocket, the shuttle will perform Earth orbital missions of up to 30 days, then land like an airplane and be refurbished for another mission.

Pilot astronauts will control the shuttle during launch, orbital maneuvers and landings and be responsible for maintaining vehicle systems. Mission Specialist astronauts will be responsible for the coordination of overall orbiter operations in the areas of flight planning, consumables usage and other activities affecting payload operations. At the discretion of the payload sponsor, the Mission Specialist may assist in the management of payload operations, and may, in specific cases, serve as the Payload
Specialist. They will be able to continue in their chosen fields of research and to propose, develop and conduct experiments.

Crews could consist of as many as seven people – Commander, Pilot, Mission Specialist and up to four Payload Specialists, who need not be NASA employees and who will be nominated by the sponsors of the payload being flown. Payload Specialists will operate specific payload equipment where their special skills are needed. Potential users of the Space Shuttle include government agencies and private industries from the United States and abroad.”



So, besides looking for people flying the Space Shuttle, NASA sought generalists, explained The New York Times’ William J. Broad. “It wanted people with eclectic backgrounds, with the flexibility to pursue excellence outside their field. The job, after all, was to be a Mission Specialist, which could entail such diverse tasks as studying the effects of weightlessness on a salamander, repairing a broken computer, launching a payload into space or capturing a failed satellite.”

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #15 on: 09/27/2014 10:05 PM »
SCREENING PROCESS

According to space writer Ben Evans 8,370 applications were made by the closing date of June 30, 1977. Space biographer Michael Cassutt said that 659 pilots (147 military, 512 civilian) had applied, as had 5,680 hopeful mission specialists. Most military applicants had been screened and nominated by their parent service. Only about half of the applications actually met the stated criteria. Later that year, in groups of less than twenty, the 208 most promising candidates were summoned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for a week of interviews and medical tests. One of the first to arrive was a 36-year-old naval officer named Rick Hauck.

“I'd been interested in the space program the entire time that I was in the U.S. Navy, but I quite honestly thought that even if NASA did select more astronauts, I'd be a little long in the tooth to be able to join,” he recalled. “I was 33 years old when I finished my tour as a test pilot at Patuxent River in '74. But then, in 1977, NASA did announce that they were going to select a group of astronauts to augment the corps to fly the shuttle, and I saw that announcement when I was based onboard USS Enterprise. As a matter of fact, myself and three other members of that crew wound up being selected into the program: myself, John Creighton, Hoot Gibson and Dale Gardner were all onboard Enterprise at that time… Three of the fifteen pilots were from that air wing! Dale was a Mission Specialist, which is interesting. Twenty percent of the pilots came from that ship."

Rick Hauck and Dan Brandenstein were test pilot school classmates and squadron mates six years prior to their selection to the corps. Hauck said the two talked a lot back then about whether or not they would apply to the astronaut program.

“Part of the pre-interview process was the folks in Houston took each folder. Some of the people were rejected immediately. Some, they said, ‘Well, let’s find out more about this person.’ They made a lot of phone calls. ‘Hey, do you know Rick?’ or, ‘Do you know Dan? What do you think about him?’ So I got a call one day in my office at Whidbey Island, Washington, and it was John Young. And John, ‘I’m on the selection board for this astronaut program.’ He didn’t say anything about knowing that I was applying. He said, ‘Dan Brandenstein, he’s in your squadron there. What do you think about him?’ And I told him, I said, ‘I think he’s a great guy. He’d be a super astronaut.’ He said, ‘Okay, thank you very much.’ And I said, ‘Excuse me, but I’m applying also.’ He said, ‘I know. I know. Thank you very much.’

Two weeks after Hauck’s screening, a 26-year-old PhD physics student from Stanford University, named Sally Ride, arrived as part of another group of candidates. “It was a group I’d never met before,” she said, “and I didn’t meet any of the other 180 who were interviewed. The only ones I met were the ones in my little group of 20. We spent a week going from briefing to briefing, from dinner to medical evaluations, psychological exams and individual interviews with the astronaut selection committee.”

A month and a half later, two others – a 38-year-old U.S. Air Force test engineer named John Fabian and a 34-year-old physician and former enlisted U.S. Marine, Norm Thagard – came down to Houston for screening. Little did these four candidates (out of 149 finalists found to be medically qualified and still interested in participating) know at the time that, not only would they be chosen by NASA on January 16, 1978, as part of the agency’s eighth group of astronauts, but that they would fly together aboard Space Shuttle Challenger a little more than five years later.

For Ride, though, the media attention at becoming one of six female candidates was especially intense. “The impact started before I left for Houston,” she remembered years later. “There was a lot of attention surrounding the announcement, because not only was it the first astronaut selection in nearly ten years, it was the first time that women were part of the class. There was a lot of press attention surrounding all six of us. Stanford arranged a press conference for me on the day of the announcement. I was a PhD physics student. Press conferences were not a normal part of my day! A lot of newspaper and magazine articles were written, primarily about the women in the group, even before we arrived. The media attention settled down quite a bit once we got to Houston. There were still the occasional stories and we definitely found ourselves being sent on plenty of public appearances.”

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #16 on: 09/27/2014 10:14 PM »
THE CHOSEN

“On February 1, 1978, the first Space Shuttle-era astronauts, thirty-five in number, stood on the stage in the auditorium of Building 2 at Johnson Space Center to be formally introduced to the world. I was one of them,” Mike Mullane wrote later. “The actual press announcement had come two weeks earlier. Not that I expected to be picked. Far from it.”

“On Monday morning, January 16, 1978, while dressing for work, I turned on the TV. I wasn’t on it. But Sally Ride and five other women were. NASA had announced the newest group of astronauts, including the first women astronauts. There was video and newshounds jostling for positions in front of their homes. Vans with brightly colored TV call letters crowded the streets. Curious neighbors circled the houses. And these smiling, radiant, joyful young women answered questions shouted by the press, ’What’s it like to know you are one of the first women astronauts? When did you want to be an astronaut? Did you cry when you heard the news? Will you be scared when you ride the shuttle?’

“I went to my living room and drew back the curtain to see if there was a squadron of news vans parked in my driveway. Nope. No vans. No frothing press. No neighbors. Nothing. I was alone to dwell on my rejection. The winners were on TV. The losers were watching them. I drove to my Mt. Home AFB, Idaho, office to find my wife Donna had tried to reach me there. She had left a message, ‘Mr. Abbey at NASA called this morning and wants you to call him back.’

“I dialed the number and got Abbey’s secretary. After a moment of holding (more proof of rejection) he came on the line. ‘Mike, are you still interested in coming to JSC as an astronaut?’ There wasn’t enough spit in my mouth to wet a stamp, but somehow I managed to croak a reply, ‘Yes, sir. I would definitely be interested in coming to JSC.’

Interested?! What the hell was I saying?! I was interested in having Hugh Hefner’s job. I would kill to be an astronaut. Abbey continued, ‘Well, we’d like you to report here in July as a new astronaut candidate.’ I don’t recall anything else from that conversation. I was blind, deaf, and dumb with joy. NASA had selected Mike Mullane as an astronaut.”

Or rather, as an astronaut candidate. “Our group,” he explained, “became the first to have the suffix candidate added to our astronaut titles. Until the TFNG handle stuck, we would be known as Ascans. A later class would call themselves Ashos for astronaut hopefuls. NASA had learned the hard way that the title astronaut by itself had some significant cachet. In one of the Apollo-era astronaut groups, a disillusioned scientist had quit the program before ever flying into space and had written a book critical of the agency. Since his official title had been astronaut, his publisher had been able to legitimately promote the book with the impressive astronaut byline.”

“Now NASA was hedging its bets with our group. For two years we would be candidates on probation with the agency. If one decided to quit and go public with some grievance, NASA would be able to dismiss us as nothing more than a candidate, not a real astronaut. Personally, I felt the titling was an exercise in semantics. In my mind you weren’t an astronaut until you rode a rocket, regardless of what a NASA press release might say.”

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #17 on: 09/27/2014 10:44 PM »
RAINBOW COALITION

As NASA had intended, the diversity of America was represented by the 35 astronaut candidates, pointed out Mike Mullane, who at the time was a 32-year-old Air Force Captain. “There was a mother of three (Shannon Lucid), two astronauts of the Jewish faith (Jeff Hoffman and Judy Resnik), and one Buddhist (El Onizuka). There were Catholics and Protestants, atheists and fundamentalists. Truth be known, there were probably gay astronauts among us. The group included three African Americans, and six females. Every press camera was focused on this rainbow coalition, particularly the females. I could have mooned the press corps and I would not have been noticed. The white TNFG males were invisible.”

“Another first was the political diversity of the group. Military pilots, the mainstream of prior astronaut selections, were almost always politically conservative. They were highly educated, self-reliant, critical thinkers who scorned the ‘everybody is a victim’ ethos of liberalism. But the reign of the right ended with the large number of civilian astronauts. Among their ranks were people who had probably protested the Vietnam War, who thought Ted Kennedy’s likeness should be on Mount Rushmore, who had marched for gay rights, abortion rights, civil rights, and animal rights. For the first time in history, the astronaut title was bestowed on tree-huggers, dolphin-friendly fish eaters, vegetarians, and subscribers to The New York Times.”

“I felt a subtle hostility toward the civilian candidates,” confessed Mullane. “I know many of the military astronauts shared my feelings. In our minds the post-docs hadn’t paid their dues to be standing on that stage. We had. For us, it had been a life quest... I couldn’t see that passion in the eyes of the civilians. Instead, I had this image of Sally Ride and the other post-docs, just a few months earlier, bebopping through the student union building in a ‘Save-the-Whales’ T-shirt and accidently seeing the NASA astronaut selection announcement on the bulletin board and throwing in an application on a lark. Now they were here. It wasn’t right.”

Michael Cassutt said, “The 1978 group was, understandably, the largest and most diverse ever selected by NASA. There were six women, two physicians (Anna Fisher and Rhea Seddon), a biochemist (Shannon Lucid), a physicist (Sally Ride), a geophysicist (Kathy Sullivan), and an engineer (Judy Resnik). There were three African Americans (Guy Bluford, Fred Gregory and Ron McNair), and an Asian American (Ellison Onizuka). Also selected was the first Army officer (Maj. Robert Stewart). – What was also significant was the number of Vietnam veterans: twenty of the new Ascans had combat experience.”

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #18 on: 09/27/2014 10:46 PM »
Just a moment of silence…

”We each must face our dying pasts
For every day must die
And though we strive to make them last
The future is inevitable”


- Salem, “A Moment of Silence,” 1998


Colonel USAF Steven Ray Nagel (Oct. 27, 1946 – Aug. 21, 2014)

He was a household name in U.S./German cooperation in manned spaceflight.

MS3 – Discovery STS 51-G (1985)
PLT – Challenger STS 61-A/Spacelab D-1 (1985)
CDR – Atlantis STS-37 (1991)
CDR – Columbia STS-55/Spacelab D-2 (1993)

Farewell, Steve. Your memory lives on.

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Re: Challenger STS-7 – Sally’s Ride
« Reply #19 on: 09/27/2014 10:56 PM »
A LARGE INFUSION

By the middle of July 1978, the 35 candidates had effectively more than doubled NASA’s existing astronaut corps. However, unlike previous selections, the new arrivals were positively welcomed by the old hands from the Gemini and Apollo era. “They seemed to accept us pretty well,” said Ride. “We had them outnumbered, so I’m not sure they had a choice! It was clearly very different for them. They were used to a particular environment and culture. There were few scientists among them, but most were test pilots. Of course, the entire astronaut corps had been male, so they were not used to working with women. There had been no addition to the astronaut corps in nearly ten years, so even having a large infusion of new blood changed their working environment.”

“However, they knew this was coming and they’d known it for a couple of years. By the time we actually arrived, they’d adapted to the idea. We really didn’t have any issues with them at all. It was easy to tell, though, that the males in our group were really pretty comfortable with us, while the astronauts who’d been around for a while were not all as comfortable and didn’t quite know how to react. But they were just fine and didn’t give us a hard time at all.”

The selection committee, co-chaired by chief astronaut John Young, was looking specifically not only for academic and technical talent, but also for the ability of men and women to work effectively together. “And they succeeded,” added Ride. “It was a congenial class and we really didn’t have any issues at all within our group. They were very respectful and incorporated us as part of the group from the beginning. We all walked in as rookies; as neophytes in the astronaut corps.”

“None of us knew anything about what was going to happen to us and so, as you can imagine, we were a pretty close-knit group. None of the astronauts who applied did it for publicity. Everybody applied because this is what they wanted to do, so the males in the group didn’t really want to be spending their time with reporters – they wanted to be spending their time training and learning things. Frankly, the women would have preferred less attention.”


DESPERATELY NEEDED

The new astronauts were desperately needed, said Hauck, due to natural attrition from the corps since the end of the Apollo missions. Over a period of just a year, by mid-1977, four veteran pilots – Stu Roosa, Gene Cernan, Ron Evans and Gerry Carr – had retired from NASA to pursue other interests. The remainder, Hauck explained, “wanted to get us as smart about the shuttle’s systems as soon as they could. We got a year of training that involved, for virtually eight hours a day, lectures about the systems or observations from space or visiting one of the NASA centers. Then, eventually, we got ‘in’, so we were assigned on-the job training, assigned specifically to one of the old guys,” Hauck continued, “and I was assigned to Dick Truly. Everyone was very hospitable to us, bending over backwards to make us comfortable and telling us how much they needed us.”

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