July 24, 2012

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Another Leaf On the Moon*

LPOD-Jul24-12.jpg
image from NASA

What a shock to learn that Sally Ride has died. The world will always remember her as a competent young person who was the first American woman in space. She used that fame not to make money but to inspire girls and to introduce them to science. I was at Johnson Space Center in the 1980s and was one of the thousands who helped train Sally for both of her flights into space. I worked in the Space Shuttle Earth Observations Office preparing training manuals for crews and briefing them both before and after their flights. Sally was very interested in Earth Obs and wanted more preparation than the standard briefings to the entire crew. So one Saturday morning before her first flight she and crew mate John Fabian came to my office and we spent an extra hour or so looking at the areas of the Earth they would fly over and talking about targets for observation. I also remember seeing her being interviewed before her flight and being asked if she thought she might weep from the excitement of the launch. She replied by asking why reporters didn't ask Rick Hauck, another crew mate, that question. Once when I was in Building 8, where the astronaut offices were, I walked behind Sally and Cathy Sullivan a few months before their mission. Both were in their blue flight suits walking briskly and proudly down the hall, their shoes clicking in unison - that was woman power that I would salute.

Chuck Wood

  • I collected stories about the night sky from my students when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. One story was that the Moon's dark splotches were due to leaves that fell from trees each time a person died on Earth. Sally's leaf is there now.

Related Links
Wonderful obituary in the New York Times.

Yesterday's LPOD: Measure And Learn

Tomorrow's LPOD: Mystical Minsk Miracle



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