The secret of health for both mind and body
is not to mourn for the past,
not to worry about the future,
not to anticipate troubles,
but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
The bus carrying NASA administrator Dan Goldin’s group of specially invited guests cautiously made its way back from the shuttle launch viewing area through a nighttime lightning storm. Like the weather, the mood at Cape Canaveral that evening in 1999 was somber; the launch of Eileen Collins, the first American woman spacecraft commander, had just been scrubbed for the second time. On this occasion, only five minutes had remained on the countdown clock. Then, with little warning, another nasa guest bus swerved around Goldin’s bus on the narrow road and sped ahead, as if determined to beat them back to the parking lot before the inevitable postlaunch-attempt traffic jam. As the driver roared by, he leaned out of the window and gleefully shouted back at Goldin’s vehicle, “This is Wally’s bus!”
Inside the passing bus, a white-haired woman named Wally Funk laughed with merriment. Her long-held dream of seeing a woman command an American space mission would have to be postponed another night or two, but nothing was going to get her spirits down. After all, it had been almost forty years since she had aspired to become one of America’s first women astronaut candidates. Another couple of days were not going to make a big difference.
When most space enthusiasts think about the early days of spaceflight and someone named Wally, Funk is not the first name that comes to mind.