Diverse Shuttle Crew Is Poised to Put US Back in Space

By Kris Axtman writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Diverse Shuttle Crew Is Poised to Put US Back in Space


Kris Axtman writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


There's an Air Force test pilot, a triathlete, a Japanese engineer, a lead guitarist in a rock band, an Aussie named Andy, and a scientist from Queens who holds seven patents. And wrangling them all together is the commander they call "mom."

These are the astronauts of shuttle Discovery - America's "return to space" crew. Most of them have been working together on this mission for years, becoming one of the best-prepared shuttle crews in history. They've also had longer than most to bond.

That's because the majority of the group was one month away from liftoff when their ride to the International Space Station, the shuttle Columbia, disintegrated over east Texas Feb. 1, 2003. Since then, NASA has been studied from the inside out, its purpose questioned, and its mission restructured.

For the astronaut corps, the time has also been one of deep soul searching. They say the Columbia disaster has taught them a bit more about their fallibility and a lot more about their commitment to space exploration.

The accident "affected different people in different ways," says Discovery's commander, Eileen Collins. "For me, I rededicated myself to our mission. But I will always be mindful of actions that can have ultimate consequences."

While the mission will only be 12 days, the astronauts will have much to do. They will be delivering much-needed supplies to the space station, performing maneuvers never done before in space, and testing new safety measures for future flights. But most important, they will be heralding from the heavens America's return to space.

With all the varied tasks the astronauts do, it's natural to wonder what goes into the picking of a shuttle crew. NASA says it considers the mission goals and objectives, and then matches the astronauts' skills to the chores at hand.

For instance, if there will be a lot of external repairs, an astronaut who is adept at spacewalking will likely get chosen. Or if there are plans for heavy use of the robot arm, someone who is good at maneuvering the mechanism might be picked.

But there is much more to it than that, experts say. Politics, personality, and position also play a role in selecting a crew. In fact, during the Apollo missions, crew selection was as secret as "picking the next pope," says Alex Roland, a space historian at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

While the characteristics that make a good astronaut are constantly being refined, NASA has long understood some of the key traits: highly skilled and willing to constantly hone those skills, a strong leader and good follower, a risk-taker who knows his or her own limits, unflappable, patient, and easy to get along with.

Indeed, making sure they get along in a group is something the space agency is only just beginning to fully grasp.

It's not as important when picking a shuttle crew that may only be in space a week or two. But with US participation in the International Space Station and plans to return to the moon and then Mars, being cooped up in a tin can for months, even years, requires more attention to the psychological dimensions of space travel.

"The social and psychological character of astronauts is rarely, if ever, taken into consideration when putting together a shuttle crew," says Lawrence Palinkas, a professor in the department of family and preventative medicine at the University of California at San Diego and an adviser to NASA.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Diverse Shuttle Crew Is Poised to Put US Back in Space
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.