Like Rhea Seddon, woman astronaut Shannon Lucid has some not-so-fond memories of the water-torture training in Florida. "Their favorite trick, " she recalled, " was to ask you a question just before they cut you loose - so that you'd have your mouth wide open when you hit the water."
With Pointed Ears?
When Lucid was chosen for Shuttle astronaut-scientist training, her husband Michael had trouble explaining it all to their three small children. Finally came an inspiration. "Your mommy, " he said," might be like Mr. Spock in "Star Trek""
Yearning to Go
A bit heavier now, his hair a little thinner, his reflexes and eyesight a little less sharp, Neil Armstrong was only half joking when he said he's ready for another space flight. After all he said, "They take people with glasses now."
Returning from a trip to Antarctica some years ago, Wernher von Braun, Ernst Stuhlinger, and other space scientists proudly showed pictures of themselves merrily running around a marker in the snow at the exact geographic South Pole. Stuhlinger explained: "We were setting a space speed record - orbiting the Earth every ten seconds.
Lamenting the latest curtailment of NASA funds in a talk at a Southern Governors Conference, von Braun cracked:
"The budget cuts have been so severe that we bare even having to tighten the Van Allen radiation belt that surrounds Earth!"
And another observer of the multibillion-dollar space effort figured in this way: "If God wanted us to explore space He'd have given us money."
The thirty-five men and women selected in 1978 as future Shuttle astronauts may have been the largest single group ever chosen, and newly arrived on the space scene, but they were a proud bunch. They even came up with their own distinctive patch. It bore the legend "TFNG. " That was shorthand for Thirty-Five New Guys.