“Rocket Girl”: from residence shuttle engineer to accommodate historian

Linda (Getch) Dawson ’71 grew up one day of the head of the residence trot between the US and the U.S.. She recalls utilizing with her household to an observatory to hear the beeping of the Soviet satellite tv for pc Sputnik because it passed overhead. “It’s comical how your route takes assorted turns, however I always came succor to that first fancy: aerospace,” she says. Dawson’s route took her from MIT to NASA, then valid into a 2d occupation as a trainer and a creator, earning her the nickname “Rocket Girl” from colleagues and journalists. 



Dawson says her “most thrilling job ever” in aerospace used to be working as an aerodynamic flight controller at NASA’s Johnson Home Center in Houston. It used to be the slack ’70s, and she used to be in the navigation and steering mission administration community accountable for guaranteeing that the residence shuttle safely reentered the ambiance. She ran “never-ending simulations with astronauts and pilots” to desire how noteworthy gas would be foremost for the main flight, accounting for primarily the most serious screw ups. She used to be on duty in mission administration one day of initiate and reentry, working yet more simulations to account for and redefine the shuttle’s flight principles as conditions changed. “Ought to you’re flying at supersonic and hypersonic speeds, the complete lot happens so fleet that you just don’t own the lush of looking thru a book to peep what you might maybe possibly aloof beget if one thing goes frightful,” she says. She left NASA smartly sooner than the Challenger and Columbia mess ups showed how unsafe human spaceflight is inclined to be—however would portion her standpoint on these tragedies years later in her first book. 

After NASA and a stint at Boeing Aerospace, Dawson spent more than 20 years as a senior lecturer at the College of Washington, Tacoma, the place she designed courses on girls folks in science and on the ancient past and science of residence exploration. But, she says, “I couldn’t win a reasonable [space] book that contented what I believed would possibly well possibly aloof be lined in a condensed kind—it both used to be too technical or it used to be a younger individuals’s book.” So Dawson made up our minds to put in writing her possess. The Politics and Perils of Home Exploration (Springer, 2017, with a 2d model out this year) and Battle in Home (Springer, 2018) expose the ancient past of the residence program and delve into the sophisticated original-day politics of residence exploration as assorted companies and worldwide locations compete for entry and sources. 

Retired from teaching, Dawson continues to put in writing and to lecture at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, the place she is a longtime volunteer. “At the museum there are complete new generations of younger individuals that also want to hold rocket courses and be taught about residence,” she says. “It’s thrilling to peep that.”

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