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04 Aug 2010
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Atlantis Astronauts Touch Down at Georgetown
The six NASA astronauts who flew the space shuttle Atlantis’ final mission landed at the McDonough School of Business July 26 to talk about the crew’s experience.

The astronauts are touring the country and the world to talk about the mission. Earlier in the day they met with President Obama.

“There’s something very tangible about getting into space and looking back on the planet that makes you realize the extreme privilege of the experience, and with that privilege comes a responsibility to share the experience,” Commander Ken Ham told a standing-room-only audience in a 410-seat auditorium at the school.

Stephanie Schierholz, a 2010 graduate of the Global Executive MBA program and NASA spokesperson, helped bring the crew to Georgetown.

Each crew member at the event took turns describing a different leg of the journey from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to the International Space Station.

Two business school associate professors in attendance also have a tie to NASA, which has funded their joint research.

“The event provided an opportunity for the Georgetown community and members of the public to meet with the shuttle crew and continues the school’s academic ties to NASA, which include research on risk assessment by our faculty members Cathy Tinsley and Robin Dillon-Merrill,” said business school dean George Daly.

Dillon-Merrill noted that there are only two more NASA shuttle missions left and that there will be no option for American human space flight in the future.

“For several years, we will be hitching rides with the Russians to visit the space station,” she said, “but the current NASA policy is to support commercial private ventures to do this. What that means and how it will be done is unknown, but it certainly will be a ‘business’ problem in the future.”

The other Atlantis astronauts are mission specialists Garrett Reisman, Piers Sellers, Steve Bowen and Michael Good and pilot Tony Antonelli.

Ham lived up to his name by entertaining the audience, particularly while introducing the crew.

He introduced Reisman an astronaut who specializes in bubbles. Reisman received his graduate degree at California Institute of Technology, where he studied “multiphase flows,” which he has said is a “fancy way of saying bubbles.”

Bowen, Ham noted, is unusual because he has experience as a submarine driver from the U.S. Navy.

“He happens to be the only submarine astronaut we ever had,” Ham explained, prompting laughter. “Someone at NASA decided, ‘Hey, we’ll find someone who likes to live in a tin can and eat canned food and he’ll make the perfect astronaut.’ ”

-- Deirdre Bannon

(July 27, 2010)
'There's something very tangible about getting into space and looking back on the planet that makes you realize the extreme privilege of the experience, and with that privilege comes a responsibility to share the experience.' -- NASA Commander Ken Ham

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