Popular Science

The training accident that almost ruined my chance to be an astronaut

Excerpt: Chasing Space
Space Shuttle Atlantis Takes Off

Space shuttle Atlantis rises from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff on its STS-129 mission came at 2:28 p.m. EST Nov. 16. Aboard are crew members Commander Charles O. Hobaugh; Pilot Barry E. Wilmore; and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Robert L. Satcher Jr.

The following is excerpted from Chasing Space by Leland Melvin.

On my first day of spacewalk training in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, the future loomed in front of me as bright as the heavens I had hoped to reach. I wanted to master the fundamentals and, like all astronauts, I knew that spacewalk proficiency was the quickest path to that coveted first flight assignment.

The sooner I could fly, the more time I would have

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