shuttle2AN ASTRONAUT: It was winter when he landed at Colorado State University—many years ago now—a Civil Engineer alumni. His title: Kent V. Rominger, Captain USN (now retired) & NASA Astronaut (former). In those days, to have a few NOT public moments with an astronaut was rare. I served as Kent’s—he insisted—usher during his campus visit. I asked: “So Kent, which is more thrilling for you: flying a jet off the deck of an aircraft carrier or piloting the NASA Columbia Shuttle?

Astronaut Rominger’s answer—as I mentioned—is NOT public. So, why bring this up at all? Because in many ways we emulate astronauts in that we must also calibrate and investigate our parameters in order to have the best chance of survival: they in outer space and we in Earth’s atmosphere.

A THOUGHT: Yes, there are those among us, like Rominger, who achieve great zeniths in an attempt to understand the unanswerable. And, we who never leave the gravitational pull of Earth also endeavor to understand. And also like the astronauts if we calculate wrongly there are consequences.

[Kent Rominger: Flew as pilot on STS-73 (1995), STS-80 (1996) and STS-85 (1997) and was crew commander on STS-96 (1999) and STS-100 (2001). A veteran of five space flights, Rominger logged over 1,600 hours in space. He also logged over 7,000 flying hours in over 35 types of aircraft and 685 carrier landings.]