tv Women and the Apollo Program CSPAN October 14, 2019 3:05pm-4:01pm EDT
broadband, reclassified internet broadcast rather than a telecommunications service and also said another part of the communications act, section 706, does not provide authority for regulation, it washed its hands, abdicated its authority, ability to oversee the broadband market. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. next on "american history tv," three women reflect on their experiences working on the "apollo" space program sharing how they overcame challenges in their roles with nasa. this program was hosted by the national air and space museum. >> you know, we feel strongly with the right inspiration and support, one of our visitors could go on to change the world. in fact, we like to think the first person to step foot on mars will, indeed, have stepped
through our doors first and maybe she will come back here to give a lecture of her own someday. before spro deuintroducing our i'm really excited to let you know we have a special guest who was able to join us at the last moment. her name is marion lee johnson. she was one of the space program's hidden figures. ms. johnson was an engineer at nasa's marshall space flight center in huntsville, alabama, working for boeing, the sponsor for tonight's event. she worked on the team that determined the path, the parts of the thsaturn 5, would take, the rocket fell back to earth. their work was vital for safety planning. after boeing and successful career in computer technology she now teaches the next generation of computer workers. please join me in recognizing and welcoming ms. marion lee johnson.
[ applause ] like ms. johnson, tonight's speakers certainly know what it's like to blaze trails and defy expectations. throughout this year's 50th anniversary celebrations of the "apollo 11" mission i've been moved by the stories that have finally shined a spotlight on the inspiring women who helped make our exploration of space possible. we're lucky to have three of them here with us on the panel tonight. aerospace engineer joann morgan. engineer poppy northcutt and researcher dr. carolyn huntoon. each of our speakers tonight will tell us a bit about her journey then we'll have time for audience questions afterwards. joann, i'm going to start with you. joann worked in launch control at kennedy space center and was the only woman in the firing room during the launch of "apollo 11."
your face has become incredibly familiar this year, which i absolutely love. she was also the first woman senior executive at kennedy space center and her tireless advocacy for women in science and engineering spans nearly five decades. joann, welcome. >> oh, thank you. [ applause ] well, first, i want to thank you, dr. stofan, and dr. neil valerie, historian, and boeing for sponsoring something like this. i mean, this is so unexpected in my life. 50 years after i did something, all of a sudden, it's important. and actually, i knew at the time on "apollo 11" i was working on something incredibly important. i -- i was a kid in titusville, florida, and i was lucky enough to see "explorer 1," our country's first satellite launch
and the satellite, itself, sponsored by jpl, discovered the vanallen radiation belt. at 17 in my mind i thought this is profound new knowledge for everybody on our planet. this whole launching business and going to space and putting satellites up there, it's going to change the world i live in and i am getting in on it. and i applied for a job as an engineer's aide right out of high school and been accepted at the university of florida and i was a wee bit of a math whiz in high school so i got the job. thank goodness the ad said, "student" and they hired one boy and me. if it said "boy," i wouldn't have even applied. but i hit the gold standard in supervision. i had a wonderful immediately that first summer supervisor who told everybody, no, this is not a coffee girl. she's going to be an engineer
someday. we're giving her engineering job. i was lucky i had a great supervisor to start me down the path of my career. but we're celebrating "apollo 11" and i wanted to tell you a few facts about women in 1969. you know, 400,000 people across this great country worked on the " "apollo 11" mission to make it happen. there were no -- there was no infrastructure in space. no satellites. everything is on the ground, and you know what that meant if you're old enough. tons and tons and tons of paper. keypunch cards, paper tape, procedures, everything written. we had to write everything by hand. we had to do calculations by hand. women were there, kennedy space center, of those 400,000 people, we had 24,000 people that year, 1969, 500 of the nasa team which were about 10% or 2,000 of the
20 some thousand, only 20 of those women were technical. i knew each one of them. although each of us were separate in different rooms. i was in launch control. judy kerzy was a guidance engineer. she was over in a computer room looking at a guidance computer. judy shannonburger was over there helping buzz aldrin when he suited up and her friend, ann montgomery, you know, we were sprinkled around just one here and there. and, yet, somehow or another, we were part of a team. and that "apollo 11" was just such a great, great team and so unified and i think one of the most inspiring things to me, in watching, every time i see it again, the landing, itself, i think of not only were we in this country unified, but people
all around our planet cared. they were watching. i remember watching the landing with my husband because i had a holiday and i was over on the gulf of mexico with him, and we saw the news, walter cronkite saying, and here's people in japan and australia and around -- and all around the world, people caring so much. i thought it was wonderful. and actually, that launch launched my career. it was my first launch to be in. i mean, i'd been there working on propellant loads and other activities but they didn't let me sit there at liftoff. there was always a man at that console. my boss went to bat and got permission for me to sit there. and all of a sudden, it made a difference. i got seen by everybody and my boss said, well, she's been working here for ten years, isn't it about time? so it's a little bit about my story, anyway. it's great to be here with you.
>> thank you very much, joann. [ applause ] poppy northcutt began her career in aerospiace as a human computr but quickly promoted to engineer working in mission control in johnson space center on the rush retu return to earth trajectory. her presence in mission control placed her in the public eye making her an inspiration to young boys and girls around the world. poppy? >> thank you. [ applause ] unlike joann, i did not have this big plan to be in the space program. i graduated from the university of texas with a degree in mathematics and went to look for a job. i'm from houston, and i found a job as a computerist.
that really was the job title. a computerist at trw systems which was a contractor for nasa. i never worked for nasa proper. i worked for a contractor. actually most of the people who worked on the space program worked for contractors. boeing was a contractor. many -- many contractors were out there. and i thought a gendered computer? what is this? i had never heard such a title before in my life. i -- since then i found a lot of history about it. many of you will have seen "hidden figures" and learned that those women were called computerists as well, then actually the job title goes further back in that into world war ii when women were used as cipherbreakers. they, too, were called computers or computerists.
i was very fortunate. i worked my butt off, okay? i got promoted and became a member of the technical staff which was our word for being an engineer. by chance, i ended up being the first woman in operational support role in mission control. during the flight of "apollo 8." what i worked on was the development of the return to earth capability. that's the trajectory, calculating the trajectory to bring the spacecraft back to the earth from the moon. and i'm very specialized. lunar operations was what i worked on. not bringing them back from earth orbit, lunar. okay? we were not expected to be in the control center, but they accelerated the schedule on "apollo 8" and we were a
mission-critical function for obvious reasons. if you are going to the moon, you do want to come back. but they accelerated the schedule and that meant that we were on sort of crash status to get our program into the realtime computer complex, get people up and aware. it was a complex program for the time, and there were -- the computers, we didn't calculate this stuff by hand. okay? maybe they did at launch control, but we did not. if you're going to the moon, you do not calculate it by hand. okay? or coming back. you might miss the earth if you try to do that. not a good plan. so, but the coming back to the earth from the moon is so different from coming back from earth orbit that the officers, the people in the control
center, were not experienced at using the program and so we were asked -- the people that deve p developed this program -- to go over and sit in the control sent tore help on that. so i was privileged to be over there for "apollo 8." that was my first, and to me, the most exciting mission because it was new. "10," "11," "12," and, yes, "13." my work was used in every one of the "apollo" missions. it was a very interesting time and a very exciting time. and i'm so happy to see all of these young women in the room. because people think that we are inspirations, i'm inspired by you and i hope you will not be hidden figures. i hope you will be out and about and screaming your name to encourage other women to go into this exciting area. >> thank you, "poppy."
[ applause ] dr. carolyn huntoon worked at the johnson space center leading the study of how the human body adapts to spaceflight. in 199 4 she became the first woman to serve as director as johnson space center. carolyn? >> thank you. [ applause ] thank you, ellen. and thank boeing for their support of this lecture series and, of course, to pay tribute to john glenn, series named after, he was a hero for all of us, and it's nice to be at the john glenn lecture. the -- i went to the johnson space center, i went as a national research counsel -- research associate, and the
experiment that i proposed and was accepted was to study the changes in the electrolyte metabolism hormonal controls in spaceflight crews. okay, you got an experiment, yaw con go do it. well, that was just -- accepting it was just the beginning. getting the crews to participate and the people to get the involvement that we needed from the trainers as well as the -- all the medical people and all, that was a big chore to do, but we did it. i had studied at baylor college of medicine with researchers who had worked on the "gemini" program and that was the first time that we had done actual measurements on astronauts from space. we brought back urine and blood samples and food samples and
fecal samples anded idea was to study very, in great depth, that crew of the "gemini" that's because we wanted to make sure we could send the "apollo" crew members to the moon and back without any problems. we worked on that for "gemini" and we did a great job. i got very interested in it. so when i had the opportunity to go down to nasa to continue these studies with "apollo," of course, i jumped at the chance to do that. it was a small medical group. tremendous people. we worked long hours and hard hours. i was the only woman in the group except for a couple of technical types. and we also had, as would happen, we had a nice support from the center management as well as all of nasa. not necessarily the great support from the astronaut office because they didn't
necessarily want medical people working on them, but it worked out. we had the opportunity at that time to do some most unusual studies. the job i had did not exist anywhere else in the world. not even in russia. no one was doing what i was doing at the time. and so it was -- so i sort of had to find my own way with that, but i had tremendous support from many great mentors. and i'd like to play homage to those guys because they treated me with respect as well as encourage my work and supported the work that i was doing. that i think is a very important aspect of anyone's job. and identi've tried to do that pass that on to people as i grew up in the management system at nasa. the other thing that i would mention is we did a lot of things the nasa way or the
"apollo way "apollo" way and people could talk about, that's not the way they did it during "apollo," that's what they should have done for "apollo," wa hahat hav you. i came to washington many years later. i'd be in meetings. people brought up how they did things during "apollo." i was thinking, you weren't there, how did you know? but it became a reputation, and you all know that for sure, but the things that i would mention that have stuck with me was the team building we did with "apollo" and i did that with my work all the way through the years that i worked at nasa. that is not just the people there at the johnson space center, but also the people that, from academia, we brought in export porperts from all ove world to help us on issues that we had. we also brought in people from industry, helped us a great deal. in building, creating, technical things that we needed for the spacecraft to do our medical
experiments and our medical work. so team building, i think, was a very important aspect of the "apollo" way of doing things. we also followed setting very high goals. we set -- we decided we were going to go to the moon and we did. we decided we were going to learn as much as we could about humans in a weightless environment, and we did. we set high goals. we also, i want to mention that we contracted to carry out things that we did not know how to do. we worked with many people around the country to learn to do things. it was not an easy task. some of the things that we had. but we got help and we weren't afraid to ask for help. we weren't afraid to ask after we got the help. we weren't afraid to have things reviewed. and we weren't afraid to be criticized. and i think that is part of the way that we learned to do business. the other thing i would mention
is that we were -- we had a way of doing things of looking at the way work was done. we called it configuration control. once things got locked in, the way to do things at nasa, way to do things with "apollo," we kept them under our control, configuration control and things did not get changed unless you adjust the change to a high-level committee. this held me in good stead for the rest of my career because i learned about getting it right and keeping it right and keeping it under control. and not making a lot of changes. i mentioned that we had several other women in the medical group when i got there, there were only a few engineers at the time at the center, women engineers, and we all eventually crossed paths and became friends. i think the big issue about having so few women at the time
is that they did not know they could come to work there. they did not know they -- and as soon as nasa decided to advertise and bring women in and bring women in on research associates and college students and all, then women took bigger role and, of course, years later we decided to select and train women astronauts and that really opened the doors for women to come to work there. so that also was very helpful. thank you. >> thank you, carolyn. [ applause ] i'm going to stand so i can see you all better. so i'm going to ask a few questions but we're actually going to leave a ton of time for both people here and in the planetarium to ask questions. so, please be thinking of questions that you would like to ask these amazing questions. just to start out, "poppy," you talked about working on the
"apollo 8" return to earth and obviously this is kind of a silly question because no one had ever returned to earth from the moon before. so, but what was the most challenging part of it? is the answer everything because no one had ever done it before? but i'm curious how you even start, i mean, in that -- >> well, you start early is one thing. you start early and you work really hard. >> but you didn't have much time because that whole decision was made in august, right? to switch "apollo 8." i mean, you'd been working on it. >> we had been working. we had been developing the return to earth program for several years. but to just give you an example of how sort of how far you have to go, when we started working on developing the return to earth program, well, what people may not understand, they always landed in the middle of the pacific ocean. right? if you remember that far. that's because the miss distance
when we started was bigger than the atlantic ocean. now, by the time they were flying, they were landing almost in the ship. right? but, you know, what we were doing was we were perfecting the solution to the three-body problem which is not a clo closed-form solution. the big challenge is you have to do a lot of optmy decision becau optimization. you have to meet the re-entry or you burn up. have to minimize fuel and minimize time. it's just a tremendous amount of working on computers and improving your targeting and always trying to get better. the last two months were just crash, okay, as we try to find every bug because you can't have bugs when you're flying to the moon. it's too critical.
we just had -- india just had a lunar mission, and, you know, i'm still hoping that they're going to be in contact with their lander. but, you know, the tiniest little area is magnified tremendously when you're talking about distances, especially distances to the moon. so, it's super important that quality control is just everything. >> karne we can we -- >> go ahead. >> i just wanted to follow up on that. the folks at houston in mission control, we had 23 critical events to go to the moon and return safely. for the launch team, only five are what we had to worry about. we practiced all five. we practiced them on the "apollo 8" and "9" and "10."
marshall, where ms. johnson was, practiced engine testing. we rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed, for five years. they didn't get to practice liftoff off the moon. they didn't get to practice landing on the moon. they had to do it perfectly the first time. and that's the miracle of "apollo 11." >> no, that's a good point. joann, i'm also really curious, you said that being in the firing room changed -- when your boss advocated for you to go in and you were actually in there that it changed how people treated you. but i'm curious, did it change how you felt about yourself and your role and -- or was it just purely how people treated you changed? but i'm wondering if you changed also. knowing that you were there. >> possibly, i did. you know, i had the height of an alligator and the tenacity of a p pitbulldo dog.
i hadn't let go for ten years. they were sort of stuck with me. but i felt more accepted and more confident in myself that i really was accepted because dr. dr. warren van braun was sitting in the top row, the chief engineer, all these important people and i was good enough to be in the room with them and so that built a lot of confidence in me, so after that, i was sort of unstoppable. not only had that tough hide and that tenacity, but i got to be a little bossy, too. >> carolyn, you know, obviously what we learned over the years about the effects of microgravity on the human body has been enormous. aisle curio i'm curious from your perspective, the research you did, were involved in, what's been some of the most interesting things that you think we've learned from sending humans as a physical, you know, effect of spaceflight?
>> woeell, yes, you're right. we've done quite a bit of work. the work began back in the '50s, if, you may recall, that's when they decided we wouldn't be able to send people into space because it would be too hard on them and they wouldn't survive the space, and so the research started then and some of the early flights with mammals were followed that before our "mercu "mercury" crews went, so each step of the way we built on what we understood and what our fear was with spaceflight for the crew members. by the time we got to the "apollo" program we were pretty sure we weren't going to have any big problems that we weren't not aware of. there were some things that came up. we worked on them. it was really interesting, one of the missions had an actual fluid and electrolyte problem which was my specialty, so i got to go into the big meetings and talk about what would happen if
we did not get that under control. so that was -- that was an anomaly, but the thing that i'm most proud of, i guess, was the team that we built that did the work to take the crews from healthy on the ground, get them in space, keep them healthy during the spaceflight, and bring them home. we were able to start collecting in-flight data and then, of course, space lab and space shuttle missions, we flew more experiments and we learned more about various enzymes and hormones and how they worked in the body in weightlessness. >> it's fascinating stuff. and it's one of the things as we renovate our moving beyond earth gallery which is where we talk about human spaceflight, we're going to really emphasize some of the work that's been done especially on the international space station over the years but we've -- it's really this huge body of accumulated knowledge. question for all of you, and then we're going to go to the audience.
you know, in a sense, i would be shocked if you all hadn't encountered obstacles along the way. a man telling you, you're a woman, you can't do that. i'm and curious, did all of you have some incident like that? and i certainly did, and i'm sure -- i'd like to say that some of the young women in this audience are never going to encounter it, but i doubt it. so i'm curious how you handled it and be thinking about the young girls in the audience when you answer. to give them some -- >> you want me to go first? >> sure. go ahead. now that we know you have the skin of a crocodile. >> alligator. >> alligator. >> first of all, i'm going to say, carolyn mentioned those primates. i knew the two monkeys. they were in a quanzi hangar
where i worked when i was a college student. >> they were friends. >> never had a chance to tell you, i knew those two monkeys. i had something happen to me the first -- it was on the "apollo 1" mission. i was working at the blockhouse. the first time i went in, my director, carl sindler, had said, go and run this test, and i had my procedure which i had developed and i went in to run the test in the blockhouse, complex 34 where "apollo 1" was and plugged in my headset and the test supervisor came down and literally whacked me on the back. whack. i mean, it hurt. and he said, we don't have women in here. i thought, uh-oh. i've got this german telling me go run this test. i got this guy who i think is ex-navy hitting me on the back. what, so i called quickly and i said to my director, i said, so-and-so, the name, and i said,
he said they don't have women in here. he said, plug in your headset, go to work, i want the test results by 4:30. so i used my chain of command and they responded. i'm sure phone call after phone call after phone call happen, but nobody made me get out. i mean, i went to work. i did my job. and i -- later, "apollo 11," i'm sitting at my console and the tradition for "apollo 8," "9," "10," i wasn't there during liftoff, the test supervisor, same man who whacked me on the back, would hand out cigars to workers. "apollo 11" after launch, he came down and gave me a cigar. i thought, this is pretty ironic. you know, that was one of the confidence boosters for me. but, i mean, i always liken these incidents that happen to me, everything from obscene
phone calls to men following me in the stairwell to watch my legs and my rear end, whatever they like to do behind you, i thought that is like mosquitos. we had a lot of mosquitos in florida. and, you know, you just swat them and you're done with it. you know, you may kill them, but it's mosquitos. >> all right. how about you, "poppy"? >> well, i never had anyone say you couldn't do it except the society as a whole said you couldn't do it. okay? so why did i -- you know, why do you need individual people to tell you that when the society as a whole tells you you can't? i guess i didn't really appropriately get the message, okay? because i came in as a computerist. i worked there for, you know, i was doing people's -- crunching numbers for these engineers and about two, three, months in, i
just looked around the room and i thought, i'm the smartest of these guys, okay? but they're making a lot more money than me. and i decided that i was going to become a member of the technical staff, an engineer is what they called them. some of them had physics degrees. some had engineering. but we were all functioning as engineers. and i just took stuff home and reverse engineered it and i didn't pay attention to the laws. okay? i disobeyed the laws. the laws were that women at that time were not, if they were hourly workers, and i was, were not supposed to work for an employer for more than nine hours a day or 54 hours a week. i viewed that as really the law as you weren't going to get paid by an employer. your employer couldn't require you to do this. i paid no attention at all to that. my supervisor would tell me,
poppy, time to go home, at 6:00. but i recognized that in order to be accepted as a member of the team, in order to be thought of as the equal of these guys, i was going to have to work the same way these guys were, whether i got paid or not. and so, you know, i just persisted in that, and i think that because of that, i became accepted as a member of the team. and that was really key that i was not thought of as different. although once i was in the control center, that was a whole different experience. okay? because i'm sitting there in "apollo 11" sometimes listening to the chatter because we would hear three, four, five, channels at once. and i kept hearing a particular channel being mentioned, someone saying, hey, have you seen what's on channel whatever? and i'd hear this off and on. and i finally thought, i wonder what's on that channel.
and i tuned it in and it was me. there was a camera -- there were cameras all over the place, but there was this -- they're supposed to be on the room as a whole. this camera was just on me. i have no idea how long it had been on me. i didn't say anything about it. we didn't even know the term, sexual harassment or, you know, hostile workforce. there's two different ways to think about that. one is that, you know, it's a little voir i little voyeuristic the on the part of the dudes watching you and harassing and uncomfortable. the other way to think about it is let them look, let them all know, let everybody who's not in this damn room know there is a wo woman here, i'm here, get used to it. [ applause ] >> carolyn, how about you? >> i think i was pretty fortunate that there was the
timing that i went to the johnson space center which was then the manned spacecraft center. i was very fortunate that there was so much work to be done that if you were willing to work and not complain and stay late and go on trips and come in late and bring in samples and all that stuff, if you're willing to do that, they let you do it. they would have loved to have had ten more like me i guess. so from that viewpoint, the job was not difficult in that sense. personally, i had people say unpleasant things to me, like, i'd like to get him promoted because he deserves it, not because he's a woman, you know, those kinds of things. but as i may have mentioned earlier, or should have mentioned, is that i outlasteds. they retired. they died. they went to work somewhere else. i stayed. >> awesome.
all right. i'd like to open it up to the audience for questions. over here. >> hi. i'm erica. so are both nasa and boeing both have really strong s.t.e.m. education for all students of all grade levels. i was wondering if you guys had that in your schooling growing up. >> so the question is, because we are videotaping this also, i'll repeat the questions. the question is that boeing and the smithsonian really focus a lot on s.t.e. m. education, s.t.e.m. education programs for girls and so the question was whether any kind of programs like that for you? for any of you? >> you want me to go first? >> sure. of course. >> no, there were zip, zero, programs when i was an elementary, junior high, high school. however, i had great teachers. my math teacher, second year
algebra, who was also the basketball coach, saw me do all my homework in class while he's teaching that chapter. he looked at that, i never knew whether it made him mad or he just thought i need to give this girl more work. so he would go over five chapters. if we were on chapter three, go over, say, joann, your homework is all the problems with chapter eight. so i was thinking i'm getting ahead doing my homework so i don't have to do it on the school bus riding to mims, florida, i had all this other homework then i had to do. teachers like that, my ebiology teacher who let me and my sister dissect an armadillo instead of a cat or dog. so he went out and got an armadillo.
they're all out in the orange groves and everything. sadly for us, when we dissected it, it had seven perfectly formed babies. we were in lab crying because we were murderouses. for us, for me, the teachers were -- and our parents -- my dad gave me a chemistry fifth in fourth grade. it was the favoritest toy i ever had in my life. i blew up the concrete on our patio. and my mom and dad didn't fuss. they said, how did you do that? you know, between wonderful parents and great teachers, you know, we didn't have a special program, so, you know, and i think probably all three of us might have been lucky in that because we were a generation that we had wonderful quality teachers. >> "poppy," was it teachers for you that sort of mentored you and encouraged you? >> no, i really don't think that i had any mentors, in fact, i mean, the whole expectation for women that i recall we were expected if you went to college, you were expected to either be a teacher, a nurse, or an
executive secretary. and even after my -- the company i worked for featured me in their national advertising around "apollo 8," you know, trw's "poppy" northcutt keeps bringing astronauts home, but my father's remark after that was that he was really, really, proud of me. the only thing that could make me more proud was if he saw my engagement announced in the local newspaper. so i was a self-motivator. >> what about you, carolyn? >> i'm -- that same group as joann, i had some tremendous teachers and a small high school in louisiana, and i went to a small college, but in both those places, i had teachers who liked what they were teaching and they taught us the same way and i had a very supportive family. i'm the youngest of six children
and so each one of them thought they had to tell me how to -- what i was going to do in life and what i could do and couldn't do. but it -- it worked out very well. i had a lot of support. >> okay. more questions. back there. yes. >> panelists, at the time, challenging for each of your specialties, looking today with the technology, how it's progressed, are things that you look back and say, boy, i wish i had this or whether it's computers or something, big advance, you can recall you didn't have this, the best things we could work with that we had at the time, but looking now, if we had an iphone or had something like a computer that was that advanced, whatever you were working on in regards to the data you were trying to get or the job you were working on. >> so the question is, with all the changes in technology from 1969 to -- the 1960s to today, what technologies do we have today that would have really
made your lives and your careers much, much easier? carolyn, why don't we start with you? >> well, obviously, with the medical science and research we were doing, so many of the sensors and the computer -- the computer technology and all from -- we could have used it a lot in spacecraft as we were getting -- making sure it was safe for the crew to be there. the other thing is medical testing. today we know how to determine down to the chromosome and gene level of things that back then we were very proud that we got a drop of blood to do a sugar on or something. so technology has advanced, and it has advanced in the -- they're doing more in the international space station than we ever did, you know, 50 years ago. >> "poppy"? >> the miniaturization of computers i think is just an incredible advance. it would have made a lot of
difference. onboard the spacecraft, something that you may not appreciate, yes, they had an onboard computer, but that onboard computer did not have as much computing power as you have in an ordinary greeting card where you say, hi, mom, hope you have a -- okay? so they were basically -- had such limited computer power onboard, that, you know, now they have tremendous computer power. >> my favorite example of that is your keyfob for your car has more computing power than the "voyager" spacecraft which has now left the solar system. joann, how about you? >> well, what i see is today we have such rich space-based technology. compared to 50 years ago, we had to do our own weather prediction. we had to create coils to measure lightning. i mean, the complexity of doing
groundwork when you're having to build new devices to measure environment around you or a valve position in the propellant line or vibrations, which we needed to understand what the first firing of those engines, so now so much is observation from space, communication, data transfer, weather, navigation, and all of that was having to be done with this massive amounts of paper. so, you know, the computers were tools but having it in space where we're not having to duplicate it all on the ground, you know, that was -- that was what took 400,000 people was a lot of the stuff had to be down on the ground. now we don't have to do that. that's why going beyond the moon is such a feasible thing. we have infrastructure. we have a weather satellite around mars. you know, we, i mean, there's things we can do now because of
space-based technologies. >> let's take one more question from in here then we'll see if we have a question in the planetarium. and i absolutely have to take our question from our young astronaut here in the front. >> i'm neil and i'm 10 and i want to be an astronaut and go to mars. can you give me some advice for girls who maybe want to be astronauts or aerospace engineers? >> yeah, and after the show you have to meet a woman named serena who's two rows behind you, might give you some advice. she wants to be an astronaut. what advice can you give her? she's 10 years old. >> well, i'll take that question. >> i think that's a question for carolyn. >> i think i would recommend that you study very hard in school and you participate in sports, whatever your choice is, but learn to be on teams with people. or when you get to high school and college, get a good degree, a broad degree, but specialize in something that you are really
excited about. whether it's medicine, engineering, or mathematics or what yhave you. do something that really excites you so when you apply to be an astronaut that comes through in your application. that comes through in your interview, that you're doing something that you want to do. you have to study hard. have to make good grades. >> that's right. grades. >> that's right. do we have a question from the planetarium? >> yes, we do. hello. thank you for your service. and i noticed in all the language you use so many scientific jargon, but i also heard you say bring them home, and that's not scientific. is the concept of bringing our astronauts home, is that how everybody in mission control looked at this or is that something unique to you and your
point of view? >> poppy? >> i don't know whether everyone in there thought about that. certainly that was a major concern. but, you know, i worked on a program that was return to earth. every day, every thought was bring them home. and to me, you know, people applaud at the landing and there's all this celebration when they land on the moon, to me the time you celebrate was when they splashed down. because no matter how successful everything else is, it's not a success unless you get them home. so that was always top of mind to me. >> let's take one last question from in here. over here. >> do you have some behind the scenes stories for us for the different apollo missions, 11 or 13? >> can we get a quick story from each one of you?
some kind of behind the scenes thing that meant something to each of you. carolyn, go ahead. >> apollo 13 was a particular frightening mission for all of us that were working at the center at the time. but we did our jobs just one after the other. anything we were asked to do, you did no matter how long it took or whatever because we had to get the guys around the moon and back home. but one of my remembrances of apollo 13 that i'll quickly tell you about, i was the center director when it was filmed "apollo 13" and i got to meet the guys who were playing the astronauts in the movie and they did all the filming in the movie in the aircraft there at the center so we saw quite a bit of them. and it was a nice to see them and nice to see how they wanted to get it right.
>> poppy? >> i saw the launch for apollo 13. i had about two days after launch where i'm not working. so i paid my own way, i hadn't seen a launch before and i really wanted to see one. i paid my way to florida. and when i arrived, i wasn't sure if they were going to do a launch or not because there was -- one of the astronauts had been exposed to measles. so the mission was being held, it was on hold. and nobody knew are they going to go or not go. what's going to happen? they substituted for that astronaut and it was delayed. i get on a plane. i come back home. i think i'm going to get to relax and -- so i'm just
puttering around the house. i'm not paying that much attention to what's going on and i get a phone call from a journalist and the journalist is the one who tells me there's been this explosion. and he wants to know are they going to have to fly around the moon or can they turn around and come back? so i just ask him how far out they were and i was able to answer his question. and i hung up the phone and i thought, that's weird. you would think that somebody would have called me besides a journalist. i decided i should go into work. so i put on my clothes, i go over there and the people that are at my consul, they're just really happy to see me because they said they didn't know how to reach me. and i go over to the console and
there's a glass top on it, and i point, there's a large sign sitting there that sayings my name and my phone number. i guess they were a little distracted. >> joanne? >> well, my behind the scenes tale is one of john young and i had lunch with linden johnson's wife, the first lady of our land. she was on a tour and she brought her daughter down to kennedy space center and john had just come back from his loop around the moon on apollo 10, i think it was. and he had -- he didn't want to do photography, but they gave him this fancy, specially modified camera and he had to make pictures of the moon. they didn't land, but he went around and made these pictures
and he was a nervous wreck about having lunch with lady bird johnson. so he sat on the end of the table and he was here and lady bird was next to me and i think it was walt cunningham was on the other side of the first lady and the white house protocol officer had come down and given us a little briefing and he said, joanne, you're from alabama. the first lady is from alabama, so i think you'll all will be able to understand each other. i never really knew quite what that meant. and he said, but she's not technical. and so walt and john, here are these two astronauts, she's not technical, don't say anything technical. so we started with our lunch and i thought, man, nobody is saying anything. we're just sitting here. and so i asked a question or two
and then she leaned over and she said you work here? and i said, oh, yes, i do. i work in launch control. but john young just came back from looping around the moon. and she said i love photography. i make all of our christmas photographs. i hate having a white house photographer. i want to do it. and john young and lady bird johnson talking about photography. i was very proud of myself for my diplomacy but i was also glad the first lady got to have a sincere interaction with an astronaut which is why we were all eating lunch together. >> that's wonderful. you've given us so much to think about. this is hard. if we could, i would keep doing this for another few hours. and i'm sure many people have a lot of questions and reflections based on these three incredibly amazing women. so thank you so much for sharing your stories with us tonight. we hugely appreciate it and thank you for joining us tonight.
[ applause ] [ applause ] >> i'd like to thank boeing once again for making this possible. our celebration continues next month with another great panel discussion. our fall aviation lecture will be about the uss hornet and we hope to see you there. we also -- i think -- oh, we will have no star gazing tonight. the clouds have been rolling in,
>> announcer: on may 11, 1943, about 12,500 u.s. soldiers landed on attu island, alaska, in an effort to force out a japanese army that had occupied the area for almost a year. fought in the harsh climate and terrain of the aleutian islands, the battle of attu was one of the bloodiest engagements in the pacific theater. next on "american history tv," journalist mark obmascik tells the story through the experiences of a japanese medic and an american officer in his book "the storm on our shores: one island, two soldiers and the forgotten battle of world war ii." >> i have a feeling that this is my finder's fee -- [ laughter ] >> -- to have the honor and privilege to introduce today's presenter, mark obmascik.