NASA's Godwin eager to attend rededication

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Linda Godwin, a Jackson High School and Southeast Missouri State University graduate, will be back on familiar turf for today's rededication of Cape Girardeau's "Missouri Wall of Fame."

Godwin, a NASA astronaut, will speak, as will Carole Buck, widow of Hall of Fame Cardinal broadcaster Jack Buck.

"It's an honor to be on the wall with some really, really famous Missourians," Godwin said, ticking off such names as Samuel Clemens, Harry Truman and Gen. Omar Bradley, "who have the changed the world more than I have."

After four shuttle flights, Godwin is done flying through space. But she's still an active part of NASA.

She reports to Johnson Space Center's flight crew operations, based in Houston, but her job is still up in the air.

"Our plan is to get back to the moon," she said.

Godwin spends her days helping develop a new vehicle that will visit the international space station on its way to the moon. She works with active astronauts and cockpit developers to make sure people can work inside the machine. She helps sort out details of mission design, deciding what astronauts will do in space and what tools go along on a mission, how long a crew will be gone and when it will return to Earth. She also studies safety issues.

So, Godwin said, it made her sad earlier this year when a romantic triangle among three other astronauts mushroomed into a national scandal.

"We all just hated it. It was real crazy to see people's careers destroyed for reasons I just don't understand," she said. "Within NASA, everyone knows people and knows that was a one-time anomaly. As far as public perception, I feel for the agency. It's changed people's view."

She said the tabloid news eclipsed significant gains in space made this year.

"This year's mission on the space station was tremendously successful," she said. "There were complicated space walks ... they have just been marathons."

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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