Shannon Lucid

Jon Lang

Ever since children have dared to dream, they have always dreamt of
going to the moon or to the stars. For the millions of children who dream this,
only an infinitely small portion actually achieve this goal. In 1943 in war-
torn China, a girl was born who had this same dream. Her name was Shannon Lucid.
She was born in 1943 to a Baptist preacher, Joseph Oscar Wells and
Myrtle Wells, a nurse. At 6 months of age she and her parents were sent to a
prison camp by the Japanese. Only a year later were they safe in American arms
after they were traded for Japanese POW\'s. After the war they went back to
China, but in 1949 they were forced to leave when the communists took over.
They then settled in Bethany, Oklahoma.
She always had the dream that someday she would be a space explorer.
People thought her crazy for this dream though, because the United
States didn\'t even have a space program. After graduating from Bethany High
School in 1960 she got her pilot\'s license. In regard to her dream she said,
"the Baptists wouldn\'t let women preach, so I had to become an astronaut to get
closer to God than my father." By this time America already had a space program.
She could not believe that of the first seven Mercury astronauts, none were
females. This is just one more instance she complained of discrimination of
women in traditionally male held occupations. She experienced the same thing
when she tried unsuccessfully to become a commercial pilot. So from Ś66-\'68 she
worked at Kerr-Mcgee Corp. as a chemist. This is also where she met her
husband Michael Lucid. After she was married she returned to school at the
University of Oklahoma, where she earned her B.S. in Chemistry. One interesting
occurrence after the birth of her daughter, the very next day she took a
biochemistry exam, which her instructor had expected her to make up later.
Three years later she finally had a chance to fulfill her dream by
getting into the space program. The program was now allowing women. She
"scrambled" to get her application in and was accepted as one of the first six
female astronauts. These women had to go through rigorous testing and they
proved that it doesn\'t take a Y chromosome to have "The Right Stuff".
Her greatest accomplishment to date is she has spent the most time in
space of any American. She spent 188 days and 65,454,841 miles in space. She
is truly a tribute to sheer will power. When she came back to earth the effects
of space usually make the bones and muscles grow weak from lack of gravity. The
Russian cosmonauts have to be carried out on stretchers. Her ability to walk
can be accredited to her 400 plus hours logged on the treadmill and stationary
bike. That is almost 17 days or a tenth of her total time in space, working out.

The space program has really changed in the past ten to fifteen years.
Now it is predominately scientific. The space program really isn\'t into taking
patriotic notches like they once were. Most of the missions deal with
scientific experiments. For example, Lucid conducted experiments with quail
eggs and the effects of zero gravity on them and how protein crystals are formed.
On other missions scientists have created perfect spheres, a feat almost
impossible on earth. It is truly a shift from the "The Right Stuff" to the
"The New Stuff". Gone are the days of racing T-38\'s and here to stay are the
days of science and for the good of man not the military.
Shannon Lucid has been one of the people that has allowed everyone to
dream for the stars. She hasn\'t had quite the effect of Neil Armstrong "one
giant leap for mankind" but she has made a great leap for everyone who dares to
dream.

Category: Social Issues