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    Posted January 31, 2013 by
    Houston, Texas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    NASA Day of Remembrance - astronauts I met


    February first is NASA - Day of Remembrance. I choose to add my photo memories of those I have personally met who worked for the betterment of humanity through their dedication to space exploration.


    Sally Ride (1951-2012) -- the first U.S. woman astronaut; STS-7, STS-41-G
    I saw her launch into history in June 1983. Just a few months later I landed a job at the NASA-Johnson Space Center supporting space shuttle flight controllers. I was part of the team to develop software for the Mission Operations Control Room aka Mission Control Center. One year I was watching Ride launch. The next year I was part of the team for her second launch. I took a photograph of her during a NASA-JSC press conference in the Public Affairs Office building in the fall of 1984. I saw her at the "after mission" parties at JSC but she declined photographs.


    Alan Shepard (1923-1998) -- first U.S. astronaut in space; Mercury MR-3, Apollo 14 astronaut on moon
    He had a short 15 minute suborbital flight. I was in second grade when we listened to the news in school. I had no idea that one day I would meet him in person. The occasion was at the annual NASA-JSC chili cook-off. My camera and I captured a fine portrait on the lawn of the James West mansion near JSC, which was the home of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The year was 1984 or 1985.


    Deke Slayton (1924-1993) -- Mercury 7 original, flew Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
    I attended many events at the NASA-JSC. I wasn’t much of a runner but I was definitely a photographer. I caught several nice shots of space runner Deke in a t-shirt that advertised a brew. I prefer to believe he is thinking of space exploration in this picture taken in the mid-1980s. I attended his memorial service at NASA-JSC in 1993. It was a rainy day so the service was held indoors in the Building 2 auditorium. Comedian Bill Dana was one of the attendees to honor Slayton. He was a favorite of the Mercury astronauts in the 1960s as portrayed in the popular movie “The Right Stuff.” I grew up watching Dana on The Ed Sullivan Show doing his astronaut skit, Jose Jimenez.


    Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) -- first human being to step upon the surface of another planetary object; Gemini 8, Apollo 11
    I saw all three Apollo 11 astronauts in Washington, D.C. in 1979. However, I got a really nice view and handshake on July 20, 1999 at the NASA-JSC picnic. My camera caught him just in time after my historic close encounter.


    Sonny Carter (1947-1991) -- space shuttle astronaut on STS-33
    I was touring the space station mock-up in Building 15 in August 1988. I didn’t know anyone would be there. AIAA was filming for a possible PBS documentary. Carter had not yet flown when I took his picture. His mission was the following year.


    all photos (C) Candy Torres

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