The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 8, 2012

Kansan describes trips into space during PSU visit

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Everyone had a reason Wednesday afternoon for heading to Yates Hall at Pittsburg State University.

Kansas native Steven Hawley was there to make a presentation called “The Engineering, Scientific and Cultural Legacy of the Space Shuttle,” which attempted to fit into 30 minutes 30 years of human space flight and what we have learned from it.

Several college students laughingly admitted that they understood only 60 percent of what he was saying, but they said they wanted to hear a presentation by a former NASA astronaut.

The only young child in the audience, 7-year-old Jourdain Granere, of Pittsburg, took a page of notes and asked lots of questions because he “likes to play space.”

“I asked my mom to bring me because I think it’s interesting,” he said.

PSU technology professor Randy Winzer simply wanted an autograph on a NASA-themed montage he’s had for 15 years after saving it from a school that no longer wanted it.

“It was issued by Secretary of State Jack Brier’s office, and includes a NASA picture of Steve Hawley much younger,” he pointed out, “and a Kansas flag and photos of the space shuttle.”

Winzer intends to frame it and hang it in his office.

Hawley’s office, by contrast, has included the space shuttles Discovery and Columbia, on which he completed five missions and logged more than 770 hours of flight.

These days, he hangs his hat at the University of Kansas, where he is a professor of physics and astronomy. He recently contributed to a book, “Wings in Orbit,” that is available through Amazon.com.

Born in 1951 in Ottawa, Kan., Hawley counts Salina as his hometown. He attended the University of Kansas, majoring in physics and astronomy. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in January 1978, going on to serve as a mission specialist on Discovery (1984, 1990, 1997) and Columbia (1986, 1999).

“In time, if we don’t already, we’ll come to miss the capabilities the shuttle program represents,” he said.

While Hawley’s discussion included plenty of technical specs for the science and math enthusiasts in the crowd, he peppered it with plenty of anecdotes for those whose imaginations were captured by space flight decades ago.

Take this morsel, for example: A shuttle computer is 0.005 percent as powerful as an Xbox 360. Or this gem: Hawley’s autograph, done in black Sharpie marker, is — or perhaps was — floating in space. He wrote it on a patch that he and fellow crew members attached to the Hubble Space Telescope during a repair mission.

Jourdain, the 7-year-old, wanted to find out how fast the shuttles could travel, how many tiles covered the shuttles, and how many people had ridden in them.

When asked how the end of the shuttle program might affect members of Jourdain’s generation, who would not grow up with dreams of becoming an astronaut, Hawley acknowledged that the metaphorical “carrot” for students to do well in science and math is gone.

“But it’s interesting, I still have a bunch of students that come by my office every semester and they want to know what they need to do to be part of the space program,” Hawley said. “I can still tell kids today they’re really going to have some cool jobs out there, so their sacrifice, their commitment to challenge themselves with the tough courses that maybe aren’t the most fun, they’ll have that carrot.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • r072814dogbike.jpg Cross-country trip promotes animal adoption

    Where’s Bixby? Not the town in Oklahoma, but the dog on the back of a bicycle ridden by Mike Minnick. On Monday, the two were in Joplin, one stop on a cross-country bike trip to promote the adoption of dogs and cats from local shelters.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4.3 magnitude quake reported in northern Oklahoma

    The U.S. Geological Survey says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.3 struck northern Oklahoma on Monday night.

    July 29, 2014

  • Update: 4 workers injured in SE Kansas oil refinery fire

    A Texas company says four workers at a southeast Kansas oil refinery were burned in an early morning fire.

    July 29, 2014

  • Seneca man draws concurrent term in sexual abuse case

    A 39-year-old man who sexually abused a girl over a four-year period in both Joplin and Seneca received a 15-year sentence Monday in Newton County that will run concurrently with a term he received earlier this year in Jasper County.

    July 28, 2014

  • Judge lifts seal on records in Parsons quadruple slaying

    A judge has rescinded his order sealing court records in the case of David Bennett Jr., who is accused of killing a Parsons woman and her three children.

    July 28, 2014

  • Defendant who pulled knife on ER doctor sent for treatment

    A man accused of pulling a knife on a Freeman Hospital West emergency room doctor pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Monday and was sentenced to the state prison system’s Institutional Treatment Center.

    July 28, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to build second local Neighborhood Market

    A second Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store is planned for Joplin. The company has filed an application with the city to rezone nearly six acres of land on the west side of town in the tornado zone to build a new Neighborhood Market and gas station.

    July 28, 2014

  • r072814mailcar.jpg VIDEO: Train mail car trailered on Joplin's Main Street to Redings Mill

    With a police escort leading the way Monday, postal car No. 34 breezed through downtown Joplin en route to its new home in Redings Mill, where it was greeted by a welcome party of local residents and railroad enthusiasts.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter