Space Pioneers in Their Own Words
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Space Pioneers in Their Own Words
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Each month, a brief excerpt from a space pioneer's oral history will be featured on this page. This is the excerpt for January 2018:
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Each month, a brief excerpt from a space pioneer's oral history will be featured on this page. This is the excerpt for January 2018:
In last month's excerpt, Charles Deitrich talked about bringing Apollo 13 back after an explosion had crippled the service module 200,000 miles from Earth. This is a continuation of his description:

Don Piccard, son of high-altitude balloon pioneers Jean and Jeanette Piccard, also became a renowned balloonist. He recalled the following episode:

People asked Captain Benson, Navy flight surgeon with NASA, "What is space?" He said, "Physiological space is around 45,000 to 50,000 feet." They said, "Well, 57,000 feet." He said, "Well, that would be physiological space." I said, "Captain Benson, would you say my mother was the first woman in space?" He said, "Yeah, yeah, sure, that is great. That is good idea." And when mother went to work for NASA, then they did say for a while that she was the first woman in space. But at a Federation Aeronautical International conference in Mexico City, I had the occasion to meet Valentina Tereshkova, and her interpreter was Khrushchev's personal interpreter. She had on loan the best interpreter, there is no question. I was able to say, "Comrade Tereshkova, when I told my mother I was perhaps to meet you, she asked me to greet you." She said, "Thank you, very much." And I said, "Perhaps you don't know who my mother is. My mother is Jeannette Piccard, who piloted a balloon to 57,000 feet in 1934, more than two miles into physiological space. And she wanted me to congratulate you on your marvelous achievement, and on behalf of all the women in America to welcome you to space." This was translated to her. She came back and said, "I know very well who your mother is. I am most appreciative of her good wishes, and please give her all my love." While she was saying in Russian "all my love" before the interpreter could translate it I knew what she was saying, and I leaned forward and gave her a big kiss. So I am one of the few people that kissed both space women. And I did get Sally Ride to give me a little peck one time.




Unless otherwise attributed, all SpacePioneerWords.com content is © Loretta Hall, 2013-2018.
Don Piccard, son of high-altitude balloon pioneers Jean and Jeanette Piccard, also became a renowned balloonist. He recalled the following episode:

People asked Captain Benson, Navy flight surgeon with NASA, "What is space?" He said, "Physiological space is around 45,000 to 50,000 feet." They said, "Well, 57,000 feet." He said, "Well, that would be physiological space." I said, "Captain Benson, would you say my mother was the first woman in space?" He said, "Yeah, yeah, sure, that is great. That is good idea." And when mother went to work for NASA, then they did say for a while that she was the first woman in space. But at a Federation Aeronautical International conference in Mexico City, I had the occasion to meet Valentina Tereshkova, and her interpreter was Khrushchev's personal interpreter. She had on loan the best interpreter, there is no question. I was able to say, "Comrade Tereshkova, when I told my mother I was perhaps to meet you, she asked me to greet you." She said, "Thank you, very much." And I said, "Perhaps you don't know who my mother is. My mother is Jeannette Piccard, who piloted a balloon to 57,000 feet in 1934, more than two miles into physiological space. And she wanted me to congratulate you on your marvelous achievement, and on behalf of all the women in America to welcome you to space." This was translated to her. She came back and said, "I know very well who your mother is. I am most appreciative of her good wishes, and please give her all my love." While she was saying in Russian "all my love" before the interpreter could translate it I knew what she was saying, and I leaned forward and gave her a big kiss. So I am one of the few people that kissed both space women. And I did get Sally Ride to give me a little peck one time.
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