Slide-show shares galaxy

Looking down from space at the Himalayan Mountains and an erupting volcano in the Indonesian archipelago is old hat for some astronauts, but University students shared the view from space Thursday at a slide show.
The photos, taken by Vice Adm. Richard Truly, were a part of his presentation, “Space Shuttle: From the Drawing Board, to the Test Flight, to Accident Recovery.” The former astronaut spoke Thursday afternoon to a crowd of about 130 University students and staff members.
Bill Spect, a senior in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics said the photos amazed him. “It was a treat to have a legend in the field (of aerospace engineering) come and speak with us.”
Truly was the former head of NASA and is the current vice president of the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was the pilot on the second orbital test flight of the space shuttle Columbia in 1981 and the commander of the third flight of the space shuttle Challenger three years later.
“Risk is worth taking because of the possible achievement that may come with it,” stated Truly, “and the risks I have taken have definitely been worth it.”
Truly began his speech by showing slides from the second test flight of the space shuttle Columbia — his first time in space. “You’re not sure where you’re going, but you know you’re going somewhere,” he said of the take-off.
He also showed slides of a Boeing 747 aircraft carrying the space shuttle Enterprise to 25,000 feet, and then releasing it to collect data about shuttle landings. The information collected from the experiment was used to help future shuttles land.
“All the data that NASA had before launching Columbia was gained in that minute and a half of flying,” said Truly.
Truly also spoke about being a part of the Challenger crew that made the first night landing. He gave the audience a few laughs when he showed a slide of three of his crew members on board the flight, holding “Go Navy,” and “Beat Army” bumper stickers. He explained the crew was in space the week of the Army-Navy football game and thought it would be a great picture to send to the Naval Academy.
After the Challenger flight — his last time in space — Truly said he “grounded” himself back at his Alma Matter, the Georgia Institute of Technology.
But when the Challenger exploded in 1986, killing seven astronauts, Truly went back to NASA to lead the investigation into what happened and why.
He said that the fundamental cause of the explosion came from external pressures to get the Challenger off the ground, which allowed the launch to happen without making needed engineering changes. Truly said he is proud to say that after the Challenger, there have been “safe flights approximately once every other month, for the last 8 years.”
In the question-and-answer session after Truly’s slide show and speech, questions stuck to the subject of NASA.
Afterward, about 50 people gathered for refreshments with Truly to discuss his speech and ask more questions.
Truly visited the aerospace engineering and mechanics department to meet with University professors and students on Wednesday.