Rocket Man: NASA Astronaut Richard Richards

Posted By:  Liz Goodrich
Date Posted:  6/3/2014

Dick RichardsThe Apollo moon landings inspired a nation and a generation to wonder, dream and explore. From his hometown in Missouri, Dick Richards was one of countless American teens who looked up and felt the pull of space. Deschutes Public Library is pleased to welcome NASA Astronaut Dick Richards to the Redmond and Downtown Bend Libraries as part of the “Literary Elements” Summer Reading Program. This summer the Library offers science-themed programs for all ages at all branch libraries.

Tuesday, June17 • 6:00 p.m.
Redmond Library

Wednesday, June 18 • 6:00 p.m.
Downtown Bend Library

Prior to joining NASA, Richards was a Navy pilot flying fighter jets on and off aircraft carriers. According to Richards his time in the Navy prepared him for space missions by developing his self-confidence in his ability to face difficult situations. But working on Space Shuttle missions was very different says Richards. “During my Navy experience the success of a mission, once inflight, largely rested in my hands, but NASA Space Shuttle missions were vastly more complicated and you had to rely on others, as well as yourself, to be successful.” He had to learn to trust in the collective team when making difficult decisions. “That was at first difficult for me, but I grew as an individual during this timeframe and became a better professional in the process. Sharing this success resulted in lifelong friendships,” says Richards.

Richards says that space exploration remains an important source of inspiration and that we’ll get to Mars sooner rather than later. “The technology is there and the appearance of high cost is largely imaginary when compared to some of our other endeavors. It is just a matter of planetary will.” Although he wouldn’t go as far as to say that America got bored with human spaceflight after the moon landings, but he thinks we are close. “But others don’t feel that way, so if it is not us that gets to Mars, it will be someone else.” Richards remains hopeful for a renaissance in American thinking and our interest in human spaceflight can be rekindled.

Richards’ list of Naval accomplishments includes logging over 5,300 hours in 16 different types of airplanes. He has also completed more than 400 landings on board various aircraft carriers. Richards was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980. He has spent a total of 33 days, 21 hours, 32 minutes and 15 seconds in space over the course of four missions. In 1998 Richards left NASA to join the Boeing Company where he worked until 2007 supporting NASA the Space Shuttle program as the Deputy Program Manager for Space Shuttle Missions.

For more information about this or other library programs, please call 312-1032 or visit People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz at 312-1032.

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