In the Age of Spaceplanes

Stories from the shuttle astronauts, in their own words.


Jim Voss: Because I'm Scared to Death


We were sitting there on the launch pad before the STS-44 launch, and there was a lot of banter in the cockpit, a lot of kidding around and stuff. It was the nervous sort of banter you get on a sports team before it goes out to play. Tom Henricks, the pilot, who like me was about to launch for the first time, noticed that Story Musgrave, who was making his fourth flight, was pretty quiet—he hadn’t been joining in all this kidding. And Tom said, “Story, how come you’re so quiet over there?” And Story, just as serious as can be, said, “Because I’m scared to death.” It got just deathly quiet in the cockpit then. It was really pretty funny. I don’t think another word was said for the last couple of minutes before launch, because everybody starting thinking, “Well, maybe we need to be thinking about this a little more seriously.”

Pictured: Launch of Atlantis on Mission STS-44, December 1991.

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