Written by Elaine Paniszczyn
Astrophysicist Steve Hawley PhD said when he was a kid, he dreamed of becoming an astronaut. He did, flying into outer space five times on Space Shuttle missions. He helped launch the Hubble Space Telescope and on a later mission, he helped repair the Hubble. He was also on the mission that launched the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
At Irving Central Library, Hawley talked about his career, advances in telescopes, in space exploration in the United States, and inspiring today’s youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Hawley said his career as an astronaut still feels like a dream and that every day he feels like somebody should pinch him to wake him up. He said that when he was a kid, it was not realistic for him to dream of becoming an astronaut.
“When I was a kid, all the astronauts were military test pilots,” Hawley said. “I didn’t see that there would be an opportunity for me to do that, although because I was interested in it and interested in space, I got a degree and PhD in – astrophysics. Luckily, when the space shuttle came along, they opened up the astronaut position to not only the traditional military test pilots but to scientists and engineers as well. For me, I had prepared well because I had dreamed of it as a kid, but the opportunity was being in the right place at the right time.”