When a NASA shuttle rockets through Earth’s atmosphere, the astronauts on board experience a range of emotions. As the craft soars into the environment beyond our planet, some even feel physically ill due to the change in gravity.
“Beyond everything else you experience while leaving earth, everyone has that one moment when you realize, as they say in The Wizard of Oz, ‘You are not in Kansas anymore,’” says Marsha Ivins, a former NASA astronaut who has spent over 55 days in space over the course of five missions.
Before a packed audience in the Rauch Business Center’s Perella Auditorium on Monday evening, Ivins delivered a two-hour presentation that highlighted life aboard the International Space Station. She also described the history of space flight, and drew connections between the teamwork required for astronauts to be successful and the work people do in any industry.
“The story of the space program is about how like-minded people can come together and learn to work as a team,” said Ivins, who first went to space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1990.
“You have to be able to get along with, work with and trust people you may not socialize with regularly. You realize that you are the only five or six people who aren’t on the planet, and you learn that your lives are tied to your ability to work together.”
The presentation was a part of the Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry, a five-week summer program sponsored by the Iacocca Institute at Lehigh. Now in its 16th year, Global Village boasts a network of over 1,500 business leaders from 128 countries. Throughout Ivins’ presentation, she shared photos of cities around the world from space, pointing out many of the countries the Global Village participants call home.
Ivins also told her audience that she hopes to see space exploration expand in the future. She says that NASA should look to go back to the moon, and take further steps to explore nearby planets.
“Why should we explore space? I look at pictures taken by the Hubble telescope, of all the galaxies out there, and see that there is so much for us to learn and explore,” said Ivins.
Reaching another galaxy may seem impossible to some, but as she noted, when she was a child, many of her peers told her dreams of one day making it to space were unrealistic, too.
“People thought I was crazy,” she recalls. “But I always knew I wanted to work in the space program.”
In addition to Ivins’ seminar on space exploration, Global Village participants during their stay at Lehigh will experience additional seminars on entrepreneurial thinking, communicating leadership and emerging markets in Asia, among other topics. The program also includes business immersion projects with various businesses based in the United States and abroad. Participants split into teams and tackle projects assigned by the business to which they are assigned.
For more information on the Global Village program, visit the Iacocca Institute website: http://www.iacocca-lehigh.org/Iacocca/globalvillage/index.shtml