5-time astronaut to speak at CRI luncheon
She will talk about experiences as a five-time astronaut.
She will describe the valuable research conducted while in orbit.
And she will discuss why we must not abandon the quest for knowledge that comes from space exploration.
Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after a 27-year career as a space flight controller, an astronaut, and an executive.
She will speak at the spring term luncheon sponsored by the Creative Retirement Institute, the lifelong learning program at Edmonds Community College, on Wednesday, March 16.
Title of her talk is “Through My Eyes: A Perspective on Human Space Exploration.”
The event is open to the general public.
Dr. Dunbar has strong ties to Washington. She was raised on a ranch in Sunnyside, near Yakima, where as a child she drove tractors, worked the fields, and learned what it took to make a living.
Then, one night when she was eight, she discovered science. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik and bragged about sending the first human-made object into space.
That event opened the door for Bonnie Dunbar.
In high school she was an honor student, became a cheerleader, and was voted the most athletic girl in her class. But science was her love.
High school diploma in hand, she applied to NASA, hoping to join the astronaut corps.
She received a polite reply, spelling out the necessary credentials.
She proceeded to earn them. At the University of Washington, she received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in ceramic engineering. (Later, she earned a doctorate in mechanical/biomedical engineering from the University of Houston.)
Though some professors encouraged her, she had to overcome the prevailing attitude, “This is no career for a woman.”
Her first jobs were at Boeing and the Harrell Laboratories in England. Then she secured a post at Rockwell International’s Space Division in California, working on the production of ceramic tiles for the Space Shuttle. A move to NASA came next, where she held positions at the Johnson Space Center.
When the call came for her to train as an astronaut, Bonnie Dunbar more than rose to the occasion. She became the seventh American woman in space, eventually logging more than 1,200 hours.
Dr. Dunbar has received countless awards, including NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal and Outstanding Leadership Award.
“Bonnie and I were classmates,” Governor Christine Gregoire recalls. “I remember her tenacity and resolve. She knew the universe was within her reach.”
She also complimented Dr. Dunbar for her achievements as head of Seattle’s Museum of Flight, especially her encouraging young people to aspire to careers in science.
Currently, Dr. Dunbar is executive director of Wings Over Washington, dedicated to future development of the museum.
In her speech, a major topic for Dr. Dunbar will be that this country’s pre-eminence in space exploration can now be eclipsed by other nations – and what the consequences might be.
You can learn more about her appearance and other CRI offerings by phoning 425-640-1830 or going to www.edcc.edu/cri.