Astronaut Describes 'One of NASA's Finest Hours'

April 25, 2017
DMD Staff

Scott Parazynski, M.D., is the only astronaut to have also summited Mt. Everest. Because of his experiences in space and on earth, he knows a few things about managing risk. In this clip, Parazynski describes one of the most challenging scenarios he found himself in on a spacewalk: repairing a damaged solar panel.

Scott Parazynski, M.D., is the only astronaut to have also summited Mt. Everest. Because of his experiences in space and on earth, he knows a few things about managing risk. In this clip, Parazynski describes one of the most challenging scenarios he found himself in on a spacewalk: repairing a damaged solar panel.

Interview Transcript (Modified for Readability)

“The most challenging scenario I found myself in in space was during my last mission: STS-120 when we were faced with a solar panel that had become snagged. It had become ripped in a couple of places. It was a critical situation because we were not able to fully extend it and rigidize it, or retract it back into its box. We basically had a limp noodle that had to be addressed either by fixing it or throwing away a billion-dollar national asset, which the taxpayer wouldn’t have liked.

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Thankfully, the brilliant NASA team worked around the clock for 72 hours and came up with an amazing plan to send space walkers out. I was the lead space walker with Doug Wheelock, who was my partner. Our crew inside the space shuttle, and space station, and mission control working in concert to repair this live solar panel. It was really one of NASA’s finest hours. Coming up with a plan to get us out to the very tip of the space station, further than we’ve ever gone before and affect surgery, basically, on a live solar panel. We were able to come up with a solution by working collaboratively. No one person took the glory. It was certainly an incredible team accomplishment.”

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