Posted by cservaes on June 13, 2012 in "Current Students", Events, Hostetter-DeFries, NASA, "Space Shuttle Discovery", "The College"
The truth is - being married to an astronaut, though thrilling, is very scary. It’s risky. It’s dangerous. And it’s nerve-racking. But Eileen Hawley made a life of NASA alongside her astronaut husband Steven, and now the couple share their experiences in presentations throughout the country. The Hawleys visited Ottawa University as part of the annual Hostetter-DeFries Family Endowed Cultural Event on March 28 and 29, making two presentations, “Wings in Orbit” and “Inside NASA,” in the Fredrikson Chapel. “It’s an interesting perspective when you’re a spouse or a family member of an astronaut,” Eileen Hawley told the Ottawa University community. Besides leading communication efforts in NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for 15 years, Eileen also waited anxiously during every lift-off and re-entry throughout her husband’s extended career. As the communications liaison for NASA, Eileen, who holds a bachelor’s degree in media studies from the University of Houston, Clear Lake, and a master’s degree in strategic communications and leadership from Seton Hall University, constantly juggled her professional role with her personal emotions and practical actions. “Before a space mission, family members had to make difficult decisions - preparing wills and funeral arrangements,” said Eileen. “It’s not the kind of thing people think of you doing, but it’s one of the things we had to sit and talk about.” Steven was born in Ottawa and grew up in Salina, Kansas. He holds a BA in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Kansas, as well as a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of California. Selected as a NASA astronaut in 1978, he logged a total of 770 hours, 27 minutes in five space flights during his 25 years there. Steven was onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery three times, and he spent 146 hours in space on the Columbia as the shuttle’s flight engineer. The Columbia’s primary mission was to successfully deploy the Chandra X-ray Observatory while also conducting experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. While in space, Steven said he was able to see the world in a unique way. “When it’s clear, you can see the city lights,” he said. “We flew over the U.S. and it was clear from coast to coast. You could see the major cities and with a little practice, you could figure out the small cities. I was able to find Salina. It is really amazing.” Steven also recalls the not-so-amazing times. He was friends with all of the crew members onboard the Challenger that exploded shortly after lift-off in 1986. “Many of them were my classmates,” he said.And Eileen was inside the NASA newsroom when the space shuttle Columbia went down in 2003. “It was a very difficult time,” she said. Witnessing those devastations have made the Hawleys thankful for their own safety, as they knew it could have been Steven. “At the end of every mission, we were really happy to see each other,” Steven said. Steven has received numerous honors of distinction from NASA for his service and leadership. Among his many other awards, Steven has been selected twice as the Kansan of the Year and was inducted into both the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Currently he is the director of engineering and physics, as well as a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas. Eileen (Keegan) Hawley is from Redondo Beach, California. While at NASA, she developed and managed the comprehensive strategic plan associated with NASA’s space shuttle “return-to-flight” activities; she was also responsible for communications strategies following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia (2003) and represented NASA in its dealings with the NFL and Super Bowl host committee in its tributes to NASA and the Columbia crew during Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston. Eileen is currently the director of communications and investor relations for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and a lecturer in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas. The Hostetter-DeFries Cultural Event is funded by the Hostetter-DeFries Family Endowed Cultural Fund, which was established in 1999 by Ottawa University alumna Alice Jo (Hostetter) DeFries ’51. The goal of the fund and annual cultural event is to host guest speakers who have contributed significantly to the social, artistic or cultural improvement of society. Other News 27 ouspirit@