Privileged perspectives

American space stories


Two free upcoming lectures spotlight Americans' relationships to the cosmos, offering unique perspectives on the space race and space travel.

It's a well-known consideration that the people who make the isolating, stressful, and dangerous journey to space must be fit for the trip in every conceivable way. But what about the families? The next lecture in the Neilly Series, "All Systems Go: 'The Astronaut Wives Club' and Redemptive Non-Fiction Female Literature," given by New York Times bestselling author Lily Koppel, will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the women who stood behind the Mercury Seven astronauts, who served on crucial missions during the Space Race.

In "The Astronaut Wives Club," Koppel describes the overnight transformation of the women's lives from military wives to American royalty, and the forming of a friendships that bore them through divorce, tragedy, and the media's spotlight.

The lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 8, at 7 p.m., in the Hawkins-Carlson Room of Rush Rhees Library (University of Rochester, River Campus), and is free and open to the public. Reserved Parking is available in the Library Lot. For more information, call 275-4461 or visit

On Monday, April 13, NASA astronaut Donald Pettit will present "Astronauts' Guide to Photography in Space." A veteran of three space flights, Pettit has spent a combined 370 days in space, orbited the Earth more than 3,000 times, traveled 82 million miles, and logged 13 hours in space walks. During these travels, he took nearly a half million photos from perhaps the most privileged perspective.

"Looking at Earth from space is amazingly beautiful," Pettit says. "It's a perspective where you can see things on a length scale of half a continent."

He will share the photographic challenges faced by astronauts on board the International Space Station, as well as some of the ingenious solutions he developed during his time in the "final frontier."

The lecture will be held at 6 p.m. in RIT's Webb Auditorium (James E. Booth Hall, RIT Campus, 1 Lomb Memorial Drive), and is free and open to the public. Pettit will remain on campus on April 14 to visit with students, faculty, and staff in the College of Science, the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, and the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. Part of the visit includes meeting with student researchers who will examine ways to reduce damage to photos caused by cosmic rays in space.

Preview Pettit's photographic work and time-lapse movies by visiting