Steward Observatory/NSF’s NOIRLab Joint Colloquium Series: "Staying on the High Wire: Success in Spaceflight Projects"

Dr. Andrew Chaikin

Abstract: For the last 10 years space historian Andrew Chaikin, known for his portrayals of the Apollo moon program, has been exploring the elements of success and failure in spaceflight projects, which he likens to an unforgiving high-wire walk. Chaikin will show that as hard as the technical part of the job is—the “rocket science”—it’s the attitudes, beliefs and assumptions we bring to the work that can mean the difference between success and failure.  He will use examples from the Apollo program and also touch on the two Space Shuttle accidents, as well as his experiences as a team member on the New Horizons mission to Pluto.


Bio: Space historian Andrew Chaikin is best known as the author of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts, which tells the stories of the Apollo missions through the eyes of the astronauts. The book was the main basis for Tom Hanks’ 12-part Emmy-winning miniseries for HBO, “From the Earth to the Moon.” A graduate in geology from Brown University, Chaikin has brought his knowledge of planetary science to his writing and teaching. As a visiting instructor at NASA he has taught the history of human and robotic space missions, as well as the human behavior aspects of success and failure in spaceflight projects.



3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 6, 2021