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The Power of Persistence
04.04.06
 
Roger Crouch
Image above: Roger Crouch made two spaceflights in 1997. Credit: NASA
Roger Crouch is an astronaut. When he talks to school groups, he tells them to keep trying -- no matter how hard something is! And he knows what he is talking about.

From the time he was a kid, Crouch wanted to travel into space. It took him over 40 years, but he finally made it.

Crouch became interested in going to space when he was in elementary school. No one had been to the moon then. But he saw a movie about a trip to the moon. By the end of the movie, Crouch knew he wanted to fly into space.

When Crouch went to high school, there were no real-life astronauts yet. Crouch's role models were jet pilots like Chuck Yeager. Chuck Yeager was the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound. Crouch decided he wanted to be a jet pilot, too. But no one would let him! Something was wrong with his eyes. He has trouble seeing the difference between certain colors. He is "colorblind." And jet pilots can't be colorblind! They have to be able to see all colors. Crouch kept trying to be a pilot, but without success.

Soon, Crouch found some new heroes. They worked for NASA and trained to fly into space. They were the first astronauts. Some astronauts were also scientists. Crouch thought that would be a perfect job. In college, he decided to be a scientist. He hoped that would help him become an astronaut someday.

But Crouch's eyes caused trouble again. At that time, astronauts had to be able to see all colors, just like jet pilots. So, he couldn’t be an astronaut.

Most people would have given up their dream. But not Roger Crouch -- he just kept trying!

Three astronauts on the space shuttle
Image above: This crew is the only one to make two shuttle flights with the same members. Credit: NASA
He worked at NASA as a scientist. His experiments flew on the space shuttle. He helped the shuttle crews. And he didn't give up his dream of being an astronaut.

Then something exciting happened. NASA had a new astronaut job, the payload specialist. A payload specialist was an expert who trained to conduct experiments for one single space flight. After returning to Earth, the specialist went back to a regular job. Most payload specialists just flew one time.

Roger Crouch applied to be a payload specialist. The eye test was not as strict for that job. Finally, when he was 56 years old, Crouch’s hard work paid off. NASA accepted him for a shuttle flight as a payload specialist. Not only that, but he actually got to fly twice! His first flight had problems and had to return to Earth early. Crouch thought his only chance to fly was over. NASA had other plans. They fixed the problem with the shuttle. A few months later, Crouch and the whole crew flew into space again.

Now, Roger Crouch uses his amazing story of two flights into space to teach the same lesson your parents and teachers share with you. Never give up!

 
 
JoCasta Green and David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services