NASA Podcasts

In Their Own Words - Conrad Nagel
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SLATE: What were you thinking and feeling the first time Atlantis launched?

Conrad Nagel, Atlantis' First Flow Director: My emotions were very high. Just to be a part of the team that, sitting in the firing room that day, you know, as the assistant launch director. And to watch her light up that day was so exciting. And, of course, lifting off the pad, you know, it just like took my breath away. It was very exciting. I will never forget that moment.

SLATE: Do you feel like a proud parent of Atlantis?

I have that, I have had that proud parent moment for a lot of years with Atlantis. You know, we're looking at roughly 25 years ago when it came to Kennedy Space Center. And I think about, well, I had 13 of those 25 years that I had days, nights and weekends with Atlantis. So, yes, I feel like a parent to Atlantis.

SLATE: What did you think when you were assigned as flow director for Atlantis?

When I was selected as the flow director for OV-104, Atlantis, that was probably one of the most exciting days of my life. I can tell you, it was, it was just like a dream come true.

SLATE: What do you think about when you see Atlantis?

I was just over in the OPF a few weeks ago and walking around the vehicle. And it is just awesome to have that feeling, you know, of a relationship with a machine. And a lot of people can't understand that. But when you spend as much time as I spent around that machine, which is a beautiful spacecraft, it is a great relationship that I think I had with both the spaceship and with the team that was taking care of her constantly over those times that I was in charge of that.

SLATE: What are the astronauts like to work with?

When you get to know these guys and gals, you are just amazed that we have this level of people that are representing this country. That to me was one of the highlights of my whole career.

SLATE: What are your memories when Atlantis returned to flight after the Challenger accident?

But that first flight after Challenger for Atlantis, that was an experience. And the flight crew was just so courageous and so willing to give. The commitment that everybody made to step up to the next level of safety. I think you listen a little closer, you're a little more attentive, and then, of course, when engines light up, you know, and the vehicle rocks back, you know, that seemed like a lot longer time than for a normal mission. It's just a few seconds, but those few seconds seemed like forever.

SLATE: How should the space shuttle be remembered?

If we look back on the shuttle program, I think we're going to recognize that this has truly been a milestone in American technology.

SLATE: What do you think when you look back on your shuttle career? NAGEL:
But for me, you know, it has been a very exciting ride to be able to be a part of this magnificent program.

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