tv Reel America Where Dreams Come True - 1979 CSPAN April 11, 2021 4:00pm-4:31pm EDT
announcer: directed by african-american filmmaker william greaves and narron aided by a much -- ricardo monta bond, where dreams come true is a 1979 film highlighting the contributions of women and minorities and can -- encouraging others to pursue a career. research psychologist patricia cowings and ruben ramos and former astronaut frederick gregory. much of the work depicted in this film relates to the fledgling space shuttle program, which was two years away from its first mission. >> you are a little girl and you want to be an astronaut when you were up, it is like wanting to -- you grow up, it is like wanting to be a policeman when you grow up or in some cases wanting to be a doctor when you grow up. you are told that is not an appropriate goal for a little girl. why don't you want to be something else? be a nurse, do not be a doctor.
if it is not put on you that this sexist trip that this is an inappropriate goal for a little girl, what you might hear from a counselor at school is that what you are trying to do is something that is beyond your abilities. you are shooting to high -- too high. if i could give any advice to anybody, and i hate people who give advice, it would be not to let people tell you what you cannot be. you have to decide for yourself what it is that you want, and if you wanted, really want it badly -- want it, really want it badly enough, then you have to make it happen for yourself. ♪ >> [indiscernible] >> whenever you hear the name
nasa the first things you think about our space spectaculars, and the mysteries of the universe, but the thing you have to keep in mind is this place where dreams come true is made up of plain people, human beings like you are me. and -- you and me. [indisctinct chatter] ♪ [plane engine] ♪ >> standby, t minus one. we have a tpc failure. accelerometers will be decelerated. >> roger. ♪
>> what kind of person goes to work for nasa? when the space shuttle was first tested at the flight research center in southern california, a lot of people did not know that the director of the shuttle operations was a soft-spoken, highly qualified former air force test pilot. mr. gillam was born in washington, d.c. as a kid he liked to, lots of -- liked math, lots of math. he built model airplanes and
dreamed of flying. >> as far as i'm concerned is what i did is pursue an interest that i had a lot of enthusiasm about, flying airplanes, rockets in space as that evolved, and my joining nasa was relatively natural because i was interested in these types of things. [engine sounding] >> and my evolution within the organization has probably been as natural as anything might be. we now have black astronauts and female astronauts, which is indicative of the agency's concern and desire to provide opportunities to everyone who wishes to participate in these types of activities. >> we have offered our expertise to them. >> are they similar to a lunar lander? >> except that it is mobile, and the airplane will come down and a capsule will deploy into its flight configuration and fly
several 1000 feet above the mars surface and that way we can explore about 4000 miles of the mars surface. things of that nature. >> the meeting started at about 8:30 this morning. >> over the years there is been a steady increase of minorities and women involved in nasa's many programs. at the jobs they occupied range all the way from those of clerks, mechanics, electricians, safety inspectors straight through to computer programmers, scientists, and engineers like one of the top engineers. his work with the vehicles contribute to the success of the early space shuttle landings. ♪
the headquarters of the new astronauts where the shuttle is operated is in houston, texas. although a number of human beings venturing into the space is steadily increasing, the quality of the individual remains exceedingly high, particularly so among that new breed of astronaut, the mission specialist. >> when the shuttle made it possible for scientists to be part of the program is astronauts, then that was my break. i will be involved in payload operations performing some of the experiments. if there is any extra vehicular activity going on i will be performing that, so it is a multiplicity of duties. >> let's chat with the people of nasa, people like dr. ronald
mcnair, a physics professor and one of nasa's newest astronauts. you are a phd from m.i.t., are not you? >> that is right. >> that is a tough thing to get, isn't it? >> i have to agree. >> why is it so tough? >> it is a very broad field involving -- many time involving abstract things that are not intuitive. they violate our intuition and in the world as most people know it often, and you have to bring a lot of disciplines together within physics. electromagnetism, thermodynamics. a lot of things you have to pull together. it is very challenging, but it is one of those challenging efforts that is satisfying. >> well, now i mean -- for example, you do not come from a mathematics or science background.
>> there are no scientists or about people in my family. -- math people in my family. i did not grow up around it. >> where did you grow up? >> lake city, south carolina. i think in my case i had -- i was an initiative type of student. look at it this way. i was interested in just about every subject that came along but science and mathematics gave me the most challenge, gave me the most difficulty and i had to work harder to understand and master the techniques, and it fascinated me. when i run out of books or get ahead of a course i would go out and find something else because i would hear about something somewhere or a new concept and i would want to find out what it was about. in that case it was a inner drive, i still type of motivation thing.
>> has athletics had any value to you as an astronaut in your job your nsr? -- nasa? -- in your job at nasa? >> especially in the development stage. i have always been involved with athletics. in high school i was captain of the football, track, and baseball teams. i am still involved with sports. i am a karate instructor and that is where i spent most of my hours of physical activity. it is something i have been doing for the past 12 years and i have been, quite involved in it. athletics help develop a great deal of that discipline i was talking about, that ability to do a job even when you do not feel like doing it. do something you have to do or need to do even when you do not feel like it or not. that is not be a great deal on
the football field suffering and you have to take that next step and keep going and not giving up. karate has been very good for sustaining discipline and for keeping a call frame of mind and a positive outlook. ♪ >> i would like to think that i have gotten to the space program and what in 20 years will turn out to be the start of the space station in iraq and 40 or 50 years from now i will look back and realize that was where i jumped in to it. i am fortunate in having an aspect and that part or period of the space program. i hope there is further meant planetary explanation during the time i'm in the program. i would very much like to go to mars and participate in first-hand observations of another planet. >> a conversation with dr. kevin sullivan, geologist.
>> what is a mission specialist? >> what is a mission specialist in 25 words or less. really the chief scientist aboard the space shuttle. there are two other people on board who have responsibility for getting the craft into orbit and maintaining it spit -- safety, keeping it at the right altitude and landed safely. and there was another group of people that want to make use of the fact that you are there. they want you to put a satellite out for them or they want you to pick it up or bring it back and fix it. maybe it is a scientist who want you to operate a furnace for him and see if you can make a new kind of mental ally -- alloy. it may be a geologist who wants to look back at the girth, an astronomer who wants to look at the sun or ultraviolet radiation from the star.
those people need someone on board the shuttle who thoroughly understand the space shuttle systems and also understand their scientific priorities and you get make judgments about what to do at what point in time during the mission. we plan all of this out before you go up on a flight, but things happen during the flight that force you to change that plan on a moment to moment basis, so you need a number of people fully acquainted with the shuttle systems and their operation and fully acquainted with the side to be systems. the mission specialist stands between the flight blue -- group -- >> it sounds like an incredible event stating for scientists. is it? >> i think it is the best there is. just the tops of the volcanoes on mars are really spectacular. viking as sureness that -- shown -- has shown us that, and volcanoes are one of my strong theological -- geological it was. i would be more than happy to be
the first geologist to sample those volcanoes anytime. >> they have quite a stable of airplanes out there. all of them are t-38's. the pilot will fly as mission commanders. the mission specialist will fly in the backseat of. >> astronaut frederick gregory tells us about his background. >> i grew up in washington, d.c. and of course went to high school in washington. i had a couple of years of college, because then i went to the air force academy. [egine sounding] -- >> the air force gave me an opportunity. i went immediately from jets,
and that was in 1970, and i have been flying as it research experimental test pilot from 1971 to 1977. i was able to would you relate many hours, perhaps 2000 hours of actual testing, and i have flown probably 40 or more different kinds of airplanes. one morning i was going to school. i was at the college at the time. i got to the school, opened up the mailbox, and there was a note that said call houston, and i called down, and the director of operations asked me if i was still interested in the job done here, so that is the way i was notified. did not take me long to think about that answer either. >> and what was your reaction? >> i was stunned. i guess i wanted a shot.
♪ >> we are now in the era of the space shuttle, and once again the world will focus its attention on america's astronauts. how did the astronauts feel about being the center of so much attention? >> when i talk to people i tell them probably for every astronaut who of course gets all of the publicity there are probably 1000 support people behind the scenes that you never see, and those are really the essential people. >> [indiscernible] >> they are the ones who plan it, execute it, ensure it is conducted in a safe way. they get us back. of course, the only people everybody sees is the astronaut, or the only person they see is the astronaut, but it takes so
many different kinds of people, so many skills to make a mission, fly a mission, so it is one huge team. the astronauts are just the focal point. the crew of the shuttle it will be the focal point. it takes the entire crew to accomplish the mission. >> we will start you a baseline. are you ready? time is on. greenlight, decreased when you -- it will decrease when you see the red light. ♪ >> [indiscernible] >> dr. patricia cowings, key to survival. >> the matter how we make the -- what we have found is no matter how we make the people sick, individual symptoms are
still the same. if we can control symptoms under one condition we assume we should be able to control them under another condition. at what we plan on doing eventually is to test the treatment and space. -- in space. right now there is a problem associated with the program -- manned space flight programs coming up where in when people are initially exposed to zero gravity they sometimes experience symptoms similar to motion sickness on the earth. the symptoms are similar but the cause is quite different the kind of stimulation your inner ear gets is totally alien to anything you experience on earth. >> i see. now, what exactly is your area of concern? >> i am a cyber physiologist, so i studied the relationship between the mind and the body. what i am doing here is using a
variant of biofeedback research where it can train subject to control several of their own responses, their physiological responses simultaneously and thereby suppress the symptoms that would normally occur in a motion sickness. ♪ >> but you do not have to be a phd to work at nasa or even at astronaut. ♪ most of the people who work at nasa work in a wide variety of jobs which at the surface seem far removed from science and outer space. everyone is crucial to the success of the space shuttle program. a simple secretarial error can jeopardize a space probe millions of miles away. there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow in a job at nasa. also, there are educational programs which nasa sponsors at
universities and colleges throughout the country for persons interested in careers in the space sciences. in many instances nasa gives financial help to college students who are interested in joining nasa. ♪ >> i will give you an analogy of what we are doing here. let's assume you were going to the beach. the wife is supposed to get the food. the husband takes the charcoal, and the kids get their choice. -- toys. you will get there and have fun and everybody has a job to bring things back and everybody is happy. you did not forget the dog or the car keys or anything else. it is the same thing here. we are processing payloads through the facility. the horizontal facility, the vertical facility and that each one of these facilities we have to look out for what we do from day one to the day that would lunch.
>> roberto rayos has worked himself up to a position of responsibility. >> it is our job to work on that plan and it is our job to implement it. we are the ones that are going to be getting on people if the job is not done on time because management is on us to get the job done on time. >> what made you want to come in to work here? >> i guess it all started many years ago when i used to see rockets take off. my home was in el paso, texas, and after the war we used to see that germans assemble and launch rocket ships, and the rocket ships used to be taken out of town on a little dirt road in east el paso, west el paso, and they used to have the rockets on flatbed trucks. as you see them early in the morning, and we would go out and we would see them in the movies and by 3:00 you would see a vapor drill going up in the sky,
and that was most unusual. it looked rather fascinating. we read stories where we felt that eventually we would be going up, and when that happens, i made my mind up that i was going to be on it. i think that's as an opportunity for people that want to do things. george low one said the greatest asset that nasa had was its people, and by exposure to nasa and my working elements and various working associations i have, i find that nasa has had very dynamic people that want to do things. the can-do attitude, show me something and i will get it done, and i think anybody, boy or girl, person with the right attitude and willingness to do a job, there is always a premium on a person that is able to accomplish a job forever. for nasa or anywhere else. >> this area is over here.
>> the reason i find it so exciting is because of the fact that due to the nature of nasa's work i really feel that i am involved in an agency which is at the forefront of technology. we are doing things which have never before been done before in the history of mankind and perhaps will never be done again. 810 w transmitter -- what is -- a 10 watt transmitter, which is a transmitter with slightly
more power than a christmas light. it uses -- we were able to communicate from the distance at which jupiter was at what we encountered it, 900,000,000 km. >> how did you get a transmitter of that size? it is such a small transmitter to communicate over such a large distance. >> it is an indication of the type of technology nasa as buildup in order to do these things. >> mr. ramos, is there any opportunity for creativity and your job here at nasa? >> definitely, there is. i feel i am in a unique situation. nasa is doing things that have never been done before, so therefore there is a lot of creativity. ♪ >> [indiscernible] >> people can think back 20 years ago and perhaps laugh at some of the things that buck rogers and other science fiction characters used to do and we can see them coming into being now. ♪ >> engines stopped. >> some of the things -- one of the obvious ones is putting a man on the moon. that is one of the things that is a combination of nasa's technological efforts.
>> [indiscernible] >> the eagle has landed. >> we copy on the ground. you have got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. >> were you interested in outer space before you came to this area? >> this might sound silly to you but i have wanted to be an astronaut since i was about eight if the truth be known. and i have come to about as close to it as i might get having been in that simulation as a payload specialist. i might still have a chance, because now i am the principal investigator on a series of lead experiments, and in the shuttle program the plan is to choose one investigator from all of the teams and experiments accepted on the flights to go on board as a payload specialist. a one-shot astronaut. >> why would you want to be an astronaut? >> that is a strange question. why do you want to be a director? i would to be an astronaut because i want to go outside the world and looked down at it. i went to look out the window
and i would you know what it feels like. it just struck me as something i would like to do. it is like when you were a little kid, you thought that if you would run far enough or fast enough and you spread your arms out you could fly. in space, you can. >> it is a way people learn to look at these things, and those things are what make things easy and what make things difficult. anything that you think is easy is easy. anything you think is difficult is difficult. >> the people who work at nasa are people who think positively no matter how difficult or unique the challenge.
as you know, mr. gregory, there was a time when there were not any minorities or women involved in the space program. tell me, at that time did you feel there was any doubt in your mind that you would not get in? >> i do not think so. i have been in this situation many times before. i was one of the first blacks in integrated schools in washington, d.c. in 1955. i was the only one in my class at the academy. i was the only one here, the only one there, and i thought that if i really wanted to do it and i worked hard to do it and prepared myself that if there were a barrier, it would have to be a big one to stop me. >> the people who work at nasa are people who think positively no matter how difficult or
unique the challenge. >> that is hard to answer in those terms. i never thought of -- i really thought of whether the things i was trying to do it where hard or simple. that does not seem to matter to me a whole lot. what matters to me is that whatever you do, do it well, and that can be any job, any class at any level, whatever task you choose to do. do it well because you will only get a return for doing that if you have done it well. >> the people who work at nasa are people who think positively no matter how difficult or unique to the challenge. >> identify what you want to do and go straight forward and be willing to sacrifice and ignore these forces that try to limit you and divert your efforts. ♪
that's a, the fable of nasa with their many skills, areas of interest make it to places where dreams come true. >> did you do that? that is really neat. >> this afternoon, dr. schneider is visiting to look at our data acquisition and data systems. >> people from all over, men and women, every color, race and religion, people who demonstrate daily the ability of human beings to work together closely, cooperatively, a group of people whose commitment and support of one another in their work is very high. a group of people who on this planet we call earth, reveal the human species at its very best.