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A Passionate Life.... By Anne Lenehan /Page 6

The family would now move to Houston, with a brief secondment in Reece, TX, while Story completed a year of military jet pilot training - a compulsory part of astronaut training in that era. Competent and dedicated, Story completed that formal training with the highest scores ever recorded at Reece and was awarded the Reece Air Force Base's Commander's Trophy.

Back in Houston for further astronaut training and assignment, all efforts were focused on successful moon landings, after the horrific launch pad fire which claimed the lives of three of NASA's astronauts - Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee and Ed White - early in 1967. The meticulous analysis of systems and procedures meant that astronauts were assigned to various tasks, rather than being trained on all systems. As the Skylab program succeeded the Apollo program, Story became focused on space suit technology and testing, and spacewalking, together with the development of the future space shuttle orbiter where he became involved with systems design and in particular, SAIL, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, which developed the software for the space shuttle.

"This was a marvellous chapter in my NASA history...You really learned the software - the shuttle only operates on software. My role in SAIL was even more important than what I did in spacewalking, it turns out. It was very, very critical."

Having joined NASA in 1967, it would be 16 years before Story flew in space for the first time, not having been appointed to a flight during the Apollo program. Story would become backup Science Pilot for the first Skylab mission - America's first orbiting space station - and then Capsule Communicator for the second and third Skylab missions. The last manned Skylab mission ended in 1974, but it would be 1981 before the first space shuttle mission STS-1 was launched, with Story slated to take his place on STS-6.

The mission immediately prior to Story's first spaceflight, STS-5, was allocated the testing of the new space shuttle spacesuits, however technical problems while in orbit meant that the astronauts never left the spacecraft during the mission. As luck would have it - so many people believed - Story, together with Don Peterson, got to test the new spacesuits, which he had helped to develop - on the next mission.

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