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Inspiring People

Inspiring Perspective: Wife of an Engineer—Barb Cheuvront

    Aimee Meyer


Barb Cheuvront, wife of Allan Cheuvront, Stardust-NExT spacecraft team chief at LMSS

What is it like to be married to a spacecraft engineer? It is exciting with never a dull moment! However, it helps to have dreamed of going to space as a young girl when girls were not supposed to dream of such things—the role models in space were men. To be married to someone that loves to dream of space and to share that dream is amazing. I have learned to count on movies being interrupted by the beep of a pager, plan holidays around a spacecraft maneuver, and, huddled together in the middle of the night, watch the command center from a distance—all to be shared as he turns to smile—success!

How often does your dinner conversation concern the miracle of not only encountering a comet, but actually bringing a capsule back to earth with real particles from space? People’s mouths drop open when they hear what is normal conversation in our house—something that we accept as not only commonplace, but unique, miraculous, and amazing. To watch our children and grandchildren truly grasp the concept of intercepting a moving target that you can not actually see is mindboggling. It is kind of like trying to swoosh a basketball through a hoop with your eyes closed and shooting from two blocks away. I chuckle as our grandchildren naturally assume that any spacecraft that they see in a picture book or on a movie must be the same one that Papa flies.

People do not understand the engineering and day-to-day planning that is involved in the success of a mission—they assume that anyone involved in space must be an astronaut. Not understanding the passion and excitement that these men and women share in the exploration of space, most people can not comprehend how a group of men and women, far past their childhood, will sit in a room and wait patiently (even skipping lunch) until they are invited into a room to actually look at the long awaited for particles that have been brought back from space.

When asked for his autograph by teachers, knowing that he has actually been an integral part of the success of the mission, they do not understand that this humble man, my husband, is embarrassed. They do not see the excited “little boy” that I live with that spent a life time dreaming of going into space and now is able to live this dream through a spacecraft called Stardust. Just when it was thought that the Stardust spacecraft had completed its mission in 2006, scientists saw an opportunity to task it with an add-on mission of encountering a comet—not to bring back particles from space, but instead to take images of a comet's crater created by the Deep Impact space mission earlier in 2005!

It is not about the science, it is about the journey. The science is exciting because of what is potentially learned about space and the future of man. It is amazing that this unique team has come together again to go where no man has gone before—the little spacecraft that does not give up and the team that also does not give up. They are not deterred by the impossible task at hand—it is not about the swoosh in the basket, it is about reaching the basket at all.

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