ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Growing up on a farm in the Northeast, Story Musgrave thought he’d be on a farm the rest of his life.
He ended up flying on six space shuttle missions for NASA and earning six academic degrees to date during his 81 years on planet Earth.
Musgrave visited the Museum of Aviation Oct. 13 to help kick off a three-year NASA STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) grant which will serve students in Houston, Bibb, Peach and Twiggs counties.
Musgrave still owns a farm, but he has also been to war, became a pilot, a trauma surgeon, a college student and a father.
He joined the Marines and was a crew chief during the Korean War.
“I was 18 years old, Private Musgrave, assigning planes to go to war,” he said.
Musgrave isn’t shy about sharing his humble beginnings because his life experiences allowed him to use his talents to propel his careers.
“I come from real life. I had to survive,” he said.
In his early days, Musgrave baled hay on his family’s farm. He could operate and fix the tractors and machinery at a very early age.
Eventually, that survival instinct led the high-school dropout to crew chief and then to driving tanks. He ultimately went to Syracuse University where he convinced a dean to let him enroll.
His degrees include a bachelor of science, a master of business administration and computer programming from UCLA, a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Marietta College, a doctorate in medicine from Columbia University, a master of science in physiology and biophysics from the University of Kentucky and a master of arts in literature from the University of Houston.
In 1967, he was selected as a scientist astronaut by NASA. He has spent 1,281 hours, 59 minutes and 22 seconds in space, according to NASA’s biography.
He has flown on the Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour and Columbia space shuttles. He was part of the first Hubble Space Telescope servicing and repair mission.
One of Musgrave’s passions is teaching students to use STEM to solve problems.
“STEM is a great thing to do, but it takes human experience and human activities,” he said.
During a brief visit with Starbase Robins students, Musgrave fielded questions such as, “How do the stars look in space?” and “How much does the spacesuit weigh?”.
On the ground, the spacesuit weighs 480 pounds while the stars and constellations don’t look the same in space as they do on earth, he told the children.
He encouraged teachers to find a student’s passion and grow the child according to those appetites in order to inspire and lead them to a brighter future.
“You are preparing for a future that doesn’t exist,” Musgrave said.