Retired NASA astronaut steps into spotlight at Three Stages in Folsom

By: Laura Newell, Of the Telegraph
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As a new professor in the engineering department at UC Davis, retired NASA Astronaut Dr. Stephen Robinson said persistence is the best goal in life.

Robinson will give a “Distinguished Speakers” lecture entitled “This Side of Impossible – Achieving the Dream of Spaceflight,” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Three Stages at Folsom Lake College. Tickets are $19-$29, with premium tickets available for $39.

“I will be sharing pictures and stories from the (Space) Shuttle that I’ve never shared before,” Robinson said. “I have found that the values of persistence and not giving up in life are important. I will give people surprising views of the space program, and hopefully leave people with questions they never thought to ask before. …I will give people an aspect of the humanity of who we were and how that allowed us to succeed.”

The Sacramento-born Robinson is a 36-year veteran of the space program as scientist, engineer, pilot and celebrated astronaut. He has flown four space shuttle missions, logging 48 days and almost 20 million miles in space, served as Special Capsule Communicator for 15 years, oversaw Sen. John Glenn’s research during his famous shuttle mission, learned enough Russian to be certified as a Cosmonaut and in the “Return to Flight” mission following the loss of space shuttle Columbia, undertook an unprecedented and unplanned repair of the space shuttle Discovery’s heat shield.

In his first public lecture since leaving NASA, Robinson will take the audience backstage inside the nation’s space program.

“The story of Steve Robinson is a story of adventure, courage, perseverance and incredibly hard work,” said Three Stages Executive Director Dave Pier. “His lecture at Three Stages will be the first ticketed speech since leaving NASA and taking up residence here in the capital region. We’re honored to invite him to Three Stages.”

Robinson started working for NASA in 1975 as a student co-op at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

After working as a graphic artist, surveyor, musician and radio disc jockey, he joined NASA Ames in 1979 as a research scientist in the fields of fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, experimental instrumentation and computational scientific visualization. While at NASA Ames, Robinson earned Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Stanford University.

After 12 years of rejection from the NASA Astronaut program, Robinson was selected as an astronaut in December 1994. He held a wide variety of technical assignments within the Astronaut Office, including testing space shuttle flight control software, developing onboard computer and flight crew equipment and helping to develop the International Space Station robot arm.

Robinson has flown on four space shuttle missions and has served as a backup crew member for the fourth crew of the International Space Station.

“It has been a privilege to have been able to work for NASA,” he said. “It was hard to leave, but now I am a professor at UC Davis and this is my ultimate job. I always intended to do this, I just got sidetracked. So I think I have been preparing my whole career for this job. …I think that if a young student has a passion, it is important to protect and encourage that passion. …I am really happy to be back in my home territory and am very excited to be sharing my stories with everyone at Three Stages.”

For more information and tickets, visit