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Donna Shirley

Mars Exploration Program

When I was 12 or so I started reading science fiction. And, I read Arthur C. Clarke's The Sands of Mars, and Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, and Heinlein's books about Mars, and just got completely fascinated with the idea of Mars and going into space and space travel. And so, when I got to college, there really wasn't a space program. I got to college in 1958 and that was the year that Explorer One was orbited, following Sputnik. And so, you really couldn't specialize in space, nobody knew how to do it. And so, I ended up still working on airplanes.
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Donna Shirley

Mars Exploration Program

I was disappointed in a way because I had 25 years of experience communicating with the media and all that sort of stuff, so I was the one that was out in front of the TV cameras. My boss and I, Norm Haynes, were doing that, so that the reporters wouldn't be in bothering the people flying the mission. So, I'm out in front of CNN cameras and all I can see is this little monitor and it's a really hot, bright July 4th day, and so I can't see very well. And the anchor's saying, "What's going on? What's going on? I can't see what's going on! Get me a sunshade! And so I'd see them jumping up and down and I'd say, "Well, they must have made it." And, then we'd hear something on the earphones. So, I was experiencing this kind of vicariously, but I mean, it was just an incredibly emotional moment.
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Donna Shirley

Mars Exploration Program

The lander camera could take pictures of the ramp the rover was coming down. And, there was a young scientist named Justin Mackie, who had figured out how to program the camera to turn, so that it would catch the rover as it was doing things. So, it would make a little -- like a jerky movie. And so, the camera -- the first picture comes back and there's just the ramp sitting there. And I'm thinking, "Oh, my God, the rover didn't get up," or whatever. And then, the next picture and then all of a sudden you see the ramp bend and then the rover comes into view. And then -- so there's six images for it to get down on the ground. And, this guy from Mission Control, Art Thompson says, "Six wheels on soil." And it was just the greatest experience, it was a terrific, really terrific high.
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Alan Simpson

Statesman and Advocate

I loved legislating. So you have to pick what you like. I couldn't be a governor, couldn't be a president. Wouldn't be worth a whit. I'm not an administrator. I loved the hearings. I didn't love them, but I mean you learn from the hearings. And I did the floor management of big bills and I worked with guys on the other side of the aisle who didn't have my philosophy at all. Been there two years and my three ranking members are Ted Kennedy, Al Cranston and Gary Hart. I went to them, I said, "Look, you're all three running for president. I'm not going to hinder your quest, but don't you use this subcommittee for your quest." We made that, and the unfortunate thing in Washington now is people think the word "compromise" means wimp, that you were a wimp. And that's sick. Because if you don't learn how to compromise an issue without compromising yourself, you can't legislate. It won't happen.
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Frederick W. Smith

Founder, Federal Express

By the early '70s when I'd gotten out of the service it was very clear that this new society was coming in earnest. And so, at that point I said, "What the hell, let's try to put it together." And that's how FedEx came to be. And then from that point forward, the requirements for this type of system were so profound and so big, really for the next 25 years to this date we've simply been running just to keep up with the requirements. And that's what led to the hundreds of planes and the thousands of trucks. I wish it was something that I could say I was so smart. It was just like Pogo the Possum said, "If you want to be a great leader, find a big parade and run in front of it." And that's what we've been doing for the last quarter century.
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Frederick W. Smith

Founder, Federal Express

Frederick Smith: I was very convinced that the idea was the central feature of the new economy. That without a system like this, it simply wasn't going to be able to work. So I was, in every sense of the word, a zealot. I mean, I felt very strongly that this needed to be done, that it was something that would be extremely useful to people and that it would make the economy and the society and the system work much better than it would work absent that.
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