NASA Flight Director Explains How To Stay Calm In A Crisis

Cool, Calm And Collected Former NASA flight Director Paul Hill had a high–stakes job managing various space shuttle and International Space Station missions for the program. Tactics include focusing...

Cool, Calm And Collected

Former NASA flight Director Paul Hill had a high–stakes job managing various space shuttle and International Space Station missions for the program. Tactics include focusing on the data, tamping down on impulses and retaining the level of fear to help calm win the day.

Looking back on the day in 2001 on an incident that happened when he directed a flight from NASA’s control room, Hill thinks about how everyone could have been killed if he had not remained calm. In 2001, space shuttle Discovery was docked at the International Space Station (ISS) when the team realized that two of the cooling loops were not working because ice had formed inside the system. The ice breaking could have caused damage to the computers of the shuttle, which would have been catastrophic because the astronauts would have been stranded in space. Hill employed the strategies that he was taught in order to stay calm and think clearly.

“Everyone tends to become more focused and calm and they’re working through the data, talking to each other and making decisions,” he said.

The mission control team woke up the crew and helped them work through the steps to run the cooling loops at a hotter temperature in order to melt the ice. The Discovery space shuttle was able to complete its mission and land safely due to the calm and rational thinking of Hill and his team.

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