Hero Pilot Gives NASA Safety Tips

Hero Pilot Gives NASA Safety Tips
Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger (right) speaks with the International Space Station’s Expedition 22 crew while visiting the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Jan. 4, 2010. (Image credit: NASA TV)

When itcomes to astronauts, NASA is all about safety but the space agency was notabove taking some pointers this week from hero pilot Capt. Chesley ?Sully?Sullenberger, who made headlines when he landed his U.S. Airways passenger jetin New York?s Hudson River last year.

Sullenbergerspoke to astronauts and employees of NASA?s Johnson Space Center in Houston at the request of the center?s Safety and Mission Assurance Office. He also got achance to tour the center?s space shuttle flight simulators and speak with astronautsaboard the International Space Station.

On Jan. 15,2009, Sullenberger was at the helm of an Airbus A320 that took off from New York City?s La Guardia Airport en route for Charlotte, N.C. The jetliner was carryingfive crewmembers and 150 passengers when it hit a large flockof birds just five minutes after takeoff, damaging the engines and forcingSullenberger to land the plane in the Hudson River.

Sullenbergerand his crew have been lauded ever since for their actions, which brought all155 people aboard to safety.

Japaneseastronaut Soichi Noguchi told Sullenberger that it was an honor to speak withthe hero pilot from space.

?Weactually watched the news the other day and saw you on the float for the RoseParade,? said Noguchi, who represents the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency onthe station?s five-man crew.?

Sullenbergerwas Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade on Jan. 1 and tossed the opening coinbefore the kickoff of the 96th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, Calif.

?This hasbeen a real surreal year for us and this is yet another wonderful opportunitythat we thought we?d never have,? Sullenberger radioed the space station crewfrom Mission Control.

Sullenbergermarveled at how astronauts in space can get any work accomplished at all, giventhe viewof Earth 220 miles down below.

?If it wereme, I think I would have my face up against the glass for quite a while andhave a hard time doing any usable work,? he told the astronauts, who thankedhim for his service and praise.

During histalk at NASA, Sullenberger attributed the safe landing of his crew andpassengers on that fateful day last year to proper training, communication anda steadfast belief in each other. Safety, he added, plays a role in every cultureand hinges on individuals acting with integrity.

Sullenbergeradded that the American space program has a special place in his heart, onethat dates back to his childhood.

?My fatherlet me stay home from school and watch the Mercuryflights,? he said. ?I have a great appreciation for what NASA does, butit?s amazing to me now to know the lengths I had to go to get an invitation tospeak here.?

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.