Retired NASA Astronaut and UH Engineering Alumna Bonnie Dunbar Interviewed for Global Podcast Series


Rashda Khan
Bonnie Dunbar, a UH Cullen College of Engineering alumna, aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.
Bonnie Dunbar, a UH Cullen College of Engineering alumna, aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.
Retired astronaut Bonnie Dunbar on the University of Houston campus. Go Coogs!
Retired astronaut Bonnie Dunbar on the University of Houston campus. Go Coogs!

‘To the moon and beyond’ marks 50th anniversary of first lunar landing


The Conversation, an independent and not-for-profit publisher of news, commentary and analysis, is marking the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing with a new global podcast series titled “To the moon and beyond.” In the first episode, Bonnie J. Dunbar, a retired NASA astronaut and UH Cullen College of Engineering alumna, shared her memories of the first lunar landing and what it’s like being in space.

At that time, Dunbar was attending the University of Washington and travelled 30 miles with college friends to watch the Apollo 11 landing on television.

Dunbar, who earned her Ph.D. in mechanical and biomedical engineering from the Cullen College, went on to establish 27-year-long career at NASA. She served as shuttle mission specialist and payload commander for five space flights between 1985 and 1998, soaring into space on the Challenger, the Columbia, the Atlantis and the Endeavor.

Here’s one of the insights she shared on the podcast:

“Looking down at the Earth and then being able to look back out at deep space I think it’s an experience that’s not only physically different, but allows you to have a bigger picture of where we are in our universe. The Earth is very small and we only have a finite number of years on the Earth to make a difference.”

Since her NASA career, Dunbar has devoted much of her time and energy to supporting the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pipeline in the U.S. She served as president and CEO of the Museum of Flight in Seattle and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2013.

From 2013 to the end of 2015, she returned to UH as an academic leader. She served as an MD Anderson professor of mechanical engineering, professor of biomedical engineering, director of the UH STEM Center, director of the aerospace engineering graduate program and director of the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA).

Dunbar joined Texas A&M University in 2016 and serves as a professor of aerospace engineering.

To the moon and beyond is a global collaboration between different editions of The Conversation around the world, hosted by Miriam Frankel and Martin Archer. Besides marking the anniversary, the podcast also looks forward and delves into the future of space exploration.

Department/Academic Programs: 

Related News Stories

5 Cullen College students honored by ASIE

Ankur Agrawal.

The American Society of Indian Engineers and Architects (ASIE) has awarded five scholarships for 2020 to students attending the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering. Each student received a monetary award, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, to further their studies.

ASIE Scholarship Winners 2020

UH grad Walheim continues to plot course for the stars

Rex Walheim, a 1989 graduate of the Industrial Engineering Masters program at UH, is now at the private company Axiom Space after retiring from NASA. The agency noted that he spent almost 36 years in government service, 36 days in space, and 36 hours on spacewalks.

When Rex Walheim first enrolled at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering's Masters program in Industrial Engineering in the 1980s, his goals were literally sky high. At the time, he was a flight controller at the Johnson Space Center and a lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and he hadn't yet flown a vessel himself.