In his tiny office at UC Davis, professor Steve Robinson holds up two letters. One is a letter rejecting his application to come to UC Davis as an undergraduate. The other, dated nearly 40 years later, is an invitation from UCD for Robinson to join the engineering faculty as a tenured professor.
“A career in NASA is like this,” Robinson says. “There is rejection, there is failure and, with some persistence, amazing things are accomplished.”
In between the receipt of those two letters, the Sacramento-born Robinson — a 36-year veteran of the space program as scientist, engineer, pilot and celebrated astronaut — has flown four space shuttle missions, logging 48 days and almost 20 million miles in space.
He 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 — perhaps most dramatically — 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, as the nation held its breath.
In his first public lecture since leaving NASA — at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Three Stages in Folsom — Robinson will take the audience backstage inside the nation’s space program. During his multimedia presentation, “I will be sharing pictures and stories from the shuttle that I’ve never shared before,” he says.
Tickets are $19-$29; premium tickets are available for $39. Student tickets (with ID) cost $12. They may be purchased online at www.threestages.net or at the ticket office, 916-608-6888. Three Stages is on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.