Brendan O’Shaughnessy | November 8, 2016
Two-thirds of the way through the longest open-ocean leg of a circumnavigation of the world, Notre Dame alumna Dava Newman suddenly lost control of her 47-foot sailboat. She and her husband discovered that the steering system failed because all the hydraulic fluid had leaked from a crack in a copper hose.
It was about 1 a.m. and both were exhausted. They were stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean 1,000 nautical miles from the nearest land.
“It was definitely our Apollo 13 moment,” said Newman, the deputy administrator of NASA, referring to the aborted moon mission in 1970 when engineers innovated a return to Earth using only the materials on board the space capsule. “You have to get creative when in a crisis.”
That lesson in surviving a harsh environment has served Newman well in her leadership of NASA and its “horizon goal” to put people on Mars in the 2030s.