When I look back on my most recent space shuttle flight, I am convinced that my problems were most severe and uncommon. I have every right to be paranoid. There are simply times, exact and specific, when things go consistently against you; when bad luck is the only luck at hand; when, try as you might, you just can't change bad luck into good. And it seems that no one, or nothing, can really help you. I was blessed with a crew of four trained, seasoned and talented astronauts, but even their collective dedication and loyalty couldn't help me overcome the crisis and disasters I encountered.
Merit and excellent qualifications were the basis on which my crew of astronauts and I were selected to command the Atlantis II space shuttle Mission, which had been originally scheduled to be second in line to launch five months before the terrible Challenger tragedy occurred in January, 1986, killing all seven of its crew-six astronauts and one schoolteacher-just one minute and thirteen seconds after a rather successful liftoff from its Cape Canaveral launch pad.