During 12 years at the nation’s preeminent aerospace research laboratory, Eugene H. Trinh held on to a romantic notion of space travel.
And after the researcher at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena was selected Thursday by NASA to fly on a space shuttle flight, Trinh mused about how Earth will look from orbit.
“The environment in space is going to be much different from my laboratory office here in Pasadena,” he deadpanned.
Trinh, 40, of Culver City, will serve as a payload specialist on the first U.S. microgravity lboratory mission in 1992. Trinh, will fly on the shuttle Columbia and take part in a study of fluids and organic materials in a low-gravity environment.
Trinh was born in Saigon, grew up in Paris and came to the United States to study mechanical engineering and applied physics, in which he holds a doctorate from Yale University.
As for being the first Vietnamese-American to fly on the shuttle, Trinh said his ethnic background had no bearing on the work at JPL.
“This is all science,” he said. “It’s all business.”
But as he excused himself to do some “hardware calibration” to prepare for the shuttle flight, he mellowed a bit.
“My being in space might be of some value for other Vietnamese-Americans--if I don’t blow it too bad.”