Truelove’s NASA Dream Envisioned in 1st Grade

Danny Truelove recently assisted in the NASA retrieval of the Artemis I space capsule after its return to Earth. The retrieval crew is pictured above with the capsule in the background. Truelove is located directly to the right of the flag.

Submitted  photo


Danny Truelove, a Herscher High School 2006 graduate from Buckingham, recently assisted in the NASA retrieval of the Artemis I space capsule after its return to Earth.  

Truelove, a deep-sea diving medical technician for the Navy, is part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit 1.

According to Truelove, who is stationed in San Diego, Artemis I was launched with the largest rocket ever used. The unmanned aircraft capsule then traveled around the moon and returned to Earth.

It re-entered the atmosphere at an angle, skipping along similar to a rock skipping across a pond, thereby allowing the capsule to reduce its speed before re-entry. 

This re-entry preserves its heat shield to allow for multiple uses of the capsule. The new polymer used for the tiles can be heated to 5000 degrees and cools immediately.

Truelove was the first person to touch the capsule after its return to Earth. The Artemis, about the size of two minivans, had to be tested for heat, ammonia and hydrazine fuels before the crew was able to go near it.

The crew then attached a special flotation collar to the Artemis, which the ship, Portland, pulled aboard. 

After all the data from this unmanned flight is analyzed, the Artemis II mission will take place.  Artemis II will be manned and travel around the moon. Finally, Artemis III will be manned and land on the moon. 

According to NASA’s website, Artemis I was, “the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. Artemis I (was) an uncrewed flight that provided a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrated our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.”

NASA continues, “During this flight, the uncrewed Orion spacecraft launched on the most powerful rocket in the world and traveled thousands of miles beyond the Moon, farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown, over the course of about a three-week mission.”

Truelove applied for the mission a couple of years ago after returning from deployment in Bahrain and Jordan.

 Soon thereafter, he began training in a buoyancy lab in Houston with a mock-up of the capsule. He and his crew repeatedly practiced capturing the capsule, and correcting it if it became inverted. 

About his accomplishments, Truelove relates, “It is very important to set goals, strive to achieve them, and stay focused.”

He stresses to his junior sailors to try to be 1% better than they were yesterday, referencing the book, Atomic Habits, which he has read several times. Truelove wants to relate that concept to the newer generation. In addition, he wants them to think critically and think for themselves.

He relates that he owes his success, in large part, to his Reddick first-grade teacher, Sheila Hendrix.

 Hendrix asked her students what they wanted to be when they grew up, and Truelove wrote the word “NASA” on the board. He distinctly remembers that moment. Without that prompt, Truelove states, “I don’t know if any of this would have happened.”