ACP Welcomes Award-Winning Astronaut and Descendant to Canal Legacy
PANAMA CITY, Panama, October 2, 2008 – NASA Astronaut Dr. Scott Parazynski presented the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) with a Panama flag and collection of photos in honor of his ancestor, Colonel David DuBose Gaillard, and Gaillard’s contribution to the original construction of the Panama Canal. In an official ceremony at the Miraflores Locks with Panamanian Environment Minister Ligia Castro de Doens and U.S. Ambassador to Panama Barbara Stephenson, Dr. Parazynski presented the items – which were flown into space during his most recent mission – to ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta for showcase at the Miraflores Visitors Center.
In the early part of the twentieth century, acclaimed member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Gaillard was charged with the monumental task of cutting through the Continental Divide in Panama. The treacherous nine-mile strip of mountainous terrain, now known as the Culebra Cut, was later renamed Gaillard Cut in honor of Colonel Gaillard who died in 1913 before the Canal project was completed. Descendant to Colonel Gaillard, Dr. Parazynski took a VIP tour of the Canal with Mr. Alemán Zubieta and commented upon the similarities between space and oceanic advancement in that both require highly skilled experts committed to excellence.
“Like any large undertaking, the Panama Canal for example, with so many dedicated, educated, hard-working people, you have to divide and conquer. Not any one person can know everything or do everything,” said Dr. Parazynski. “These are very critical operations. Huge tankers coming through with very little margin for error and I know that the people here are very professional and take this responsibility very seriously. So the space department is very similar to the Canal.”
A veteran of five space shuttle flights, Dr. Parazynski has logged 1,381 flight hours in a variety of aircrafts and is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Space Flight Medals and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Most recently, Dr. Parazynski received a NASA Space Flight Medal in 2007 for performing an unprecedented spacewalk to repair a space station solar array damaged during the STS-120 Discovery space mission.
About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s Web site: http://www.pancanal.com/.