My threshold for thrill-seeking ends at the Cyclone on Coney Island. It’s why astronauts have always captivated me. They are people who have said YES to travelling around the Earth at a top speed of 28,000 kilometers (17,500 miles) per hour; YES to being strapped to a launch vehicle that can consume more than 1.59 million kilograms (3.5 million pounds) of fuel in just 8 ½ minutes; and YES to calling the vacuum of space home for increasingly longer periods of time. They have made a career out of taking calculated risks. And they have worked tirelessly and competed aggressively to do so.
To understand what challenges lay ahead for any future astronaut, consider learning from the people who have been there and done that. We’ve had the privilege of hosting a number of astronauts over the years. If you’re looking to find out what it’s really like, that’s a great place to start.
John Glenn explained the “rumbling and shaking” that occurs during takeoff (29:46). Jim Lovell shared his path from naval aviator, astronaut reject, to one of the world’s first astronauts (1:12:09). The STS-132 crew discussed what’s really scary about takeoff (it’s the elevator, 52:00). Reid Wiseman talked about the struggle of adjusting to weightlessness (18:55).
And in this episode of What’s New in Aerospace astronauts Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoferetti share some of the Earthly comforts they missed most like fruit and showers, among many other things.
The new class will crew future missions to the space station and explore destinations in deep space. And it’s okay if they’re a little scared. As Astronaut Sally Ride said, “All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.”