MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week marks 60 years since people’ first journey into area. We’re additionally celebrating over 20 years of steady human presence aboard the Worldwide House Station.
Just a few days in the past, solely WCCO was given a particular alternative to talk with two of the 240 astronauts who’ve lived on the ISS, representing 19 international locations. One in every of them is Mark Vande Hei, who has Minnesota ties. He graduated from Benilde-St Margaret’s Excessive Faculty and St. John’s College in Collegeville.
He instructed us WCCO has fond recollections of Minnesota and that it ready him for his life as an astronaut.
Astronaut Shane Kimbrough was additionally alongside for the interview.
WCCO’s dialog with Mark and Shane additionally included questions from first-grade by fifth-grade college students from Minneapolis’s Whittier Worldwide Faculty.
Beneath is a transcript of the interview, which has been edited for readability:
Mike Augustyniak: Gents, I’ve to let you know, that is the fun of a lifetime for us to have this chance to talk with each of you. However Mark, I wished to ask you: how did your basic curiosity in area flip into “I’m going to be an astronaut?”
Mark Vande Hei: I at all times thought area was this wonderful space to discover. And I assumed it will be fantastic to do it. I by no means ever thought that I’d develop into an astronaut. I assumed that you just sort of needed to be a superhero to be an astronaut. And I really feel like I used to be simply extraordinarily lucky I the military put me in place in order that when any person requested me if I wished to work at NASA, I may say sure. And that simply led to having this job of being on the area station proper now. I’m generally very puzzled by the truth that I really bought this far.
MA: I imply, loads of achieved folks, together with me, struggled with one thing in highschool. Despite the fact that I’ve loads of physics and math background, I actually struggled with chemistry. And but right here I’m as a meteorologist. I ponder if each you and Shane had an analogous expertise like that perhaps in highschool or in school? And if that’s the case for those who guys may give some recommendation to different college students who perhaps really feel the identical manner.
Shane Kimbrough: I believe all of us have struggled. And that’s a part of the rationale we’re right here is that we weren’t afraid to fail. We strive issues generally that we weren’t excellent at. However we simply labored actually exhausting. We discovered the way to have actually good habits by simply working exhausting at issues we weren’t nice at. Clearly, we like issues that we’re good at, that’s simpler for everyone. However among the issues that we weren’t so good at all through our careers, we’ve gone after simply in order that we may develop our studying and develop our background. In order that’s what I’d inform people attempt to do issues that perhaps you’re not so nice at. And simply work actually exhausting. And also you’ll you’ll be amazed on the doorways that open up for you.
MA: I do know that every of you will have walked in area, are you able to clarify what that feeling is like the primary time that you just ever step exterior?
MVH: You recognize, I’m really going to clarify the third time I went exterior, I’m going to attempt to hold this fast as a result of the primary two occasions I went exterior, I went ft first. And I used to be educated to do this within the pool. You recognize, in a pool the place the ground of the pool is simply 5 ft under the hatchway. And as quickly as I got here out, all the things appeared just like the mock-up of the area station that was within the pool. So my consolation blanket was there. However the third time I needed to open the hatch and exit headfirst and there was a time interval after I could- in my restricted discipline of view – see nothing of the area station and solely the earth 240 miles under me. And that was fairly difficult. I needed to positively think about my respiration to remain calm. Despite the fact that I had already spent greater than 10 hours exterior the area station. And the fourth time I assumed oh, this will probably be no drawback. I’ve accomplished this earlier than. I open the hatch and identical precise response got here up. My coronary heart began beating actually quick, it doesn’t matter what. You continue to bought to push by some exhausting issues generally.
MA: In order that’s essentially the most thrilling half perhaps of being in area. However Shane — we received’t inform NASA, I promise — what’s like essentially the most boring or annoying a part of dwelling on the Worldwide House Station?
SK: You see a smiling on a regular basis, proper? I imply, that is unbelievable that we get to do that – I don’t suppose there’s something boring up right here. Our days are at all times completely different. We’re at all times working exhausting on both experiments or upkeep across the area station or understanding ourselves bodily. And I let you know I haven’t been bored but. I’ve been up right here for lots of days. I simply went over 200 days and Mark’s about to hit 200 days right here subsequent week. And so I haven’t had a boring day but.
MA: I discovered a number of future astronauts which have some questions for you. These questions come from first by fifth grade college students at Whittier Worldwide Elementary Faculty in Minneapolis. And we’ll begin with Abdirahman, who requested: How do you sleep whilst you’re floating round?
MVH: Principally, we have now a sleeping bag. Every of us has one and I’d say it’s in regards to the measurement of a cellphone sales space. After I first bought to the area station, I felt like I wanted to be pressed in opposition to the wall to really feel like I used to be in a mattress. However finally I bought actually snug simply floating, disconnected from all the things besides the shoulders in my sleeping bag. And I am going in that room and I simply free float.
MA: I’ve heard that some cosmic rays or or Interstellar radiation can generally trigger flashes of sunshine. In case your eyes are closed. Do you guys ever expertise that whilst you’re attempting to get to sleep?
MVH: Yeah, I’ve skilled that a number of occasions. It’s not each evening and naturally you bought to be alert sufficient along with your eyes closed to truly acknowledge it. It simply sort of seems to be like a spark or one thing like that.
MA: Marvin requested – what do you eat in area?
SK: We eat loads of actually attention-grabbing meals. Loads of occasions it’s the meals just like the army eats. In order that they’re from MREs. So loads of it’s rehydratable. And loads of it, the opposite a part of it’s simply warmth, you understand, we simply warmth it up. The meals lab has accomplished an awesome job on the Johnson House Heart making ready our meals and our menus. And we have now all the things you possibly can think about, from pork chops to hen to beef to seafood and different issues that they’ve in pouches for us. So it’s loads of delicate meals, we don’t get loads of crunchy issues. In order that’s I believe one thing that we miss after we’ve been up right here some time are issues like salads, and lettuce and chips and issues which can be crunchy. We even have Russian meals as a result of we have now cosmonauts on board they usually share with us generally. And that’s actually nice meals. We have now a French and a Japanese astronaut on our flight. So we get some French and a few Japanese meals as nicely. The important thing about area meals is selection.
MA: Torsten needs to know what sorts of experiments you all are doing on the area station proper now?
MVH: Gosh, there are a whole bunch of experiments we’re doing on the area station. We’ve bought experiments that assist us higher put together to discover additional away from Earth than we have now been these days. We’ve bought experiments that assist life on Earth. The truth is, there’s an experiment I spent about 5 hours engaged on immediately. That’s referred to as celestial immunity. And we’ve bought blood cells, I consider, from donors, each younger adults and aged. And we’re utilizing the truth that being in area causes speedy adjustments in our immune methods to assist examine with higher rapidity, how we are able to beneath perceive our immune methods and, and probably leading to drugs which can be which can be capable of assist us out.
MA: Staying secure is is a giant a part of what you might want to do every day up there. So what do you do if there’s a meteor or area particles in your path?
SK: We don’t get that fairly often. It occurs, I don’t know, perhaps a handful of occasions a 12 months on the most. And Mission Management will tell us. After which they let NASA know after which NASA lets us know, normally it’s nicely upfront. We have now a pair choices the place they may transfer the area station out of the best way. There’s one choice if it’s late within the sport, they might simply inform us to go get in a sure a part of the area station or if it’s actually going to be shut and it’s late they’ll have us go get in our autos simply in case one thing hit the area station we may undock after which come house safely.
MA: Alright, one fast final query for Mark — Mark, do you will have any Twin Cities recollections rising up?
MVH: I’ve an amazing variety of Twin Cities recollections: ice skating cross nation snowboarding. I actually would credit score Minnesota winters with began me on the trail for getting snug in excessive environments.