How, What and Why

  • How many times have you flown to space?   I’ve been on two missions – STS 109 and STS 125.
  • What were the names of the shuttles you flew on?   The Columbia (on its last mission before the accident) and the Atlantis.
  • How many times did you walk in space?   I did four EVAs.
  • What did you do while you walked in space?  First I did my job fixing the Hubble Telescope, then I took a few minutes to gaze upon the incredibly beautiful planet Earth that we’ve been blessed with to enjoy and take care of.
  • How do you go to the bathroom in space?  Very carefully!
  • What was the scariest thing about going into space?  My first take-off (STS 109) was terrifying. No amount of practice truly prepares you for the physical reality of take-off and the in-the-moment realization that you’re leaving the earth at an astounding rate of speed.
  • How do you sleep in space? We had something like a sleeping bag that we’d attach to the wall. In order to keep your head from floating off your pillow while you’re sleeping, we had a cloth band that went over our forehead and was attached to the back of the sleeping bag.
  • What was the hardest thing about training to be an astronaut?  There was lot’s of hard work, but one of the hardest things for me was learning how to swim well enough to pass the swim test! When I was accepted by NASA I couldn’t swim very well, and most of our training was going to be under water in a gigantic pool…this could be a problem…but I got help, practiced, and got through it.
  • Why did you want to become an astronaut?   As a little boy I watched Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon, and it made a huge impression on me that never went away. It made me want to be an astronaut. Then as an adult I decided to apply because I wanted to be part of the team that explored space for the benefit of the world, and to experience what it would be like to view the Earth and the universe from space. I wasn’t disappointed, I think being an astronaut is the best job ever, at least for me.