The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut
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What’s it like to travel at more than 850 MPH, riding in a supersonic T-38 twin turbojet engine airplane? What happens when the space station toilet breaks? How do astronauts “take out the trash” on a spacewalk, tightly encapsulated in a space suit with just a few layers of fabric and Kevlar between them and the unforgiving vacuum of outer space?
The Ordinary Spaceman puts you in the flight suit of U.S. astronaut Clayton C. Anderson and takes you on the journey of this small-town boy from Nebraska who spent 167 days living and working on the International Space Station, including more than forty hours of space walks. Having applied to NASA fifteen times over fifteen years to become an astronaut before his ultimate selection, Anderson offers a unique perspective on his life as a veteran space flier, one characterized by humility and perseverance.
From the application process to launch aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, from serving as a family escort for the ill-fated Columbia crew in 2003 to his own daily struggles—family separation, competitive battles to win coveted flight assignments, the stress of a highly visible job, and the ever-present risk of having to make the ultimate sacrifice—Anderson shares the full range of his experiences. With a mix of levity and gravitas, Anderson gives an authentic view of the highs and the lows, the triumphs and the tragedies of life as a NASA astronaut.
outside of your “spaceship,” you can be made neutrally buoyant, neither sinking from nor rising to the surface. It is simulated microgravity. For a space shuttle mission that had planned spacewalks, ten hours of underwater training were required for each hour spent working outside. Since most shuttle flights were less than two weeks long, everything was precisely choreographed to accomplish many things in a short time. Counting on almost perfect execution, every last detail was “pounded flat” to
Cape for a late afternoon flight back to Ellington Field in Houston. All of us had been awake for almost twenty hours, and the standard postlanding data tests and a press conference had left us exhausted. All? Did I say all? I meant except for Paolo Nespoli and me. As an ISS crewmember with long-duration status, I was the subject of several experiments that required data gathering sessions immediately after landing, and two of those required data the subsequent day, or “L plus 1.” My Italian
a speech by one of the university’s football team staffers, a gentleman named Mikado Hinson. Hinson served in the position of campus director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the University of Houston. As he stood in front of the small group of “invitation only” athletes and their parents, he began to relate the various aspects of his job. His excitement was evident as he told of working with young athletes on the Houston campus and throughout the nation. Wrapping up his time with us,
as the train passes and moves away. The pitch of the horn noticeably drops as the sound fades into the distance. Fellow astronaut, physicist, and bioengineer Mike Gernhardt, in the role of a principal investigator, was attempting to use the Doppler effect to help measure and possibly “fend off” decompression sickness and its potentially fatal effects in both scuba divers and spacewalking astronauts. After each scuba dive we would don an apparatus designed to measure the flow of nitrogen gas
accommodate his condition. With each passing hour, it became obvious the sickness was not going away. In an effort to keep him functioning, we cut our daily doses of hiking short and made camp in early afternoon in the hope that adequate rest would allow him to recover in the expected two to three days. Koichi, destined to become the first Japanese commander of the ISS, was still far from well the day we were scheduled to climb the top of the 12,192-feet Wind River Peak. Given this was a