Dreaming of Flying
As a young girl, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper (Hye'-dee Steph-uh-nih'-shun Pye'-pur) dreamed of flying.
Image above: The STS-115 crew has spent years getting ready for their mission. Credit: NASA
"I remember when I was 4 years old, going and flying in an airplane, and I thought that that was the neatest thing," she said. "So I've always had this bug in the back of me that says 'I really want to fly, I really want to fly.'"
She wanted to be a pilot. But she couldn't pass the eye exam. Now, she is about to get a chance to fly higher than she ever dreamed.
"I get to fly in space," said Stefanyshyn-Piper, a member of the crew of the next space shuttle mission, STS-115. She will help build the space station while she is there.
Stefanyshyn-Piper knows what a person can accomplish if he or she works hard. Her parents taught her that a good education is important. Stefanyshyn-Piper loved learning so much, she stayed an extra year at college!
School was not the only place that helped Stefanyshyn-Piper get ready for space. She was in Plast, a Ukrainian scouting group. Stefanyshyn-Piper liked summer camp the most. She learned how to paddle a canoe and hike in the woods. She met people from all over the world.
Scouting helped Stefanyshyn-Piper get ready to fly. She learned how to use maps and compasses. These skills helped her when she joined the Navy. And, being in the Navy helped prepare her to be an astronaut.
"The biggest part of scouting that I use as an astronaut is being part of a team. In scouting, you learn to work as a team to accomplish a goal," she said. "As an astronaut, you are a small part of a very large team to put people in space."
As a member of the STS-115 crew, Stefanyshyn-Piper will help put new solar panels on the International Space Station. The panels will help the space station produce more electrical power.
Image above: The STS-115 crew is scheduled to perform three spacewalks to install a new part on the space station. Credit: NASA
While on the mission, Stefanyshyn-Piper plans to go on two spacewalks. On the first walk, she'll help unfold solar arrays that will provide power to the station. On her second walk, she'll help set up a panel that will cool the station by sending extra heat out into space.
This mission is an important step that will help send humans back to the moon and then on to Mars. Stefanyshyn-Piper said she is excited to be a part of this effort. "Maybe we can learn something that we can bring back here and help solve some of the problems we have on Earth."
David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services