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Preflight Interview: Tracy Caldwell Dyson
JSC2009-E-272372 -- Expedition 23/24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson

Expedition 23/24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson participates in a training session in an International Space Station mock-up/trainer in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: NASA

Why did you want to be an astronaut?

A: Why did I want to be an astronaut? Well, anyone that lives out in the desert and stares up at the sky and sees the enormity, its stars, probably wants to go up there and experience that and figure it out, but I think where I became serious about wanting to be an astronaut was when I was a junior in high school, and it was a period of time where there was a lot of talk in newspaper and TV around the world about NASA and what they were doing with their next shuttle mission. It was 1986 and the year that Christa McAuliffe was launching into space, the first teacher to be in space, and I think up to that point I had never really thought about what an astronaut was but that’s partly because they were test pilots to me, they were the guys with “the right stuff,” the Apollo mission astronauts, and I didn’t have any interest in being in the military, so I guess that’s why I didn’t give it much thought, but when I found out about a teacher and I thought, wow: , teachers impact my life every day, and not just one teacher but I have six teachers; my coach on the track team was a teacher, my basketball coach is a teacher. You start to realize that I’ve got something in common with this person, and if a teacher has “the right stuff” and a teacher’s teaching me all day long—I spend more time with my teachers than I do my parents— then it became very interesting to me, so I started to look more into what these astronauts were and I found out that they weren’t just pilots, they were called mission specialists, and these mission specialists were engineers and they were scientists, and I didn’t consider myself much of a scientist at that age, but I was interested in science. I really enjoyed, of all things, chemistry and all the things that it answered like why does water boil, why is the sky blue, what makes a bush a bush, a tree a tree, all sorts of things, and I also learned that at that period of time it was transitioning from the notion of a Space Station Freedom to an international space station and the fact that astronauts had to keep in shape, and they were going to be building this space station. There were all these aspects of this that fit my life-style, and before all that realization, before I knew of Christa McAuliffe and thought about astronauts, I was about to graduate from high school, I was entering my senior year, and my parents had suggested because I was so distraught that I didn’t know that I wanted to do later on in life, they said, well, why don’t you write a list of all the things you like to do. So on that list were things like, well, whatever I do later on in life, I want to be athletic, I want to keep working out; I want to do science; I want to work with tools—I was an electrician at a pretty young age working for my father and I loved working with tools—I was learning languages, started Spanish, I knew sign language, I was pretty motivated to learn a different culture, how to communicate, when I discovered that languages were like that, that it wasn’t like English just using different words; it was culture-based and the meaning of words changed because of that culture’s experiences—anyway, when I looked at that list and then I looked at what astronauts were doing, this seemed like a pretty good match and that was the diving board that I sprang from into college and graduate school and the path that I took to become an astronaut.

And before I get to ask you to tell that whole story, tell me about where you came from. Arcadia, California, is your hometown?

Well, Arcadia’s where I was born...


…and I thought about this: I have lived in so many places in Southern California, and California in general, that I really consider Southern California to be my hometown. There’s the area that I was born, went to grade school, junior high, high school, college, graduate school, post-doc, and they’re all in different places, and when I take a plane, and I fly from Houston to California to visit family and friends, it doesn’t matter where I land, which airport; I can look out the window and tell you exactly where we are. I have a fondness for Southern California even though there’s a lot of freeways and concrete. I love looking at the mountains, I love looking at the ocean, the whole place I consider to be my hometown.

What was it like to look at all of that from 200 hundred miles up?

Cool, even better than on a plane. Unfortunately when we were up there there were some pretty massive wildfires going on in the Central Valley, but it seems to be like that every season for California, but it was great. It was awesome to be able to see so much of Southern California from that vantage point and knowing that I know so and so from there and it’s like looking over your family from a very interesting vantage point as well as a very short duration ’cause you’re not hovering over Southern California, you’re zooming right over it, but that’s pretty neat.

You got a good sense of how then all those places and the people that you met in all those places helped make you the person that you are.

Yes, it does; you start crying if you start thinking about all of that, definitely. I mean, all the way from San Diego up to Sacramento where I’ve spent most of my life, there are—and they know who they are, too—they are people who have shaped my life and have in unexpected ways prepared me to do this.

Tell me about your education and your professional career and how they led you to end up becoming an astronaut.

In general, like I’ve said, my teachers have affected my life throughout. I would have to say, though, when I became interested in becoming an astronaut in high school, entering college, entering graduate school, I wasn’t holding back, I didn’t keep any secrets—I want to be an astronaut. And sometimes you meet people who think that’s, “How quaint; look at that, she wants to be an astronaut.” But you meet some people who are excited about it, and I’d have to say that the people I met who were excited were the right people. Of course you meet people who are like, oh, if you want to be an astronaut you need to do this, you need to do that, but I think God planted enough people in my life that said, you need to just follow your heart, you need to do what interests you. And in a nutshell that’s what I did. If I had to draw the map I took to get to the Astronaut Corps, it’s not typical and each astronaut would show you a different path, but the people who inspired me the most, did it in such subtle ways. I mean, I had a research advisor when I was an undergraduate at Cal[ifornia] State Fullerton who, on my last day in his lab, before I left and went on to graduate school—which he talked me into going to, I didn’t think I was smart enough to get a Ph.D. and he said, oh, you, don’t worry about that, you’ve just got to work hard. Oh, I can do that, I can work hard, but I was afraid of the “being smart” part, and he said, don’t worry about that part, you got that covered, just you’ve got to work hard. And the very last night I was there he brought me to the lab that I helped design and build—he was a new professor—and he took me to an equipment rack where we had all of our components, we had a laser and some other scientific equipment and he said, now just sit there, and he went over to the light switch and he turned off the lights and he had turned on all the equipment, and I was surrounded by blinky lights, and he goes, and he comes over and I’m like, what are you doing, and he says, doesn’t this just seem like the shuttle cockpit? And it was, it was corny but it was, it was awesome and he was so supportive of me during the whole time that I worked for him as a researcher. But I also had a research advisor as a graduate student that believed heartily in what I wanted to do and in all things he gave me such great advice and helped me spot opportunities to grow; not just to experience but to grow. And, like I said, I didn’t think I was cut out to be a graduate student. I didn’t even know what that was. In fact I was, when I was told that I could defer my student loans I thought, now that’s worth going to graduate school for. [Laughs] But I think they gave me a lot of courage and to just be who I was and to give it a shot and, you just can’t get that from self talk; you got to have people, the right people, that influence you and that you respect and that motivate you, and I had a wonderful combination of people, and those are just to name a few.

Now the flying in space part of this chosen career of yours does have its dangers. What is it, Tracy, that you feel we get or that learn as a result of flying people in space that makes it worth doing?

Well, no doubt you get these [points to her eyes] and you get this [points to her head], and these [shows her hands] are connected. We see it a lot of times in our spacewalks, some of the things we have to do and the workarounds, things don’t always go the way you planned and we use the human in the loop to solve those problems. That’s what you have, you have a computer and a robot, all in the same body, and so sometimes you need the human to do those things, not just outside but inside as well. I mean, there’s just no way to go forward in the detail that is required, without a human being involved. That’s kind of the geeky technical side of it, but why should we put humans in space instead of robots? Well, we need the robots, no doubt; got to give the robot its time. The robot is the gutsy one, the one that goes first, the one that checks out, does the reconnaissance mission and comes back and gives us the rudimentary data that we need to then design a little further, to make it habitable for us humans. But there’s no better way to take care of your own environment than when you step back and take a look at it from space. You take the firmest believer in not having humans in space and you launch them and you take them right in front of a window and have them look at that beautiful, plump, pink and blue planet as it turns from sunrise to sunset, and they’ll change their mind. You take someone who doesn’t care about their environment, doesn’t give it a second thought about preserving the world they live in and you take them up there and you show them that and they will be changed. You take on a whole new responsibility, and you realize just how delicate your life is when you’re in space. And we all rely on everybody being careful in space and we rely on people being responsible, and that’s kind of how we’d like our society to be. And when you’re involved in something like this, and the end result is going to space, the lessons that you learn, both personally and individually are as important as what you bring to the community of people that you’re surrounded by, and what I see happening is that as you develop into this astronaut, as you develop into this flight controller, as you develop in this environment of launching people into space, you start to understand the frailties, you start to understand the ways in which you have to be careful, and it has, I think, a direct relationship to how you behave in your everyday life. And that’s not just, there are so many reasons: I think about all of the science that comes out of trying to launch somebody in space, and all of the ingenuity that goes into it and comes out of it, that we wouldn’t have cell phones, satellites, drill motors, cordless batteries, cordless drill motors, just to name a few. We wouldn’t have these things if we weren’t trying to launch people in space and so I think there’s a tremendous number of reasons to have people in space.

You’re a member of the International Space Station’s Expedition 23 and 24 crews. Tracy, summarize what your main responsibilities are and what the overall goals of this flight are.

My main responsibility, I think, is to help maintain our hard-earned space station in space, to keep it running and make it welcome environment for the many who are going to, not only inhabit it but visit it, which there will be quite a few during our increment. And the overview of our increment, it’s hard to say in a nutshell but there’s going to be a number of vehicles visiting us from as large as the shuttle to as small as the Progress, and we’ll see another crew come up, we’ll see a crew leave, we’ll see a crew come up, , during the time frame that I’ll be there, and then we have robotic missions throughout, some jointly with the shuttle, some during our period, when it’s just our increment up there, and then we also have a stage EVA during that time frame, and, of course, we have everyday life.

JSC2009-E-226264 -- Expedition 23/24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson

Expedition 23/24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson participates in an Environmental Control and Life Support System training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: NASA

Now you’ve made a short visit to the International Space Station on a shuttle flight in 2007. What is it that you’re looking forward to about getting to spend an extended period off the planet?

There’s a lot. Just…having a chance to slow down. On a shuttle flight you are so busy, every single day. I remember around Flight Day 10 on my shuttle flight, just thinking, could we sleep in one day? [Laughs] But, no, you’re just up and running every day. I’m looking forward to a more relaxed pace where you can actually enjoy and savor the environment. So much of it flies by on a shuttle mission. I’m looking forward to seeing how I adapt to being in space longer than 13 days, and hands down, the best part about it is being able to look at that view every day and during the time frame we’ll be up there, hopefully, we’ll have a big bay window and much more opportunity to observe this beautiful planet. It really is worth all the effort it takes to get there.

You and your crewmates are going to arrive to join Oleg Kotov, Soichi Noguchi, and T.J. Creamer about a week or so after a shuttle visits and a few more weeks before another shuttle is supposed to visit. How do you expect that you guys are going to be spending these first few weeks on board?

Getting our act together, that’s for sure. I imagine when we first get there Oleg, T.J., Soichi, they’ll be showing me and the guys around, making sure that we are really comfortable with the environment, able to find things, no problem, and start to work as a crew, a six-person crew which here in training we have limited opportunity to do, so I imagine first off it’ll be get used to your new home, and then it will be let’s get ready for the crew that’s coming up and all of the details that we’re going to need to provide and work with them to help make their mission a success.

As you get settled in I think that we look and see that the station assembly is nearly complete and you have a larger crew on board now, and so more crew hours are going to probably be spent on laboratory science, a lot of it dealing with how people can live in that environment and then adjust when they come back home. Tell me about some of the human life sciences experiments that you’re going to be working on for Expedition 23 and 24.

Generally I know we’re looking at how your body changes and adapts to microgravity and all the stresses that you have here on the ground that are missing up there and then the new ones that you encounter. I know a lot of work will be done just using our own body as a laboratory, measuring our heart rate, looking at our heart through ultrasound, measuring bone loss. We’ll also be doing exercise on orbit that will help us to determine the effects of how much we should do before we launch, how much we should do up on orbit to help counter the ill effects of returning to gravity and try to turn that recovery time around much quicker than we have in the past, and I say that from the beginning of the space station much of the information we’ve already gleaned from the first 21 increments before I even get there so we’ve got a wealth of knowledge and we’re just getting smarter about these experiments and what information that we’re starting to kind of home in on and make tweaks to what we’ve already discovered.

New ways of helping people deal with that environment.

Yes, helping us to adapt to the environment as well as prepare for the environment. We’ve realized that, for instance, resistive exercising, where you’re lifting weights—the more you do of that before you experience microgravity, the stronger your bones are; the stronger your muscles are; the better they will fare when you’re in microgravity; the less deterioration that you’ll experience over the long haul. And I think what we’re trying to understand is just how long of a period of time and what do we need to do while we’re there to help minimize the amount of loss both in bone density and our muscle strength and mass. And I think that overall the benefit is obvious from a scientific standpoint, but it also is something that we all enjoy while we’re up there as well, so some of these experiments have a real psychological benefit, maybe a side effect, if you will, in addition to the objectives of the experiment.

Now there are other experiments on board the station where you are not the subject, you’re the operators. Tell me about some of the other disciplines, the other kinds of research, that’s going to be going on during your time on board.

We have a number of experiments having to deal with material science as well as physical science, Earth observations, and biological experiments. Some that come to mind, they range from outside to inside. We’ve got experiments that go outdoors on all points of the station it seems, that are trying to monitor, measure, observe the effects of the space environment: the temperature extremes, the pressure extreme, the particles, the long-duration exposure, and take that information and how can we build better structures in space, on the moon and Mars. And also inside the space station learning, how just from a physical science standpoint how things behave in microgravity, and we’ve seen many videos of what flames do, and what water bubbles do and the effects of microgravity, of the absence of gravity, in a system and how that influences it, where it perturbs it. We’ll be understanding the effects of those things and even, in some cases, measuring that, and it’s fascinating, I think, even if you didn’t have a background in science.

You mentioned before that there are shuttle visits planned for your mission. The first of them is a shuttle mission STS-132, also called ULF4; it delivers a new Russian component to the station; it’s known as Mini Research Module 1. Tell me about that module; what is its new capability for the station?

The MRM 1, it’s going to be a large volume for the Russian segment system. It will be a platform that will take up another component, a miniature airlock, that will then later be installed on another module that will be attached to the Russian segment. It’s a volume that will have a docking port; we’ll be able to dock vehicles to it, as well as be an airlock for the Orlan EVAs, if need be, and it’s perhaps more storage space, which is always precious on board the space station.

Can you tell us a little bit about what it takes for the shuttle crew and for you guys in helping them, to get that installed onto the Zarya Module?

This is going to be a task primarily for our shuttle crew that’s coming up. They’re bringing it, and they’re spending a lot of time with the robotic operations. They’re going to take it out of the payload bay, and they’re going to have to transfer it to the station arm which will be positioned such that it can reach over to the FGB where it’s going to be installed, and it will be the shuttle crew primarily unberthing it out of the shuttle bay and then transferring, both on the shuttle arm and the station arm, and my job on orbit will be to assist them in the station robotic operations.

I understand, too, that you and your crewmates have a lot of work to do during the spring before the first demonstration flight tests of the Dragon spacecraft that’s being developed by the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. Talk a little bit about this new program and what you guys will be doing before and during this first test flight.

For the first test flight that right now is scheduled for our increment, it will come no closer than about two kilometers from the space station, and this is really just to test the avionics. It’s to test the rendezvous capability of this vehicle, and as far as our interaction goes, we’re basically going to be looking out the window and looking for lights on this vehicle to see if we can see it and if it’s where it’s supposed to be. I believe we’re going to send commands, not just commands, to confirm that yes, indeed, our components inside the space station are functioning properly in order to communicate with the vehicle. And then, the next flight of that vehicle will be to actually approach the space station about a distance of 30 meters, and we’re going to use the station robotic arm to actually grapple it and pull it in and berth it to the space station.

And are you going to get to do the berthing?

I understand that if all goes well and it appears during the period of time I’m there that, yes, indeed, I’ll be the one to berth it. Another crew member will be the one to actually track and capture it while it’s in free drift and then once that’s finished and we all can breathe a sigh of relief, then I’ll step in and attach it to the space station.

You guys must have been paying a lot of very close attention to the arrival of the HTV [H-II Transfer Vehicle].

Yes, indeed for many reasons, of just it being the first free-flyer track-and-capture vehicle to approach the space station, the first time we used our huge space station arm to track and capture a vehicle, and to watch, to root for Nicole [Stott] and watch her perform, and she did flawlessly. There were so many reasons to watch this and to support our Japanese partners—they did such a wonderful job preparing this vehicle and seeing it through all of its phases, so, yes, and there’s a little bit of anticipation with the vehicle that we hope will be during our increment.

JSC2010-E-41314 -- Expedition 23/24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson

At the Kremlin Wall in Red Square in Moscow March 19, 2010, Expedition 23/24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson lays flowers in a traditional ceremony prior to her departure for the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final preparations for her launch on the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft to the International Space Station April 2. Photo credit: NASA/Stephanie Stoll

So on that second test flight, when it’s actually berthed to the station, there’s then I suppose the opportunity to go inside.

Absolutely; yes, that’s the whole point. [Laughs] We are going to open up the hatch and there should be a bit of supplies inside, and I have to admit I don’t know the details of what they’re going to store inside, but it will be no less a demonstration of the capability of this vehicle to dock with the space station and to check out all the mechanisms it takes to attach to the space station and just increase the volume of the already massive vehicle in space.

The station now is receiving cargo in vehicles supplied by the Russians, by the Europeans, and by the Japanese. What’s the significance of adding this commercial spacecraft to the mix at about the same time as the American shuttle is nearing its final flight?

Well, it gives us a lot of flexibility, for one thing. It gets more people involved. It gets more people smart on what it takes to perform operations in space. It’s, I think, a lot more complicated than people first consider; and once you get into the real details of planning something like this you realize that not only are there so many facets to discover and to decide upon, but you have a large community that you need to work with and as much of a blessing as it is to be a part of this huge effort, and working with people from all over the world—it is, of course, the most challenging part, sometimes, of this adventure—and so I think the good news is that we get more people involved, and people want to live in space, people want to experience space, and I think this helps open the door to make that happen, to be involved in what we’re doing with the space station. It’s already a program that’s been established, and to get involved in that helps, I think. As I’ve heard it described, the professor and the graduate student analogy, that you have this professor with a lot of experience, and that would be NASA and the International Space Station, and then you have our commercial communities that are trying to improve their systems and to become involved, and they’re the eager, energetic graduate student, the bright up-and-coming student that has great ideas and a lot of innovation, and you merge the two together and it’s really what’s going to take us forward and it’s going to be the stepping-stone to bring space exploration to everyone.

That first rendezvous of the Dragon is slated at about the same time as another Soyuz arrives bringing three new crewmates for you guys, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker, and it’s just a few weeks before scheduled spacewalks. Describe for me what the plan is for spacewalks during the Expedition 23 and 24 stages.

Well, I’m really excited about that because one of those spacewalks will be a U.S. spacewalk; we call it a stage EVA as opposed to a shuttle EVA or a docked EVA. This means, it’s just the space station crew that, participates, and everything from being the spacewalkers outside to being the intravehicular crew member, the IV, the conductor inside, and it’s going to take a lot of coordination also from the folks on the ground, our crew in MCC [Mission Control Center] that are also going to be more integrated into the entire process. So that will be a highlight for lots of us on the increment. Then we also have some Russian EVAs that are scheduled. Those, I understand, have objectives with the MRM and to help get that outfitted from the outside with rendezvous equipment for approaching vehicles, and I believe there are two Russian EVAs, and the EVAs, whether it’s Russian-based or U.S.-based, are a very exciting event but also very serious event. There’s a lot of consequences if things aren’t done right, and so I think crews go into a mode of seriousness of getting things prepared and supporting one another, so I look forward to that period of time, as a crew of six, as we get closer to those events, just helping each other out and preparing to go out the hatch.

What’s the lineup? Who is going to get to go out the hatch?

For the U.S.-based EVA that will be Doug Wheelock and myself, and Shannon Walker will be inside. She will be the one getting us prepared to go out the door in the airlock. She will be our airlock suit IV, as we say, and then on the ground we’ll have Capcom [spacecraft communicator] be the IV for the task and so while Wheels—, we call him Wheels—Doug Wheelock and I are outside performing the tasks we’ll be talking with our Capcom inside, Oscar [Koehler], and he’ll be helping us perform the tasks from the ground.

Could you give me a sense of what kind of work you guys are training to do during this EVA?

We are going to install a [power] data and grapple fixture. We call it PDGF for short, but it’s this gigantic plate that has a pin sticking out of it and that’s what our space station robotic arm attaches to in order to either grab something or become attached to structure, and we need to put one on the FGB and that’s where we will be primarily focused there. Our job is to assemble this PDGF inside the space station. We put it inside the airlock with us and we carefully egress the airlock with it and gingerly carry it with us over to the FGB, and the majority of the time we spend out there, which I believe will be six-and-a-half hours, will be to install it. It’s not just a matter of a few bolts but it carries with it many connections for data and power and communication, but in a nutshell, we’re going to install a PDGF.

You’re looking forward to climbing around out there.

I sure am. I’m looking forward to touching all that structure and hardware I’ve been studying and looking at and knowing that there has been tens of thousands of people involved in making it possible. I remember that being a stunning revelation for me on my shuttle flight as I stared out that window: I would see radiators turn and solar arrays turn and boxes that would become illuminated by the sunlight, and it was a marvel to look out the window and see this incredible space station up close, and you see all the details and the people down on the ground who either designed it or fabricated or came up with the software for it or are in Mission Control sending commands to that very box that you’re looking at and so many of them. To be outside and experience that with nothing more than my visor between me and the structure, and then there’s the whole topic of the Earth going by. I don’t know if that’s going to be breathtaking or tripping me out, but I am really looking forward to seeing that and experiencing that, and that’s all the personal side about it.

There is another shuttle visit that’s expected in the summer, STS-134/ULF 6, which delivers another external logistics carrier and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Tell me a little bit about these new components and, again, what you guys are going to be, whatever extent you’re going to be involved in helping get them installed.

Well, that shuttle flight is toward the end of our increment and the details of our involvement as far as the station crew goes is, I think, still in the development phases, but I can bet we’re going to certainly help with their rendezvous. All shuttle crews, I’m sorry, all station crew members are heavily involved in the rendezvous portion where the shuttle crew does their rotation, their flip, and we take pictures of the belly and of all the tiles on the shuttle to help the team on the ground decide that the shuttle has got damage or not, and once the crew docks to the space station then we’re going to either help them unload what they’ve brought up, any robotic arm operations that involve the space station robotic arm we’ll be there to assist them, and then, of course, their EVAs, when they use the airlock, we commonly will be in the airlock helping them prepare for their spacewalk as well as help them clean up afterwards.

You and Alexander [Skvortsov] and Mikhail [Kornienko] are slated to return to Earth roughly the end of the summertime, just before the arrival of the last space shuttle mission. What are your thoughts about the space shuttle’s place in history and in space exploration history?

That is hard to put in a nutshell. I think while the shuttle certainly has had a long, long history, if you take where NASA started and where we are today, the shuttle is a huge, huge, the largest part of that, and I think, despite the numerous shuttle launches we’ve had, everything single one of them takes your breath away. It never stops taking your breath away. So from just an awe-inspiring standpoint, the shuttle is one of the most miraculous accomplishments, I think, of our country and our world, but when you start to train to fly on one, then you start to realize how complex and intricate this vehicle is and it’s amazing that something so detailed is yet so integrated. It goes from being a rocket to a spaceship to a glider, and what it has to do in between those steps is just as fascinating as what it has to accomplish during those phases of flight, and how everything from the main engines to the air you breathe, it all works together, and it’s like an orchestra. You see, I could go on forever about the space shuttle. It’s going to be hard to see it go, and there’s not going to be another vehicle of its kind that visits the space station and as bittersweet as it is, we realize that it’s time to move on to the next step, that we’re not going to get to the moon or to Mars with the shuttle. But boy, have we learned a lot because of it. We wouldn’t have as much as we have today if we didn’t have the shuttle; that’s just putting it mildly.

Well, let me ask you to look into the future then instead of the past. How do you see human exploration of space advancing in the years to come, and how is the International Space Station contributing to that effort?

I see us moving in the direction of living and working in space, and though we had that with our space shuttle, this is for the duration. There’s not going to be any quick trips. It’s going to be for months and even years from this point forward, and what we’re learning with the space station is just the baby footsteps of what it’s going to take to accomplish that from the standpoint of structures and building vehicles, to how our bodies respond, and what it’s going to take culturally, mentally, physiologically to launch into space and to live there and to explore it, actually explore it, and what do we do when we get there. There’s so many facets of it that the space station is now the stepping-stone for that. To get to the moon and to do what we want to do in order to continue on to Mars, and it’s going to take an effort that’s bigger than just NASA—it’s going to take cooperation from the world to do that—and I think the international part of our space station is the best test-bed for that, and it has been. It’s one of the most amazing engineering accomplishments of our history, of our world history, and it’s been said that nowhere else in our time has there been such a project as large as this in such an uninviting environment that was assembled in space yet developed and constructed here on Earth, in various places. We’re learning a lot about cooperation and that is definitely what’s necessary to go into this next phase, where we start exploring, and gosh, all the science. The science that we’re doing on space station isn’t just fun science, it’s not gee whiz; it’s science with a purpose. It’s a purpose of going on and exploring space and as well as what can we understand better about our own life here on Earth in this unique environment, and that aspect alone, even if we didn’t want to go above and beyond low Earth orbit, just the science aspect of it, what we’re learning from that, and not just what we’re learning, but how it’s shaping minds of the scientists who are responsible for these experiments as well as all the people that support it, and the kids that—from grade school through college—that are being involved or influenced or inspired by this way of thinking—it’s going to shape minds. So we’re going in a lot of directions as I look into the future with the space station.