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'YAAAAAHOOOOOO' … an experienced astronaut remembers his first moments in space



Former NASA astronaut dr. Don Thomas, who will be speaking in Durban next week, remembers his first moments in space.

Durban – Former NASA astronaut dr. next week as part of the world celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Hoping to inspire the "Mars generation", Thomas said that he arrived in the country this week for the Living Maths Space Tour 2019: "I & # 39; I am confident that the first astronauts on Mars today could be among the learners.

For the man whose first launch took place in July 1994, entering space for the first time was the most memorable moment in his life.

"After four years of training, it was time to fly into space. About three hours before the start I was strapped on board the Space Shuttle Columbia. I lay on my back on a lumpy parachute and although I did not feel very well, I did not care a bit.

"It felt like I was in the simulators of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and I had to remind myself a few times that this was not a simulator, but the real thing I was into Six seconds before taking off, our three main engines ignited and reached full power.

"Then both of our big and powerful solid rocket boosters set fire just at the time of takeoff and we set off. I was strapped tight to my back and could hear the roar of the engines and feel the tremors and vibration as the engines reached full power.

"The lift off felt like someone had his hand in the middle of my back and pushed me straight up. When I felt that shock, I knew I was finally on the way to space. After having dreamed of being an astronaut for nearly 33 years, it was my turn and on my way. The first few seconds I screamed in my helmet "YAAAAAHOOOOOO".

"Eight minutes later, the engines stopped on time. It was incredibly quiet. I strapped on and floated out of my seat. I had made it into space. "

And when he saw our world "from a distance", Thomas said that while he saw many images of Earth from outer space, the most surprising thing about my stay in space was the beauty of the Earth.

"I thought I knew pretty well what to expect when I looked back from space at my home planet with my own eyes. But I was totally wrong. When I looked out the window for the first time, I gasped at the beauty below.

"The sky in space was much darker black than I had ever seen before, and this blackness was a light blue, gossamer layer that surrounded our planet. I looked at our atmosphere. It was an incredibly powerful moment and perspective that anyone on planet Earth could experience for themselves.

"The images we take from space in space simply do not do it justice. It's a million times more beautiful when you look at it from space with your own eyes. It is a powerful and life-changing event to see the earth from above. "

In the half century since man landed on the Moon for the first time, Thomas emphasized that there had been so many successful missions, including" all Mars rovers and lander, New Horizons journey to Pluto and beyond, Osiris Rex, the Hubble, the James Ellis Telescope, and the next generation rockets, the Space Launch System.

Contains eight lunar orbit ministations and one mini-station until 2024.

He said Nasa is building bigger and better rockets with commercial partners, as well as reusable, 3D-printed vertical rockets and boosters. Along with massive projects like SKA going online and the growing commercial space industry, Thomas predicted that this would be one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

But it was Mars, as Thomas said the next big step into space.

"In the next 20 to 30 years, we were able to see the first humans on Mars realistically. Nasa's goal is to send astronauts to Mars and bring them back safely. I am confident that the first astronauts to Mars today could be among the learners. "

19659005] He said it was difficult to live on Mars. It has a largely carbonated atmosphere, extreme weather temperatures and temperatures well below zero. NASA has established sites around the world where scientists are exposed to extreme conditions.

"The complexity becomes even more complicated when you realize how far away Mars is and how difficult it is to return to Earth in an emergency. We hope to identify all the major issues that future astronauts could face on Mars. You can never over-prepare. "

These include topics such as living in isolation, growing food, generating oxygen from water on Mars, generating electricity and managing emergencies.

He said Earth is a "Goldilocks Planet" because it has the perfect distance from the Sun. "We've found a few planets that fit this description, but they're too far away to explore." change, while no space mission involves one or two astronauts. Behind every mission are thousands of people. "

Thomas was in Cape Town this week and will be on Monday (University of Pretoria) and Tuesday (STREAM Lab of the Sakhikamva Foundation, Lanseria Airport) and at the Roedean Senior School in Johannesburg.

He will give his talk on Friday in Durban at St. Mary's Diocesan School for Girls.
Tickets cost between R50 and R100. Further information can be found at www.livingmaths.co, / living-maths-space-tour /.

The Independent on Saturday


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