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View From Saturn Lane | Inside Texas Tech


– I'm Ginger Kerrick, I've worked at NASA for 27 years at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas I am responsible for the operational safety for our crews

I'm also responsible for training our crews, training our flight controllers And then I have a set of folks that do hardware and software testing, and are preparing to reestablish our capability to do launches and landings from US soil When we select a brand new astronaut class, they first go through two years of what we call Astronaut Candidate Training

Once they complete that, then we say that you are a viable candidate to be assigned to a flight, and they kinda wait in line And they wait their turn, and once their number is called, then it's roughly right now, for launching on the Russian vehicle, about a two-year training flow When we get our new US vehicles up and running, it'll be a one-year training flow

But we also have people that are currently waiting to be assigned to lunar missions We were just told by the Vice President that we should have boots on the moon by 2024, so we're developing the training plan for that as we speak – [Man] Beautiful, just beautiful – I didn't have the advantage of ever seeing the first landing on the moon, but I was in production so to say So I was born four months after that, so I always tell people that perhaps my mom stood a little too close to the TV, and that's where the desire to go work for NASA and go back to the moon

So, I think it's great that we're going back When I was five years old, I got a book, and I remember the title, it was called Astronomy in Astronauts And I read that book cover to cover that day, and then I marched in the living room that evening and told my mom and dad that I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life I wanted to become an astronaut, or maybe a professional basketball player They were very supportive instead of just going crazy little girl, you're never gonna be an astronaut

They said all right, let's map out a plan, figure out how to do this (lighthearted music) So my very first day at NASA, my internship, I'm driving down Saturn lane and I'm looking at this big Saturn rocket that they had out there And the sun was rising, right behind it And I almost had to pull over and cry 'cause just even right there, and not even having gone through the front gate, oh my gosh, I am really, really here And then, I got issued NASA badge that day, and I couldn't stand myself

I thought, wow this is gonna be great, I'm finally here The way it works is anybody can apply, you have to have the minimum qualifications, and the minimum qualifications when I applied was a master's degree and one year technical experience They had received 3,000 applicants that year, and had to grade to interview 120, and I was one of the 120, and I was 26 years old So, I went through the interview process and it was a week long at that time, and you had physical tests, psychological tests and medical tests, and then the actual one hour interview But, during the medical tests, they discovered that I had kidney stones

And I didn't know that I had them, I never passed one But, that year, NASA had instituted a new disqualification that if your body shows the ability to form a single stone, it is lifetime disqualification from astronaut consideration So, I was completely devastated, but the head of the Astronauts Selection office helped me secure a permanent position in an area teaching astronauts He says "You know, you can't be an astronaut, but you think like an astronaut, and I think you'd be a good instructor for the astronauts" So, I've been teaching them since 1995

And then, after several years of instructing them and living in Russia with them, I got a job as a flight director So, now I was the boss So, I led a number of missions, so I got to know the crew members very, very well that way, both in their ground training and while they're on orbit, but, I worked in the same offices as them, shared offices with them So, we're really more a family and friends than astronauts, that's what they do, y'know as their job But at the end of the day, my best friend is Peggy Whitson, who spent 665 days in space

They're just normal people that do extraordinary things (lighthearted music) We've been doing a lot of research on the International Space Station right now And we have learned a lot While NASA does not do the best job of communicating to the general public about the advancements that we are making, but there have been medical advancements, technological advancements, that you can see every day that has been a fit in humanity And that's just from going around and 'round the earth

If we go to the moon, and we start learning how to create oxygen, or create fuel out of the soil, there could be other earthbound applications that will help, y'know, promote the human existence But it'll also help us prepare if we would want to take the journey to Mars, it'll give us a good practice bed, that's two to three days away from Earth, versus one to two years away from Earth if something happens So, I'm excited about it, we won't know until we get there, how many benefits will come, but there's, we are already seeing a lot of benefits for humanity just even thinking about going beyond the earth orbit (lighthearted music)

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