Astronaut - NASA
Astronauts roundtable : Can astronauts challenge time?
Over the course of his 16-year-career at NASA, Terry Virts piloted a space shuttle and commanded the International Space Station. Virts, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, considers Columbia, Maryland, his hometown. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Harvard Business School. He also was a member of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School class 98B at Edwards Air Force Base in California, and served as an experimental test pilot in the F-16 Combined Test Force there before being selected for the astronaut class of 2000. During his time on the ground at NASA, Virts served in a variety of technical assignments, including as the lead astronaut for the T-38 training jet program, chief of the astronaut office’s robotic branch and lead astronaut for the Space Launch System rocket program. In space, Virts served as space shuttle pilot for the STS-130 mission in 2010, helping to deliver the Tranquility module to the space station, along with its cupola bay windows. He then returned to the station in December of 2014, serving as flight engineer for Expedition 42, and commander on Expedition 43. Virts spent a total of 213 days space and conducted three spacewalks for a total of 19 hours and 2 minutes outside of the space station.
The countdown starts early. At the beginning of the selection to become an astronaut, or even as soon as the idea of making the trip out of the atmosphere crosses the mind of the candidate. Everything is then linked, step by step, success after success, until the ultimate consecration when the contender is part of the team, the one that brings together extraordinary human beings, ready to follow the training mission for an adventure into space. Many months of intensive preparation, with a meticulously planned program, still separate the future hero from the last seconds of the countdown. The astronaut has to keep making progress every day. A few hours before they take off, the crew are placed into quarantine. On the launching ramp, curled up in their seats, they will be propelled into space within the deadline imposed by the launching procedure. In less than nine minutes, they will travel at an orbital speed of 28,000 km / h and will pass around the Earth 16 times each day. The real mission has just begun. Whether it is to ensure proper operation of the instruments, to repair them, to carry out scientific experiments, to communicate with Earth, to interact with their teammates, to sleep, to eat, the astronauts evolve at a certain pace, a pace which is imposed upon them by the trials of space. Although they are very busy, the return to Earth, close to where their loved ones reside can sometimes seem so far away. At each stage, even during an extravehicular exit or the return trip to Earth: is it possible for astronauts to challenge time?