So I was gone Tuesday because I was up in Tacoma attending this presentation from former astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger at the Evergreen Tacoma Campus. Afterward, thanks to some handy emails, I got to have lunch with the astronaut and conduct a lil’ interview (along with my friend Kela Kealakai and faculty Dr. Francis Solomon). Below is a recording of that. But also, because I was so dang nervous about talking to a real spacewoman, I totally stuttered and slurred a lot of my words. Bless Metcalf-Lindenburger for actually understanding anything I said during this interview; goodness me I’m a shit journalist. Anyway, here are the questions in case you have trouble figuring out what the hell I said in that restaurant…
1. I read that things always go wrong on a spacecraft. 99% of the ship is working perfectly, but there’s always that 1% where there’s something to fix. I was wondering what was one of the most unexpected, possibly scariest problem that you encountered in the fifteen days you were in space. Was there fear, or were you prepared enough to be like “I can handle this”?
2. Can you talk about what it was like to look out the window and see planet Earth below? But also at the same time I’m interested in what it’s like to look out another window and see Nothing. To see the void. What existential thoughts go through you when you’re looking at the planet, and the abyss?
3. I’m interested in the relationships about teams of people in confined quarters. Whenever I read anything from NASA they’re always like “We were this really positive team.” But for a storyteller, conflict is a big thing. NASA teams seem to be these super efficient groups of people, but there are examples of expeditions back on Earth that are a lot less promising than that. (Biosphere 2, Antarctic expeditions, etc.) How is conflict dealt with on a space station? How do you avoid dealing with it?
4. You said there was a little bit of privacy on the space station. I was wondering if an introverted person would make a good astronaut.
5. Do you know NASA’s stance on relationships in space? Was there ever a class in “How not to fall in love”? How might they feel about a pre-established couple going into space?
6. What might a typical scheduled day look like in space?
7. Would you immediately go to sleep or were there times you were kept up at night?
8. What did you dream about?
9. What changed for you forever because of your time in space?