As a child, it is safe to say that many of us dreamed of flight and the penultimate machines were fighter aircraft where second place is not an option. To give you a bit of perspective of those ‘wanting to’ and those that ‘got to’, I showed up at Aviation Officer Candidate School with 58 others who had the same goal, yet only 28 of us made it to graduation and one of us got the dream shot of flying the FA-18 Hornet. Once embedded in a community where few are offered such a privilege, the odds are then astronomical when somebody raises their hand with the desire to become an Astronaut.
There were over 18,000 applicants (civilian and military) for 14 Astronaut slots this year. It’s not even worth doing the math to realize that the chances are pretty darned slim and when you get picked, it is a very special accomplishment. But there’s no time to rest on any laurels because there’s a lot to learn about the launch vehicle and your new home- the International Space Station (ISS) in low earth orbit doing over 17k miles/hour (gets around the earth in about 90 min…almost as quick as a seagull to an open bag of Doritos on the beach).
I’m proud to have served alongside CAPT Scott ‘Maker’ Tingle who was selected in 2009 to join the team at NASA. Maker and I flew together in Lemoore and off the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson while flying combat missions over Iraq in the 90’s. As an aside, all US Navy fighter pilots get a callsign and if you’re lucky, you get a good one like ‘Maker’ did. But if your last name happens to be Brady, then you can bet that your callsign will be ‘Marsha’…
Maker is headed east off a Russian launchpad Dec 17th aboard a Soyuz rocket to live aboard the ISS for 4 months. Once settled in, he will do the usual ‘Astronaut’ stuff like grow over an inch within the first week (zero G does wonders for the spinal column), get some pictures of his hometown from low earth orbit, and wonder ‘just how in the hell did I get so lucky?’.
It wasn’t luck. They picked the best man for the job and you can learn more about Maker from his NASA Bio. I will feature some of his exploits on our FB page so you can see a bit more of what happens aboard the ISS from a more personal perspective. Another great American who truly Makes America Shine. #gomakergo #astromaker #makingamericashine
Follow Maker on Twitter @astromaker