Life at zero gravity
NASA astronaut shares her love of spaceBRIDGET JONES
When Stephanie Wilson was 13, she spoke to an astronomer for a school assignment about interesting careers.
Thirty two years later the American is a NASA astronaut who has spent more than 40 days in space.
Wilson is currently in New Zealand sharing her love of space and science at Dunedin's International Science Festival and will speak at the Auckland Museum this afternoon.
Since being accepted to NASA training in 1996, Wilson has been an in-flight crew member on three separate space shuttle missions, and was the second African-American woman to go into space.
She says while the number of women at NASA is increasing, she is still a minority.
"We are finding that women aren't studying maths and science, which are required to become an astronaut. Numbers are increasing but they are still low, and so the pool of applicants for women are still low.
"[But events like the Festival are great] to show that it's possible and anyone can do it."
Wilson will share what it's like to be in space during her talk at the museum, but describes the "spectacular" view as one of the best parts.
"It's very exciting, especially the ride to launch. It's spectacular, the best eight and a half minute ride I've ever had. When we are in space, we're weightless, so it's much like being in a pool, like floating in water. And we have a 180 degree view of Earth, it's very special.
"We are very excited on launch day, it's very special. We've usually trained for about a year, so mostly we are ready to get the mission started, ready to have that experience."
But she says life at zero gravity is surprisingly normal. On an average day, with a "standard regiment" of a routine, the crew will work, exercise, have lunch and dinner breaks, regular sleeping patterns, phone home and listen to music in rooms with photos on the walls.
"And much like we do here on the weekend, even though you're not scheduled for work, you are cleaning your house, we don't have to go to the grocery tore, but we are running errands, getting things organised so you can be ready for the week...Just with a really good view."
Stephanie Wilson will be speaking at the Auckland Museum auditorium from 2pm on Saturday, July 7.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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