Dreams from the past

Recently, Karina Fabian (discussed previously for Magic, Mensa & Mayhem), in her Rocket Science for the Rest of Us blog, pointed to an announcement — NASA is taking applications for astronaut training. There was a time I would’ve loved to be an astronaut, but I didn’t know how to go about applying, or what the requirements were, or where to go to find the answers. The only hint I had was that the Captain in I Dream of Jeanie had come in from the Air Force, and I knew I didn’t want to go into the military. So I went on with my dreams of going to medical school (which, clearly, I didn’t have much better information on).

Intrigued at the recent announcement (even though there’s no way I’m relocating to Houston), I looked at the Astronaut Selection and Training brochure for the requirements. Bachelor’s degree in math, science, or engineering — check. At least three years of post-college experience — check. (Two years as a lab tech, and the master’s degree counts as one, despite the number of years I put in to get it.) Vision correctable to 20/20 — check. (Even if it’s going to require progressive lenses next time around.) Blood pressure below 140/90 — check. Height between 62 and 75 inches — check. (Hey, I’m not too short!) At least on paper, I’m qualified.

The things that give me pause are in the training procedures. Because of my leg, I’m not sure I could do hyperbaric or hypobaric conditions, or even SCUBA certification. So much as I would love to have a mid-life crisis and apply to become an astronaut in the hopes of going to Mars someday, it’s not realistic. Which is just as well — as I said, I’m not up to relocating to Houston. Don’t care for the climate. And my husband has tenure here, which, in this economic climate, isn’t something to dismiss.

So I’m letting the dream stay in the past. On the other hand, if anyone reading this is qualified and tempted, let me know how it goes.

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  1. One of my friends who does SCUBA is a double amputee, so I doubt if that part by itself would stop you. I mean, if that’s what you really want to do, the obstacles seem surmountable, y’know?

    Not that I’m trying to talk you into it or anything…

    • Well, the problem is that my blood circulation is compromised. A vein from the right leg was used to restore circulation in the left, and I’m sure that lesser arteries and veins and capillaries have filled in — after all, I don’t have any necrotic tissue. But because of the transplant, I’m really unsure what my limitations are. I mean, the vascular surgeon told me I’d be wearing compression stockings for the rest of my life. I don’t wear them most of the time now (I do when I fly), but I don’t know how well I’d function under other conditions.

  2. Hmm. I’m still not too old to get a BSc from the Open University or something. Maybe astronaut-ing could be one of the things I’d end up trying out in my thirties.

    • Oooh, go for it! If nothing else, experience is always good for writing fodder. (Of course, you realize I’m picturing you with a newsboy cap velcroed to the outside of your spacesuit.)

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