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Guest: Eileen Collins; Topics: Human spaceflight, U.S. space policy, Mars, space shuttle, ISS, and much more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed Retired USAF Col. Eileen Collins to the program. Col. Collins is also a retired NASA astronaut having been both the first woman pilot and first woman commander of a space shuttle. During the first segment of our 95 minute discussion, I asked our guest about the differences in flying to and from MIR and the ISS, plus docking. I also asked Col. Collins what it was like being inside Mir. You might be surprised by what she had to say about both MIR and the ISS, especially when comparing one to the other and how one approached and docked with each space station. Its an interesting discussion which you don't hear that much about so listen up so you don't miss anything.
We next talked U.S. space policy. Col. Collins said that our space policy should be vetted, public, and very transparent. It should also include input from interested citizens. She said that the policy makers should "stop changing things on us!" Listen to her explanation of that statement. Our guest cited several examples to make her case about changing things.
Eileen wants to go to Mars and would like to see the U.S. lead the Mars venture. She also said she would like to see a U.S. astronaut be the first one to set foot on Mars. Listeners asked her about an international partnership for a human Mars mission and would she be OK if an American was not the first on Mars. Don't miss her answer to that question.
We briefly talked about planetary protection Mars. Her bottom line was that being a former test pilot, she believes the people involved would "figure it out." She does not see planetary protection preventing humans on Mars.
We briefly talked about her recent House testimony and the Space Leadership Preservation Act that would provide for a ten year term for the NASA administrator so as to remove politics from NASA. Eileen explained why she thought ten years might be too long but was in favor of five year term.
In talking about NASA space projects, she gave high praise to the robotic and science missions and said that astronauts support these missions as the unmanned part of NASA was very important. Besides Mars, other destinations of possible interest that were mentioned included Europa and Venus plus the Martian moons. She also had high praise for the Kepler mission and talked about the exoplanet discoveries which she said were very exciting.
Todd from San Diego asked if she were selected for a mission to Deimos instead of actually going to and landing on Mars, would she be disappointed that she was not actually going to Mars. Don't miss what she had to say in response to this question. Following Todd's question, Jack sent in a note asking her if she would consider going to Mars on the much talked about SpaceX humans to Mars mission were she asked to be part of the mission. Again, don't miss what she said about going to Mars via SpaceX.
BJohn sent in a note asking about space station design and using the ISS as a Mars spaceship. Mike Listner sent in a note about the proposed space policy under the American Space Renaissance Act.
In the second segment, Joe sent in a note asking for Eileen's opinion on a possible cabinet level Department of Space. This reminded our guest of the old National Space Council.
Ken from Boston asked about the commercial and NewSpace industry, specifically some of the entrepreneurial companies starting up to do various commercial space money making projects. Col. Collins talked about the private sector being very innovative and unleashing new ideas and projects and commercial space industry growth. As for NASA technology, she suggested NASA mainly do that which the private sector won't do or can't do.
I asked Eileen if she had ever experienced the Overview Effect while in space. She had not heard of it so I explained it to her. She had much to say about seeing Earth without borders but she did point out how to see structures on Earth with binoculars if you knew where to look for them as you flew overhead. She also said there was one place on Earth where you could see borders. Do you know what that one place might be? Listen to our guest and I bet you will be surprised when she tells you about this unique place on Earth. As for the Overview Effect, she said it was important to transcend politics and talked about how well the cosmonauts and astronauts got along regardless of what was happening between the two countries.
Helen sent in a note asking our guest if she had ever been scared in space. You will be surprised by the answer provided by our guest so don't miss it. Astronaut outreach was also discussed and we talked about what an active astronaut can do as compared to a retired astronaut.
BJohn sent in another note asking our guest if she would be OK during a two year or longer mission to Mars. Eileen talked about possible physical changes, she described the astronaut practice of fluid loading before returning to Earth (drinking a salt water like liquid to prevent dehydration). One point Eileen made during our discussion was that the older she got, the return to Earth became much harder physically on her. I asked if this was a cultural or gender issue and she said no. Pay attention to what our guest said about the physical issue of returning to Earth the older an astronaut is because you don't hear much about this.
Kim called from Mexico with several questions Overview Effect like issues, humanity, coming together, and such. Eileen addressed Outer Space Treaty issues, U.S. space policy leadership, then both talked about space advocacy and more.
Dr. Doug sent in a note asking Eileen where she thought current and former astronauts most wanted to go next, the Moon, Mars, or an asteroid. Mars was the answer but don't miss what she said about it, also her focus on the Moon.
Near the end of the show, I asked Eileen about her having fun on the space shuttle and ISS and if the entire mission was fun or if she had to carve out special time for fun. Again, you might be surprised by what she said about fun, playing games during downtime, and more. The last question dealt with the future of the ISS beyond 2024. Our guest said it might get extended to 2028 but it was too early for that decision. Even so, she said eventually it would be deorbited and dive into the ocean though she did talk about possibly seeing it go to commercial operation were that a possibility.
Don't miss the concluding comments by Col. Collins. Please post your comments/questions in the comments section of this archived show on TSS website. You can reach Col. Collins through me.