CENTENARY — Dr. Garrett Reisman, formerly an astronaut with NASA, shared stories and questions with visitors Tuesday evening at Gallia Academy High School as part of a complementary event with Bossard Memorial Library’s hosting of the space technology exhibit SPACE: A Journey to Our Future.
The Gallia-Vinton Educational Service Center also sponsored the event.
Library Director Debbie Saunders introduced Reisman and his background before inviting him to take the floor of the GAHS gymnasium to share his experiences.
According to background information previously provided to Ohio Valley Publishing, Reisman was selected by NASA as a mission specialist astronaut in 1998. His first mission was aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, in 2008, which dropped him off for a 95-day mission aboard the International Space Station after which he returned to Earth aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. His second mission was aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, in 2010, and returned Reisman to the Space Station.
During these missions, Reisman performed three spacewalks, operated the Space Station Robot Arm and was a flight engineer aboard the Space Shuttle. After leaving NASA in 2011, Reisman joined SpaceX where he worked for Elon Musk and prepared SpaceX for human spaceflight as the Director of Space Operations. Currently he is a Professor of Astronautical Engineering at USC and a Senior Advisor at SpaceX.
“Being up there for that amount of time was fantastic and I called it the Goldilocks mission because if you’re on a (space) shuttle for two weeks, it’s over and done with so fast and everything is just so surreal you don’t even know what just happened, but when you’re up there for at least a month then everything kind of becomes normal,” said Reisman about space living. “That sounds kind of anticlimactic but it’s not. It’s a really wonderful feeling because you fully experience being in zero-g (a gravity-free environment).”
Reisman explained the physical sensations of launching in a shuttle to what it was like floating in space. He noted that the countdown often shared in movies is not the same for astronauts in a cockpit as they won’t hear a countdown. They may hear technical communications, but after they have been strapped in for launch and are given the go, they take off. The countdown is more for the technical crews’ needs. He noted that a rocket would go from 0 to 17,500 miles an hour within 8.5 minutes on takeoff and that astronauts would sustain a consistent force of “three-g’s” as they accelerated before accelerating no longer.
Reisman said that the only reason he was able to accomplish his goals in his career was because of inspiration and determination. He encouraged the audience to remember the value of hard work and dedication to reaching ones goals. He said he had consistently pinned a poster of a view of Earth from space above his desk in college and on into his career now as a college professor.
“It’s not enough to be inspired,” said Reisman. “A lot of us get inspired every single day by something. What you need to couple with inspiration is determination. You need to get inspired to do something great but then you got to put in the hard work to make it happen. Just being inspired is nice to start, but it’s not enough.”
Reisman lauded the work of SpaceX and its 2018 launch of the Falcon Heavy as a partly reusable heavy-lift launch vessel. He showed video of repeated failures of SpaceX before it achieved the success of being able to bring the Falcon Heavy design back to Earth after launch tests. Reisman noted that previous rocket launches had allowed for shuttles to enter space, but that rockets were designed to carry a shuttle into space and then disconnect from the shuttle to end up as waste, outside of reach of recovery. This was why the Falcon Heavy was a significant development in space flight, because one could bring launch equipment back to Earth to be reused and thus save resources.
He told the audience that if one wanted to be successful, individuals could not be afraid of failure.
Reisman said he felt it was possible that Americans would soon be entering space again, potentially as soon as 2020, with new space vehicles created through American private initiatives. Americans had not entered space in such a way since the closing of the NASA shuttle program in 2011, he said.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342. Beth Sergent contributed to this report.