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Entries in Astronauts (2)

Tuesday
Feb212012

Astronauts Wanted: Experiment in Hawaii to Test Mars Menus

NASA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Researchers are looking for six able-bodied volunteers and two backups to be cooped up for 120 days and nights in a make-believe Mars base early in 2013.

The experiment is called HI-SEAS -- short for Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue & Simulation -- and would have the would-be astronauts live in a habitat amid the volcanic rubble on Hawaii's Big Island. The researchers are interested in finding out what real astronauts might eat, and whether they would cook and consume enough to sustain themselves on a long mission.

"Anyone eating a restricted diet will soon get tired of it," said Jean Hunter, a professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University and an organizer of the experiment. "Astronauts on long missions generally don't eat enough. That's good for a diet on Earth, but bad in space, because all the problems of microgravity, like bone and muscle loss, are exacerbated if you don't get enough calories."

The researchers would make the experiment fairly realistic -- the crew members would have limited communications with mission control, and wear makeshift spacesuits whenever they went outside. Inside, they would be limited to the food supplies that had been packed in their habitat -- long-lasting staples such as flour, sugar, beans, rice, olive oil, dehydrated meat and cheese.

Even though NASA has no specific plans for a Mars expedition, it is funding the preliminary research.

Applications for HI-SEAS will be accepted until Feb. 29. Candidates must be nonsmokers in good health, between the ages of 21 and 65, with bachelor's degrees in engineering, math or appropriate sciences. Special consideration will be given to those who could use the four months for related experiments in geology or long-duration spaceflight.

"This could make a difference for Mars missions, or it could be helpful to future astronauts at lunar outposts, who might spend most of their careers there," said Hunter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr262011

Space Shuttle Astronauts Arrive for Endeavour Launch

The six STS-134 astronauts (from left): Mission Specialists Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel, Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, Mission Specialist Mike Fincke and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori. NASA/Kim Shiflett(MERRITT ISLAND, Fla.) -- The countdown in Florida isn't for the royal wedding; it is for the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. Hundreds of thousands of spectators won't be sitting in front of a TV watching a wedding; they will be camped along the roads leading to the Kennedy Space Center. Endeavour's mission is the second-to-last space shuttle scheduled to launch, and many would rather watch a live rocket blasting off into space than catch reruns of the wedding.

Commander Mark Kelly is counting as well. He is waiting until his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, arrives to watch his space shuttle blast off on Friday afternoon.

NASA is flying Giffords to Florida from Houston and preparing a secluded place for her to view the launch, but is not releasing any details about her travel at her family's request. Giffords will not make any public appearances, and her staff is debating whether it will release any new photos of the congresswoman.

Giffords has been recovering at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, undergoing rehabilitation for a gunshot wound to her head after a gunman opened fire outside a Tucson grocery store in January, killing six people and wounding 13 others, including Giffords. Doctors decided she had made enough progress to leave the hospital and go to Florida to watch her husband make history commanding Endeavour's last flight.

Spend any time with the crew of this mission, STS-134, and you quickly see how close they are to each other. Their families landed before they did at the Kennedy Space Center, all wearing black T-shirts with "Endeavour STS-134" in glitter on the front.

They cheered, waved, blew kisses as the astronauts flew over the landing site to see their orbiter on the launch pad. Their children range in age from toddlers to teenagers, but even the teenagers were elated to see their dads before launch.

Mark Kelly wished a happy birthday to his crewmember Drew Feustel's boys, Ari and Aden. Feustel's wife Indi joked with her husband, who is the lead spacewalker on this mission, "Did you remember to leave the credit card for me?"

Feustel told ABC News earlier this month how happy he was that Mark Kelly came back to command this mission. They have bonded, he says, over the 18 months of training.

Kelly's Pilot, Greg Johnson, says this group of "oddball" astronauts work well because of Kelly's leadership.

"The commander's job is a very complicated job, especially for this flight," said Kelly. "We have a group that comes from a lot of different backgrounds, but we have a strong team. The commander sets the tone for the mission, and ultimately the commander is responsible for everything on the mission."

Clearly, Kelly has had much on his mind. He has repeatedly said how important it was to have his wife at the launch site when they ignite the main engines on the orbiter and it roars into space.

This mission is a family affair. Greg Chamitoff is the veteran of a space station mission. His twins, Natasha and Dmitri, are six now. His wife, Chantal Caviness, makes the launch a little less scary for her children with a clever strategy, a big stick-on button.

"They counted down, pushed the button and the shuttle launched, so they thought they sent me, which was really funny." Chamitoff says his daughter has set a time limit on his mission: "My daughter says I can go for nine days but not for more than nine days."

Endeavour's mission is scheduled for 14 days, an ambitious mission to deliver and install the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a physics platform to help prove -- or disprove -- the Big Bang theory of the beginning of our universe.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio