I Talk to the Spaceman
So here I am (top) earlier today, as I prepare to talk to Colonel Mike Fincke (below), who happens at this moment to be the commander of the International Space Station.
Can I just say that this has been the highlight of a really great couple of weeks?
It turns out that Colonel Fincke is a big fan of my writing, and it so happens he's reading Implied Spaces right now. He happened to mention his choice of reading matter to someone at NASA, and as a result they contacted me and set up a teleconference, courtesy of a great many people at New Mexico Tech.
The teleconference was supposed to be a private conversation between Col. Fincke and myself, so there was no advanced publicity, and no recordings were made (except by eavesdroppers in other countries, maybe). When the chat started, everyone was shooed out of the room so that I could have some privacy.
We talked about my books. (I think I already mentioned that he likes them.) We talked about the fact that due to his training schedule, he's spend a third of his life in Russia since 2002. We talked about space tourism--- he'd shared a few days of his mission with Richard Garriott. I mentioned that, since he's an MIT graduate, I was surprised he wasn't talking to Joe Haldeman.
Every so often, he'd turn a cartwheel. I assume this wasn't out of exuberance--- although he's a pretty exuberant guy--- but a result of some gesture or shift of position that spun him around.
At one point, when I mentioned that I envied him his view, he offered to pick up his computer and move it to the window so that I could get a picture. Houston vetoed this, however, as the space station had just been maneuvering and the windows were supposed to be closed for a time.
We compared notes about the fact that we both chose our career at a very early age. I decided I wanted to be a writer before I could actually read or write: I'd dictate stories to my parents, who would write them down for me. Mike saw men walk on the moon when he was very young--- he would have been five at the time of the last Apollo mission--- and decided at that point that he was going to be an astronaut.
I mentioned that we were both being paid for jobs we'd do for free.
The conversation lasted only twenty-five minutes or so before we lost telemetry.
Thanks to Kelly Curtis and the other folks at NASA for setting this up, and to Rob Hepler and the staff at NMT Distance Education.
I hope Mike Fincke keeps turning those cartwheels.