Leaving Earth – Commander Chris Hadfield
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[Commander Chris Hadfield – Leaving Earth]
[Chris Austin Hadfield (born 29 August 1959):] Source: LYBIO.NET
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Or another way to say it is, what’s the most dangerous thing that you’ve ever done? And why did you do it?
I know what the most dangerous thing is that I’ve ever done because NASA does the math. You look back to the first five shuttle launches, the odds of a catastrophic event during the first five shuttle launches was one in nine. Not great odds.
So it’s really interesting day when you wake up at the Kennedy Space Center and you’re going to go to space that day because you realize by the end of the day you’re either going to be floating effortlessly, gloriously in space, or you’ll be dead.
You go into, at the Kennedy Space Center, into the suit-up room, the same room that – that our childhood heroes got dressed in, that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin got suited in to go ride the Apollo rocket to the moon. And I got my pressure suit built around me and rode down outside in the van heading out to the launchpad – in the Astro van – heading out to the launchpad. And as you come around the corner at the Kennedy Space Center, it’s normally predawn, and in the distance, lit up by the huge xenon lights, is your spaceship, the vehicle that is going to take you off the planet.
The crew is sitting in the Astro van sort of hushed, almost holding hands, looking at that as it gets bigger and bigger. We ride the elevator up and we crawl in, on your hands and knees into the spaceship, one at a time, and you sort of worm your way up into your chair and plunk yourself down on your back. And the hatch is closed, and suddenly, what has been a lifetime of both dreams and denial is becoming real, something that I dreamed about, in fact, that I chose to do when I was nine years old, is now suddenly within not too many minutes of actually happening.
In the astronaut business, the shuttle is a very complicated vehicle. It’s the most complicated flying machine ever built. And in the astronaut business, we have a saying, which is, there is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse. And so you’re very conscious in the cockpit; you’re thinking about all of the things that you might have to do, all the switches and all the wickets you have to go through. And as the time gets closer and closer, this excitement is building. And then about three and a half minutes before launch, the huge nozzles on the back, like the size of big church bells, swing back and forth and the mass of them is such that it sways the whole vehicle, like the vehicle is alive underneath you, like an elephant getting up off its knees or something.
[Chris Hadfield (Commander):] Source: L Y B I O . N E T
And then about 30 seconds before launch, the vehicle is completely alive. It is ready to go. The APUs are running, the computers are all self-contained, it’s ready to leave the planet. And 15 seconds before launch, it is incredibly powerful to be on board one of these things. You are in the grip of something that is vastly more powerful than yourself. It’s shaking you so hard you can’t focus on the instruments in front of you. It’s like you’re in the jaws of some enormous dog and there’s a foot in the small of your back pushing you to space, accelerating wildly straight up, shouldering your way through the air, and you’re in a very complex place paying attention, watching the vehicle go through each one of its wickets with a steadily increasing smile on your face.
After two minutes, those solid rockets explode off and then you just [have] the liquid engines, the hydrogen and oxygen, and it’s as if you’re in a dragster with your foot to the floor and accelerating like you’ve never accelerated. You get lighter and lighter, the force gets on us heavier and heavier. It feels like someone’s pouring cements on you or something. Until finally, after about eight minutes and 40 seconds or so, we are finally at exactly the right altitude, exactly the right speed, the right direction, the engine shut off, and we’re weightless. And we’re alive.
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Commander Chris Hadfield – Leaving Earth. You realize by the end of the day you’re either going to be floating effortlessly, gloriously in space, or you’ll be dead. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.