The space sector is now in the foreground. Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, the billionaires who founded private space companies Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, respectively, both traveled to suborbital space last summer in their own spacecraft. Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which supplied cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station, earlier this month sent four tourists into orbit for a few days. The price to pay for the team would have eclipsed the $ 200 million.
On top of that, a new two-hour documentary film on the ISS, “The marvelous“, was released in the United States on September 10. It follows the personal experiences of several astronauts and cosmonauts, and their Earth-related families, on board the ISS for two decades. One of the profiled astronauts is Cady Coleman, who completed three space flights, spending several months aboard the ISS in 2010-2011. We caught up with Coleman by phone to discuss the film and recent news from the private space. Here are excerpts edited from a longer conversation.
Jim Clash: You saw the movie “The Wonderful” – you are even there. What do you think moviegoers will love the most about it?
Cady Coleman: Viewers will love traveling to the space station here, because instead of focusing on the hardware and what it took to assemble the ISS, the film is told from the perspective of those who actually lived there – and , in my case, that of my family on Earth as well. People always ask, “Hey, how’s it going in space?” What they are really asking is, “If I could be up there, what would it be like for me? ”In the film, our stories are told in such a personal way that it allows anyone on Earth to see a part of themselves on this space station.
Shock: Understood. How about a personal high (no pun intended) from your own time on the ISS?
Coleman: I love waking up in the morning in my cabin, the size of an old-fashioned phone booth, swinging like a little ball with my knees tucked into my sleeping bag. I can literally be upside down, but it doesn’t matter. Knowing viscerally that I’m still in space, this special place that few people visit, that’s what fascinates me. We are on a very important mission, of course, but I don’t think so much about that as being one of the six people in the entire human race not living on the planet, and feeling really lucky and happy. on this subject.
Shock: Hard to imagine, but do you ever get tired of the sight up there?
Coleman: I love to look out the window. I was surprised at how fascinating it is every minute you look at Earth. You get a better understanding of how everything is connected there, discover places you always wanted to visit. I felt like a citizen of the world. When I got home, my taxi driver told me he was from Egypt. My first thought was, ‘Oh, I was right there.’ I love Samantha quote [Cristoforetti] in the movie, where she says that every orbit is like an embrace of the Earth – that, in a way, the six of us were the sentinels of our planet.
Shock: And the routine? Is it getting boring?
Coleman: You know, I was never bored up there. When people ask me what I miss most about being back on Earth, my answer is, “Other than my family, absolutely nothing. I loved living up there. I mean, I was tasked with inventing life in this new place. How were we going to eat, sleep, work, communicate with our families, share the mission? It was like being a new settler in a new place. The only thing I didn’t miss was trying to keep track of everything, not to lose things [laughs]. Let’s say it’s the cord of a computer that adapts to a certain something that plugs in. Well if you let go of that it probably won’t be on the floor where you left it. We’ve got an airflow up there, and it’s moving things. You might find it stuck on a nearby screen in front of a fan. Objects tend to be sucked in by fans and screens prevent them from being swallowed by the air intake system. You might have that chance. But you probably won’t. I mean, it could get casually tangled in a number of other cables on the ceiling, the walls, along the floor, anywhere. I got tired of having to be so careful when I opened a suitcase with a new experience. You just have to watch everything very, very carefully.
Shock: Comment on recent private companies involved in sending people to space.
Coleman: I like that there are more people involved in the business. They bring different skills, perspectives, questions, goals and possibilities. If you only have people who work for government agencies, you won’t get that. Space belongs to all of us, and it needs a diverse group of people to help understand how to explore it together. How are we going to settle in new places, avoid some of the things that we have done in the past, both in terms of how we have thought about the territory and how we have treated our planet? As for Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, I’ve met them all. Each opens the way to space in their own way. Branson takes people with the means of a short and unique view of the planet. It will change them in a way. I think Bezos has similar motives, but may have a longer term plan to help people get off our planet. Musk still has a different inclination in terms of the material and the paths he wants to open – Mars, etc.
Shock: The big controversy now: are we calling suborbital thieves with astronauts Branson and Bezos?
Coleman: I don’t care what we call them. I’m just glad to have new family members who are lucky enough to leave the planet. What really matters is that when you see something differently, as they will, you come back and share that new perspective with others.