• Question: What is the hardest part of being one of the astronaut support team?

    Asked by Suvetha to Tom, Jon, COLFlight, Beth, Anne on 4 Oct 2015. This question was also asked by Imo, ultraleo, Jobalob123, therazalution.
    • Photo: Beth Healey

      Beth Healey answered on 4 Oct 2015:

      I love my job and it’s a great feeling to be a small part of a large international team which together are achieving amazing things – like sending Tim to space!

      For me I have been away from my friends and family for 10 months now though so this is definitely the hardest part for me. I also haven’t had any fresh fruit or vegetables for over 9 months as we have been isolated. I can’t wait to have a fresh orange or mango when the first plane arrives in November!!

    • Photo: Columbus Flight Directors

      Columbus Flight Directors answered on 4 Oct 2015:

      Astronauts are on the space station 24 hours a day. For 6 months their office and their home are the same place. Therefore, we must be there supporting them 24 hours a day, for seven days a week. This implies working shifts also at night and on the weekends, which is sometimes hard because you work when all your friends are going out and you are free when all your friends are at work.

      But when you think about what you are doing and why, how cool and how important this is, then all the effort becomes easy to overcome!

      Simon: 
      The hardest part of my job is also the most enjoyable: After all the training and preparation that the crew and ground do prior to a mission there will always be a problem that will arise that cannot be predicted. When this happens it is really important that the astronauts and the support teams work together as “one” to resolve that problem.

      One of the key tasks of a Columbus Flight Director is to coordinate both the astronauts and ground in solving the problem. We do this by keeping everyone focused, thinking ahead and thinking outside of the box. Not an easy task with the ground teams and the astronauts separated by great distances!