Tom Marshburn, mission specialist candidate. Congratulations.
A: Thank you
me what it was like when you got the news that you had been picked
to start training as an astronaut.
I was stunned.
After Col. Bob Cabana gave me the phone call and told me I had been
selected, I don't remember much else of the phone call. But
he told me I had some numbers to write down, so I could understand
where to start training and asked me if I was ready for that. I
said yes, sir. He asked me if I had a pen and paper handy, and I
said yes, sir. And he asked me if my hands were shaking, and I said
yes, sir. And it was a wonderful thing.
this opportunity to become an astronaut, I think, is probably a
pretty vivid realization of your fascination with journeys and seeing
new places. Tell me about some of those exploration experiences
and how you think they may have led you into medicine and flight
surgeon, and now astronaut.
been fascinated with the outdoors. My universe, when I was a child,
was our farm in north Georgia, but it expanded to the Appalachian
Mountains where I did a lot of backpacking. And I fell in love with
the mountains of the U.S. in general, and I hiked the Pacific Crest
Trail, a six-month backpacking trip from Canada to Mexico. I got
to explore my own limits quite a bit during that trip.
And in becoming
a physician, I think was a matter of just taking what I thought
I could do best. I had always been interested in the space program
-- since I was in elementary school, actually. And I thought maybe
if I have any talents in medicine, maybe this could be applied to
space flight. It was always manned space flight I was interested
in, human space flight. Being able to take care of people might
be a way I could contribute.
know you and your astronaut classmates should be on the missions
that are going to bring the vision for space exploration to life.
You folks are going to be the ones who are going to go to the moon
and after that, you know, who knows where. What's your philosophy
about the future of humankind moving out into the cosmos? And the
role that you're going to get to play in that?
Any role I
get to play is a real privilege. We'll be training for a long time.
We're going to be supporting a lot of other missions. I'm very,
very excited about that. I feel that getting out beyond lower Earth
orbit is a step towards human survival, as a matter of fact. It
may not be this century or even this millennium, but these are the
first steps, and we're going to have to take them some day. I'm
very excited to find out what we're going to discover.
has an important role to play in supporting and promoting education.
Tell me what you want to tell young people about the role of education
and science and math in the challenging work of space flight and
becoming an astronaut.
all one big picture. Some of these projects take generations to
accomplish. And it's absolutely essential that those that are in
school right now develop the techniques that they need to know and
learn the things they need to support, maybe some astronauts today
when they fly, actually, but also to fly themselves and to take
over the programs and to make the decisions that need to be made.