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Astronaut Candidates 2004: | Home
Behind the ScenesAstronaut Candidate Class of 2004 Behind the ScenesTrainingSonny Carter Training Facility
Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger
IMAGE: Astronaut Candidate Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger
2004 Astronaut Candidate Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is a teacher from Fort Collins High School in Fort Collins, Colo.
Astronaut Candidate Interview:
Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

Q: Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, congratulations.

A: Thank you very much.

Mission specialist-educator candidate, tell me what it was like when you got the news that you had been picked to start training as an astronaut.

It was completely unreal. I was teaching my third-period Integrated Earth Science class. The telephone rang, and I was just expecting to hear some student's name that I needed to send down to the office. And instead, I get offered the dream job that I've always wanted. I was shaking and jumping up and down. Of course, the students wanted to know what's wrong with me. And then when I got off the phone, they got to share in my excitement and enthusiasm.

All of the people who get picked as astronauts have great academic records and great work histories, but there's usually something else, some other area of interest or achievement. For instance, I want to ask you to tell me about your history as a competitive runner and how that helped you become a better teacher. And whether that's going to help you be a better astronaut.

I feel a lot of the things that you do in running carry over into teaching and, I think, now into the astronaut position. The big thing is training and endurance and just keep going. We train hard as teachers. You work on lessons. You think about what you want to teach your students. You put it into practice. Sometimes it works wonderful, and you get to feel like you won the race. Sometimes it bombs, and you have to pick up the pieces there and try again the next day. I think the same thing will carry over then into training. I have all this endurance that I've built up, and I know what pain is and I know how to suffer through that. But I also know what the achievement or the goal is. I just keep setting the goals higher and higher in running. My husband jokes I'm never satisfied with my end race. And I just tell him, "Well, I'm satisfied. I just wanted to go faster next time." So, I think that will be the same in training. I'll work really, really hard, and then, one day it'll all pay off.

You just finished the Boston Marathon. What was your time?

I wish I didn't have to say that time. I ran it in 3:49, and it's the slowest marathon I've run. But the day was tough, and I'm glad I finished.

And faster than almost everybody who's watching. I guarantee it. You are in a class of 11 astronaut candidates that include the first educator astronauts. You and two others [were] chosen through a program that's designed to generate a new excitement for the nation's teachers and students in science, engineering and technology. How do you see yourself and your fellow educator astronauts inspiring the next generation of explorers?

I think we're going to take a lot of the experiences that we have had, and especially working with students, but then the rest of the candidates also have great experiences, and draw from those and share them with the country. Because they can identify with our same dreams and goals, they will have enthusiasm along with us for flight and for space and I see us all working together and sharing these experiences.

Now you and your whole astronaut class are going to be the folks who fly the missions that bring the vision for space exploration to life. You guys are going to be the ones who are going to go to the moon and then figure out how we go on from there. What is your philosophy about the future of humankind going out into the cosmos? And how do you feel about being right there on the front row for it?

Right now in the Northwest, we're celebrating Lewis and Clark, and 200 years have gone by after their exploration. And I just see this as kind of another thing that human beings do as explorers. We get to be a part of that group now that's going to look beyond Earth and go back to the moon, and look at Mars and look at all these places beyond it. It just seems natural. It seems like a place that we should be going, and it's incredible to look back on what 200 years ago seemed like a big journey. And hopefully someday, people will look back from a different place and say it all began there.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 07/15/2005
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