Episode 139: Chasing Space on Earth

Interview with Analog Astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor

Sponsored by Victorinox Swiss Army & Alpenventures UNGUIDED

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Ever dreamed of going to space? Analog astronaut and geoscientist Dr. Sian Proctor shares how she lives out her childhood dream of space exploration here on earth. We talked to Sian just a week after Sensoria, a first of its kind, all women’s Mars simulation at the HI-SEAS habitat on the Big Island of Hawaii.

In this episode, we learn how proudly pursuing your passions (in the outdoors and otherwise) helps open up opportunities. Sian followed her curiosity scuba diving, getting her pilot’s license, traveling around the world, and studying science. While not the end goal, all helped her in applying to be an astronaut with NASA. And though she didn’t get the final call, she’s kept herself open to analog space exploration on Earth. We hear how preparing for life in space encourages us to be better environmental stewards and fellow humans on our home planet.

Looking for a transcript? Scroll after the photos!

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Featured in this episode: Dr. Sian Proctor

Hosted by Gale Straub

Music in this episode is by Meydan, Josh Woodward, Swelling, and Kai Engel using a Creative Commons attribution license.

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Dr. Sian Proctor & Sensoria Program

Dr. Sian Proctor
Sian flying a drone at the Hi-SEAS habitat in Hawaii
During the Sensoria project.
The crew behind Sensoria at the HI-SEAS habitat in Hawaii.
Inside the habitat – the Sensoria Crew (Sian is on the far right)

 

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TRANSCRIPT

Gale – Narration:

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores. Oh, it feels good to say that!

It’s been a couple of months, and I’ve missed connecting with you all by sharing new episodes of this show. It’s been wonderful to work on episodes, spend time with family, and pursue personal projects. We also made a big announcement back in January – you might notice a little cursive R on our podcast logo – it stands for Ravel Media. As both She Explores and our sister show Women on the Road have grown, we decided to formalize them under Ravel Media to better serve you all. We chose the name “Ravel” because, as a noun, it means a knot, but as a verb, it means to untangle. We’re always looking for connection between people, the environment, and culture. We try to tell stories that help us better understand both ourselves and the world around us. It’s why we spend time outside, it’s why we travel: to tangle and to untangle — and most of all, to grow. It won’t change too much for you as you listen, but it’s a step we’re proud to have taken.

Gale – Narration:

We have a lot of great stories and conversations in store for 2020. As always, I hope you’ll stay connected in our She Explores Podcast Facebook group and subscribe to our newsletter for all things She Explores. Ok, with that, on with the show.

Sian:

A lot of people do chase space. Their whole lives is about getting up there. Instead of chasing space, outer space, I’ve been chasing space on earth and I love every minute of it.

Gale – Narration:

This is Dr. Sian Proctor. She calls herself an explorer at heart:

Sian:

My 50th birthday is coming up and I’ve got a goal of, it’s called my 50 by 50 by 50 campaign. And so it’s getting to all 50 States and 50 countries by the time I turned 50 and I’m at 48.

Gale – Narration:

When we talked, Sian was two months from her 50th birthday and I have no doubt that she’ll hit those last two countries. Sian is a geoscientist teacher, STEM communicator, and an aspiring astronaut. She’s also something called an analog astronaut, but she’ll tell us more about that later in the episode. Sian believes that going about space exploration in an equitable way can make us all better humans and environmentalists.

Sian:

Exploration, a lot of times people, especially when I talk to young people, they’re like, there’s nothing left to explore, you know, because they think of exploration as creating new knowledge or experiences for humanity. But to me, no, exploration is much more personal. It’s about new experiences and knowledge for myself. So every day I challenge myself to do something or learn something or experience something new that I haven’t experienced before. And I think that when we talk about exploration that we, if we put it in that framework of lifelong learning for yourself and being your own explorer, then we can create a generation that really appreciates learning.

Gale – Narration:

Exploration isn’t something we talk a lot about overtly on this show, which might sound surprising given the name of this podcast. The historical use of the word has certain connotations that feel more like conquering or domineering a place or cultures. But the way Sian describes it: being curious and open to new experiences — is really what this show is all about. Sian’s love of learning has created a whole lot of opportunity in her life. But before she traveled to 48 countries or hiked the Camino de Santiago, or was a NOAA teacher at sea, as a little girl, she dreamed of going to space.

Sian:

I dreamt of going into space from a young age, mainly because my father worked for NASA during the Apollo and Gemini program. I was born on Guam because my father worked at the NASA tracking station there. Now by the time I got older and understood the significance of that, we had already moved and he had left NASA. But I grew up with Neil Armstrong’s autograph to my father on his wall and all of these space certificates. And what’s funny is that, uh, I’m looking at them now. He passed away when I was 19 and so I got all of those kinds of certificates and stuff and they’re on my space wall.

Gale – Narration:

Outer space felt possible to Sian. She saw the path forward through the military.

Sian:

As a kid, I just saw myself as becoming a military officer, flying the F16 and then transitioning to the shuttle commander because how hard could that be?

Gale – Narration:

There was a hitch in Sian’s plan. As a teenager, she got glasses and in the 80s that meant she wouldn’t be able to join the air force.

Sian:

I never considered myself super smart in the sense of going to MIT and I always thought of, you know, the mission specialists as super smart people who went to Ivy League schools and all of those things. And so when I got glasses and I knew I wasn’t going to be a military aviator, and then my father got sick and passed away, I just kind of gave up on that dream.

Gale – Narration:

As it does, life went on and Sian kept learning.

Sian:

I got my science degrees, I finally got my pilot’s license as a gift to myself. Being a geoscientist, I love traveling and exploring. So I traveled around the world, I got my scuba certification and then one day at age 38 I got an email from a friend who said, and I mean I hadn’t really considered being an astronaut for 20 years. And he said, NASA is looking for astronauts, you should apply.

Sian:

And I didn’t even know what the application process was like until that email came in and I clicked on it and I looked and I had all of the qualifications except for speaking Russian. And so that was the time when it kinda came back to me and I applied. And then I ended up being a finalist for the 2009 astronaut selection process.

Gale:

Hmm. And why do your friends think that you’d be a fit?

Sian:

That’s what’s great about it is when you are open about your passions and the things that you do, then your friends will know that. And so my friends saw all of the things that I did. I traveled around the world and I, you know, got my pilots license and they saw the Explorer in me because I let that out. And they also knew that I had a love for astronomy and space exploration. So when the call came up, they were just like, Hey, you’d be perfect for this. You should apply.

Gale:

What was it like to get a taste of that? Like you came close to becoming an astronaut?

Sian:

I came so close. I mean I got down to the yes, no phone call and the no, Oh, the no call came from Sunita Williams, astronaut Sunita Williams. So, uh, it was really surreal because I suffer from imposter syndrome. You know, I debated about applying because I kept saying the narrative in my head was, you’re just a community college professor. They’ll never select you. But then, you know, I could hear my dad chirping in the background of my mind saying, don’t count yourself short and let them decide whether you’re qualified or not. Don’t let that voice inside your head dictate that. And so I was like, okay, I’m going to apply. And every step of the way, because you get down to the 450 qualified, highly qualified and you’re like, wow, I can’t believe I made that.

Sian:

And then you find out that NASA’s doing background checks on you and you’re like, Whoa, really? And then you get a call saying, Hey, you’re invited to Johnson space center for three weeks and show up. You show up and you’re with a group of 10 people in the first room for three days and you’re surrounded by amazing people, fighter pilots and MIT professors and medical doctors. The first thing that everybody always asks you is, well, what do you do? It was really kind of me trying to take ownership cause I’d say, well I’m, I’m just a community college professor in South Phoenix and this whole idea of just a community college professor and realizing that I was there for a reason, whether you’re looking at it from the teacher in space aspect and what that means or just the fact that I’ve done a lot of things in my life that made me qualified and NASA took note of how well rounded I was.

Gale:

It’s cool that that process, how do you accept some of the more holistic strengths that you brought to that application process?

Sian:

Yes, absolutely. It really, because you know, I got the no phone call and you know, you feel like your, your soul has been kind of ripped out because you’re like, no. And that sadness comes in. And then the first thing that I did was I told myself, okay, I can make myself better so that the next time NASA looks at me I’ll be ready. Cause I, you know, I clearly have flaws. And so I enrolled into a Master’s in space studies and I started working on my advanced scuba and I was going to get my commercial pilot’s license and I made all of these plans [within] the first six months of getting the no call and then I stopped and I said, what am I doing?

Sian:

I had to kind of reel myself back in and say, ‘Whoa, you know, this isn’t who I am” and the person that I am and the things I did was what NASA was interested in and I don’t need to remake myself into what I think they want. And that was probably the best healing thing that I could do was just, I just kind of threw all that away and went back to living my life and being who I am. You know, if the opportunity came again, uh, and they were interested then great, but I wasn’t going to disrupt my life to chase space. It’s funny because a lot of people do chase space. Their whole lives is about getting up there. And luckily for me, that dream had died as a child and I just lived my life. And then you know, that email came, that sparked it back and it threw me into this idea of, again, chasing space. I had to bring myself back again and say, you know what? I’m just going to live my life. And it’s funny because it’s 10 years later and I’m an analog astronaut. A term that didn’t really exist 10 years ago. Instead of chasing space, outer space, I’ve been chasing space on earth and I love every minute of it.

Gale – Narration:

We’ll find out what it means to be an analog astronaut after this:

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Gale – Narration:

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Gale – Narration:

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Gale – Narration:

We’re back.

Gale:

What does that term mean? Analog astronaut.

Sian:

An analog astronaut is somebody who does human space flight training and research, but here on earth. So they’re typically not a tie to a space agency like NASA or the European space agency or things like that. So there’s a whole community of analog astronauts who live in moon and Mars simulations around the world as a hobby. Or you could say training for if the real opportunity happens. But there’s also training programs out there like project possum, which is about scientist astronaut qualification. So they’re a scientist astronaut qualification program where they concentrate on science that will be done in space and they train you up in that. And so I’m, I’ve done that. There’s a lot of really amazing opportunity.

Gale:

So how did you start doing the analog work?

Sian:

So another funny story, because my friends know who I am. I got a Facebook post from a friend that said, in a nutshell it said, you love food and you love space. NASA is looking for people to live in this new Mars simulation on the Big Island of Hawaii. You should apply. I was like, wow, I do love food and I do love space. So I got that link and I and I applied, I got selected out of hundreds of people to live in this first analog site that was supported by NASA funding to investigate food strategies for long-duration space flight and so I lived in the HI-SEAS habitat for four months.

Gale:

Wow. When was that?

Sian:

That was in 2013.

Gale – Narration:

And while the stated goal was to learn about food on Mars in that initial habitat, researchers gained valuable insights on the psychological side of going to space.

Sian:

The real thing is crew cohesion and communication and so a lot of the followup studies for HI-SEAS, they went from four months. Then I think they might’ve done another four-month than a six or eight-month. Then they got up to a year where they had a crew of six live in the habitat for a year and then back to eight months and a lot of the research focused on crew cohesion and how do you choose the right group of individuals, put them in a really small rocket ship and send them to Mars on anywhere from a five to nine-month journey. Have them live on the surface cooperating and then come back in, you know, over a year or two years and not want to kill each other. So that’s a really tough question and it’s really about figuring out how to choose the right crew, but not just the qualifications of the crew, but how do you build in mitigation strategies because conflict is going to arise. And that was one of the big things that they found through the HI-SEAS research is that between four and eight months is really when things start to break down and you start to see cracks in the system and how people are getting along and how you support them to get through that.

Gale – Narration:

Being an analog astronaut is a testing ground for space here on earth. Sian shared an outdoors-y parallel that resonated with me.

Sian:

You know when you go on backpacking trips and stuff, those are mini analogs. Those are the same kind of things. That’s why NASA sends all of their astronaut candidates on a NOLS experience so that they can get into the crew cohesion and bonding and challenges and stuff like that. And so when we’re thinking about backpacking, living in extreme environments, Antarctica, all of those kinds of things are mini analogs to human space exploration.

Gale:

Oh, I will absolutely be thinking about that next time I go out for a backpacking trip. That’s so cool.

Gale – Narration:

Cyan reached out to me for this episode before she went on a simulation called Sensoria in January. It took place at the HI SEAS habitat in Hawaii, but it was different than any other simulation she’d been on before.

Sian:

It’s called the Sensoria program and it’s, this was the very first one and it’s about putting women at the forefront of human space exploration, so it was an all female crew and I feel very fortunate that I got selected and was a part of that program and we just got out, I guess, a week ago!

Gale:

Having been a part of other missions and other analog space exploration experiences, what were your overall impressions of being in an all women’s environment?

Sian:

It was actually really fantastic. It was the first simulation that… I’ve done four simulations. And this was the first one that was all female. And what I really appreciated about it was, again, these are all highly skilled, highly trained women who are very dedicated to human space flight and this kind of activity. But what I loved about it was the conversations were different. It was the conversations that you would have with an all female crew. So for instance, one of the challenges was the fact that we have a composting toilet and it wasn’t designed to take a lot of, um, fluid urine. And so in most of the cases your crews are mixed. You might have two women, maybe three, but the majority aren’t typically women. And they found that if you had more women in the crew, then you had to do something with a toilet and they have a urinal for men.

Sian:

So they asked the women to all use the urinal. And that’s challenging because the urinals are up high, we had a female that’s five foot two. And so we accommodated and we made the change. But it just shows again that when we’re talking from a design aspect of habitats and the features within them, we’re still in a male dominated mindset or access. Even the flight suits that we wear are not female friendly. I mean, you literally as a female have to take it completely off in order to use the restroom. And so thinking about that and having those conversations because you’re in that all female space, um, was really fun.

Gale – Narration:

Crew cohesion is an integral component of space exploration. Sian and five other women were isolated at 8,000 feet on the big Island of Hawaii for 2 weeks together. Being able to help pick and bond with the crew beforehand, made a big difference. Sian picked her business partner Erin Bonilla, which created a domino effect.

Sian:

And then what’s really interesting is that she brought in somebody that she knew and then I brought in another person Makiah Eustice. And what’s great about Makiah is that, um, she’s also African American female. And so that’s unusual to have two black females in any space endeavor. And so there’s, there’s never been two black females like on the ISS or you know, things like that. There’s, and, and as far as I know of, there’s never been two black females living in a Mars or moon simulation as an analog astronaut until now.

Gale:

Oh, that’s so cool.

Sian:

It is because I came in as the oldest of the six of us. And Makiah is the youngest. She just graduated from, um, university of Texas A and M.

Gale – Narration:

Sian took Makiah on as a mentee when we spoke. She emphasized how important it is to have a diverse range of people on the crew.

Sian:

So when we think about access to space and equity, equality, all of those things, it hasn’t been, the history has not been there. And so having the diverse, not only diversity in gender but also in ethnicity, race, socioeconomics though all of those kinds of statistics is really important. If space is going to be for everyone and our vision of humanity and what we want as we start to move off planet is really important because we have the unique opportunity to shape that environment and, and decide those kinds of things, of, of the level of access and equity and all of those things. I want to help shape that narrative. I think Sensoria program is trying to do that by bringing women in, but for me, women of color, it’s really important we have access and a voice in that space. And I know Makiah feels the same way.

Gale:

Yeah, it’s, it’s really scary to think of those important decisions in the wrong hands.

Sian:

Absolutely. And, and the only way that changes again is by getting the people who are making those decisions, that diversity of voices. And so I think that that is the, the big challenge in the next five, 10, 15 years is making sure that we level that playing field.

Gale:

We’ll hear more after this.

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Gale – Narration:

We’re back. Each of the six women had a unique role for the mission. This was Sian’s.

Sian:

My main role as was the geoscience officer. So that means that I helped design and guide the EVA’s, (extra vehicular activity). They said that because it was in space, the first EVAs obviously were on ground, but the idea of going outside the habitat and so when you went outside the habitat, you had to wear a space suit. And because the HI SEAS habitat is on the big Island of Hawaii, it’s on the slopes of Manaloa, an active volcano about 8,200 feet high. So it sits on the slope of this and the terrain is amazing. It’s very Mar’s like so really recent lava flows, recent in geologic time and also lava tubes with skylights. And so that’s why that location chosen was for the geology being the geologist and somebody who had been to HI SEAS before and had gone into lava tubes.

Sian:

It was my job to design that, um, you know, how we would go and go on those excursions. And I loved it. I loved, I loved bringing my non geology crew mates out into the field, giving them the tools to navigate to locations and saying, okay, take us to stop number one or take us to stop number two, which might be a skylight, which is an entrance to a lava tube and say, okay, well, lead us into this lava too. How would you get in there? And they just loved it. Hearing them just be like, ah, you know, and, and just the amazement was so much fun.

Gale:

I’m curious as to whether there was, uh, a day in the life of the simulation or if, you know, every day was completely different just because there’s only 14 days to work within.

Sian:

There was a lot of similarity to some extent. We were challenged a little bit by the weather because if you’re going to go out on an EVA outside the habitat, then you need good weather because where it sits on the slopes of Monaloa you get a lot of, we call the dust storms, but basically low-level clouds. And it’s easy because you got to imagine that this location, there’s no vegetation, there’s no, you can easily get lost. And it’s dangerous because the lava fields, it’s not like walking on a path, you’re walking on, you know, sharp rocks. They’re, they crumble, they break. You could walk over a skylight that could collapse in. And so you really have to be in good weather to be able to do that. And so when you’re socked in day after day, you kind of get into this routine of getting up.

Sian:

We all eat together, we do all of our, our biomedical measures in the morning. And then we sit down and eat breakfast as a crew. But then we all have our own research projects that we are working on. So then we worked for, you know, X many of hours doing our thing and then we’ll come together for lunch and then we might have an activity or something in the afternoon that we’re doing together. But a lot of it in the Hab was our own individual research. They’re our agendas that we’re trying to get done and working on that. And then we’d come together for a dinner and then mission control opened up at night. So we would be talking back and forth with our communication with mission control and any of the issues for the day. If we were going out on EVA, then it was kind of like all hands on deck because four out of the six people are going outside and you can’t get into these space suits and dressed by yourself. So you’re helping each other out. And then when you go out, somebody inside one of the two people who remain in the habitat, their job to monitor communications and the safety of the EVA crew while they’re out. You might go out on an EVA for two hours, three hours, depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing.

Gale:

Hmm. I bet it feels good to get outside, even though you’re in a space suit.

Sian:

There is something about, and we have small little two little small port windows. One of them is out next to the kitchen and the other one is back in the science area. So we rarely get to see that. So it was really interesting to see people going to the window and looking out and longing to be out. A lot of the women, I mean all of the women are explorers that are in the Sensoria program. I don’t think you can can go into that program if you don’t have an explorer as heart, but they’re outdoor people and so they’re used to being outdoors and hiking and feeling the wind on your face. And so when you’re socked in for eight days and you can’t get out, you can just see the desire to get outside and explore.

Gale:

Do you think that that’s something that humans will be able to cope with, actually on Mars?

Sian:

I think so. I think that there’s some, the nice thing is that we’re going to the moon first. I’m a moon girl. So when people have moon or Mars, I’m like moon, I’m ready to go. Um, luckily moon is a test bed for us to work out the kinks for Mars, we’re gonna learn a lot as we actually establish a presence there of how to build, how to survive, how to do those, all of those things. And what’s nice is that this is, it’s this natural human progression, right? So we’ve got humans right now everywhere on the planet earth. We’ve got them in the polar regions, we’ve got them under water, we’ve got them in deserts, high elevation. Humans are everywhere. And now we’ve gone to now having humans in space, 24, seven, uh, human space, you know, and on the ISS. And then you think, okay, now the next thing is going to be the moon where we have a continued presence on the moon and what is that going to look like? And then it’s like, okay, then we’ll start sending people to explore Mars and then we’ll have our human presence that will be continuous on Mars. And so it’s really an interesting time to think about again, those big questions of access, equity, diversity and what we want that world to look like as we start to open it up.

Gale – Narration:

It’s interesting, I asked you the listeners in our She Explores Podcast Facebook group, what you were most curious to know from an aspiring astronaut. Unsurprisingly, you had some great questions and a bunch of them had to do with how our bodies would react to space. Sian had a response that took me back a little bit, but it made a lot of sense.

Gale:

You know the curiosity around what you do when you have your period and like if you were in a waitlist space, how that might affect you or your body over time…

Sian:

You know, those were questions that a lot of, you know, when we’re talking about sending of the first females up in space where a lot of the concerns and things that were used against, you know, women moving forward. Again, because of the people who are making these decisions. But that’s what’s fun is that when you have a program like Sensoria, and keep in mind that Sensoria is not about excluding men, their future missions can include men also, it’s just we’re looking at majority women being in that space and given the opportunity to lead and command so that we can bring women and female voices to the forefront of space exploration. But we cannot do that without the support of our male colleagues. And so that’s really important that that part of the equation is also included.

Gale:

So some of it is breaking some of those taboos or like misconceptions about what’s possible.

Sian:

Yes. And that the idea that, “Oh, six women in a 900 square foot dome” you know, the jokes that could fly about that. Well, we are six scientists professionals who happen to be women in that environment. And so thinking or rephrasing that narrative to reflect the fact that that we are very skilled scientists who are determined and that when you put six women together, the productivity level can be as high or higher.

Gale:

Well, I will say that anecdotally, you know, when I heard you say that overall everyone got along really well. It felt really productive, a good experience. It made me think of women’s backpacking trips that I go on and how the conversation flows and we talk about things that we don’t always talk about in other spaces. And that outcome isn’t so surprising to me just anecdotally with my experience in women’s specific spaces.

Sian:

Exactly. And that’s, and I think that that as we explore those spaces and in create data around that to show that this, this does work, then we can start changing the narrative of what some people think of when they hear that it’s an all female crew.

Gale:

What were some of the big, big takeaways? You mentioned the fact that like the Habitat’s not designed with, with women in mind, like some of those like physical barriers really. um, but what, what were some of the other takeaways from the experience?

Sian:

Well, I think one of them is coming in with open mindset and growth mindset and thinking about your strengths. Doing some of the upfront, I guess you’d say, activities and stuff to build crew cohesion so that you can deal with anything that comes along if, if something does happen. Support this whole idea of women supporting women. Win-win. Because in the past, when you’re talking about especially male-dominated spaces in the sciences, I’m a geoscientist, a geologist, you know, the number of females historically haven’t been as high and astronomy is the same way. Space exploration, all of those things is that a lot of times there’s space for one female and we compete against each other for that one space. And instead of having a competition among women where we’re not supporting each other, changing that where no, there’s multiple spaces and for us to go for and we’re going to help each other and it’s going to be a win win environment.

Sian:

And I think a lot of the women, you know, obviously with the Sensoria program, we came in with that mindset of win-win. How do I support you? How do you support me? How do we support the program? Um, and I think that that’s something that needs to be expressed more in the real world. It’s not about access to one spot. And, and I see that a lot as a, as a woman of color when it goes to picking a team or a group, it’s like, okay, who is qualified? Oh, we need one black person or one woman of color to, to check that diversity box. And it’s not about just checking that diversity box. You can have multiple women of color so that we’re not competing against each other for one spot.

Gale:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s about, it should be about fit and just more like a more is more a mentality.

Sian:

Yeah. More as more… That diversity is important. And when you’re selecting that, it’s not about checking a box. It’s about, okay, how do we create a diverse crew? What would that look like when we open up access?

Gale:

So what’s, what’s next for you? I know you’ve got two months to visit two more countries.

Sian:

I know. Uh, so I’d like to finish my 50 by 50 by 50 campaign and really kind of bring in 50 with a, with a lot of fun, I guess you’d say. And thinking about how the second half of my life, this, this transition, what’s this going to be and what are the, some of the new goals that I’d like to set for that. And so I’m starting to think a lot about that of where as an explorer do I want to go and, and what kind of legacy do I want to leave behind and how do I mentor and support the people that are coming up behind me?

Gale:

Well, it’s, it’s incredible to think of all that you’ve accomplished in the last 12 years. You know, if you think about like, when you got that call to apply to be an astronaut?

Sian:

Yes. I mean, a lot of times, you know, and I was trying to tell Makiah this because she’s young and just kind of starting out. I’m amazed at what she’s done in such a small time in a career. But a lot of times you get this, Oh you know, well what’s next? It, you know, is there any opportunity later on? And I don’t know, you just have anxiety. Us being able to tell her and be like, no, no, you know, your twenties are going to be good, but then your thirties are really good. And then your forties are even better. And then thinking about why that is. But I’ve definitely had a very great, a nice linear curve upward when it comes to things that I’ve been able to do and every decade that I’ve had. And a lot of that is maturity, wisdom, access to money, building a reputation. All of these things allow for new, more connections and more opportunities in ways that you can imagine when you’re 20 years old.

Gale – Narration:

I want to close with a final thought that Sian had about why she believes the study of how to live in a faraway place like the moon or Mars benefits all of us on our home planet.

Sian:

You know, as a geoscientist, I believe that there’s no better planet than planet earth. And when people think about space exploration, they are often like, well, why would we put the money into it? And on all of the resources when we have problems here. And I’m a big proponent of solving for space solves for earth. And so all of the things that we do to advance human space flight actually help us become better stewards of our own planet and better humans. And so when you think about crew cohesion for long duration space flight, well imagine if we could solve that issue and apply it on earth. You know, what would it look like if we could all get along as a, as humans here? Um, when you think about food and food resources, um, energy, uh, all of the things that we need to survive in space and beyond on these other planets are the things that we need to thrive here on earth. And so really is a payback to earth when we put money and resources and time into human space flight.

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