As China will launch its third manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 on Thursday, SINA.com interviewed Russell L. (Rusty) Schweickart, who is a retired business and government executive and serves today as Chairman of the Board of the B612 Foundation.
Q1. Do you have any comment on China's Aeronautics and Astronautics development? Would you like to make some suggestion on and wishes to China's upcoming spacewalk mission?
A. It is very exciting to see China becoming so active in exploring space. Having “walked” in space myself on Apollo 9 I can tell you that it was the highlight of my mission and I hope that the Chinese astronauts enjoy it as much as I did. We live on a *very* beautiful planet and the view of it from outside is spectacular!
Q2. What is the biggest challenge an astronaut will be facing when carrying out spacewalk for the first time? If you ever did spacewalk, how long have you been trained for your first spacewalk? Did you feel more tired in the space than on the ground or inside the spacecraft?
A. The biggest challenge during a spacewalk is the performance of the space suit. During our Gemini program the suits were not very flexible and the astronauts became very tired. Our Apollo suits, however, were very flexible and the spacewalks very comfortable. I’m sure that the Chinese suits will work well. I trained for over 2 years for my spacewalk and I was very comfortable during my time outside.
Q3. Do you think that a person's personality and temperament will change after becoming an astronaut? If so, in what aspect? Where does astronauts' mental pressure come from? How to make self-adjustment?
A. The personality and temperament of an aware person is always changing. The spaceflight experience is a very powerful one and changes one’s perspective quite dramatically. At least it did for me. The planet we all live on becomes much more precious after circling it every 90 minutes, day after day. It becomes one home for all of humankind. We are all one family and this becomes obvious from the spaceflight experience.
Q4. Did you conduct any scientific experiments in the space? Can you recall some of the most interesting ones?
A. On Apollo 9 we flew the first multi-spectral camera ever flown in space. We were able to get excellent pictures of the environment and this early experiment has no led to the multiplicity of multi-spectral earth observing systems flying today. Today there are many such systems around the Earth and several around Mars as well!
Q5. What do you think of your experience as being an astronaut and carrying out spacewalking mission? Could this kind of experience bring you any change in your own life?
A. Please see the responses above.
Q6. What was the most frequent thoughts occurred to you while you were in the space? What did you want to say to your country and family at that time?
A. This is a very big question… too big to answer in a sentence or two. I have therefore attached the Preface that I wrote for The Home Planet, the first book of our Association of Space Explorers. Please refer to this in answer to this question.
About Russell L. Schweickart
Russell L. (Rusty) Schweickart is a retired business and government executive and serves today as Chairman of the Board of the B612 Foundation. The organization, a non-profit private foundation, champions the development and testing of a spaceflight concept to protect the Earth from future asteroid impacts. [More]