Kurt Rominger saw San Francisco Bay and Salt Lake City – at the same time – and drove straight through the Aurora Borealis.
Rominger, a NASA astronaut and CSU alum, was here Thursday to talk about the challenges and joys of spaceflight, along with teamwork.
“Teamwork is an essential element in spaceflight,” he said.
“On my second mission to the International Space Station we threw a luau our first night there to bond with the crew on board, and it ended up being the best thing we could have done, because we trusted each other in ways we may not have otherwise.”
Rominger, a NASA employee for 15 years, flew five missions into space and served as chief of missions for NASA.
He commanded the first mission to dock with the International Space Station, and has worked with astronauts from more than 20 countries, including the commander of the ill-fated Columbia Mission.
Normal day-to-day activities such as eating, drinking and sleeping are all different in space. Rominger joked that although drinking from the air can be fun, strapping yourself to the floor or ceiling of a spacecraft can take a bit of getting used to.
When asked about returning to the moon, Rominger said that while the earliest NASA could launch a mission to the moon is 2014, NASA hopes to eventually keep a permanent outpost – one that may serve as a model for a future mission or outpost on Mars.
However, not everyone was convinced that the government’s billions should be spent on Mars missions.
“Although I would love to see us go to Mars,” said Jeff Lemke, a CIRA employee at the Foothills Campus, “I often wonder if it is worth the billions it would take to finance a Mars mission.”
Rominger argued that the advancements in science keep both the country and economy strong, and many of the world’s problems take more than just money to solve.
Rominger, who majored in civil engineering, encouraged audience members to consider a career in space flight.
“Anyone interested in math or science can become an astronaut,” he said.
Ahmed Jodeh, a senior mechanical engineering major, hopes to work for NASA one day.
“It was great to hear from someone who has actually worked at NASA and get their perspective,” he said.
Staff writer Mary Swanson can be reached at email@example.com.