Tom David Jones, NASA astronaut, who had made four space flights and four spacewalks. Today, he works in the research Department of the American space Agency and carries out the planning exploratory missions. On the eve of the Day of the Asteroid, which will be celebrated on June 30, Jones gave a series of interviews to journalists from different countries in the framework of the project organized by the TV channel Discovery Science. From Russia in the project was part of MK.
– Recently Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and American astronaut Scott Kelly (members 45-46 expedition to the ISS) was included by Fortune magazine in the ranking of people who are changing the world. Their work on the ISS is considered a symbol of the fact that the difficult international relations on the Ground can’t get in the way of joint action in space. Do you agree that the ISS and other international projects – such a powerful symbol of peace and cooperation?
Is a really topical issue in the background of complex geopolitical relations. I don’t think that 25 years ago someone could predict that the international space station will help to achieve such success in the promotion of international cooperation and trust among the space agencies of the participating countries. The idea of an ISS was generated the end of the cold war, this station is allowed to link the space program of Russia, the USA and other countries. Astronauts, cosmonauts and those who control the flight from the Land, day after day, work together, learn from each other and together provide for the operation and security of the space research centre. So I think the ISS will continue to be an example of how our countries can collaborate despite political differences.
For 20 years the staff of center of flight control in Korolyov and Houston, the astronauts and cosmonauts were able to build a relationship built on mutual trust and understanding of the technical capabilities of each other. And this cooperation brings fruits daily. We hope that such cooperation will be extended to further stages of space exploration, whether it be the creation of a lunar base, manned missions to Mars or to asteroids.
– Did you personally meet with the Russian cosmonauts? And if so, what kind of impression they made on you?
– Yes, in 2011 I delivered laboratory module destiny to the ISS, which at that time was the first ever long-term crew of the station. The commander of this crew was American William shepherd, however, worked with him two Russians, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, a very experienced astronauts. We had a chance to practice together until each of us was preparing for his flight, and then we had the opportunity to chat for seven days while we installed the module. I can say that Sergei and Yuri know very well English so I could communicate with them freely. I know a little Russian language, but not enough to keep up the conversation, they spoke to me in English quite freely. And, of course, experience and intuition of Russian cosmonauts has allowed us to solve many of the problems we encountered during his stay on the ISS. Sometimes they offer a very non-standard options, which were quite effective. The level of education, training and overall professionalism of the Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts were worth each other. Working together has allowed us to learn a lot, and it was obvious that for us, for Russians, this exchange of experiences was very important.
– Today a lot is being said about the upcoming manned expedition to Mars. Whether it is expected in the near future? And how big would the significance of such a mission given the fact that today information about the red planet able to successfully collect and automatic Rovers?
– I think people would be easier to find on Mars, primitive organisms, or at least their fossilized remains, if they’re really there. I would be interested to know whether or not the Earth is the only habitable planet in the Solar system and manned missions to respond to such a question would help. But in the near future such a flight is not worth waiting. I would suggest that to achieve an acceptable level of risk when landing people on Mars will be approximately 25 years, in 2040, and only then the expedition will be possible.
Until that time, you can focus on the automatic and manned missions to the moon and on asteroids such expeditions will be shorter and will test the capabilities of our spacecraft. While traveling on the asteroids can be useful in and of themselves. They are important from a research point of view (their study will allow to learn a lot about the history of the Solar system) and commercial – asteroids can serve as a source of water and other resources. But a quarter of a century, I think humanity will Mature to the red planet.
– Mars, as, indeed, and the Moon, recently featured in frankly pseudoscientific news about aliens and UFOs, which, unfortunately, among a broad audience are often more popular than truly scientific news. Not annoying you? And how, in your opinion, is the chance that traces of extraterrestrial life we do find, whether on Mars or anywhere else?
– I really think that the probability to find outside of the Earth life is very high. If we don’t meet her on Mars, she can wait for us on Europa, moon of Jupiter, or Enceladus, satellites of Saturn. Of course, in all likelihood, it will be microorganisms. I admit, I’m not too keen on TV programs and articles that tell us how aliens have visited Earth, or that man never landed on the moon. I think such conspiracy theories always fascinate people who are not seeking to check the facts.
People constantly see UFOs in the truest sense – unidentified flying objects. But I don’t think any one of them really was a space ship of aliens – not least because it is unlikely that the representatives of extraterrestrial civilizations would want to waste their time on such a visit. And Yes, given the fact that in the Universe there are innumerable planets like Earth, I fully admit that any of them could be other civilizations. Maybe one day we’ll even find out about them. But even if so, it doesn’t make plausible stories about what the inhabitants of other planets sent to Earth representatives – alas, this version of Kontakt is too complicated technically and time consuming. Besides, while I have not seen any real evidence that we were visited by aliens; all “evidence” taken in the twenty-first century, phones and video cameras, in the best case, allow you to notice a curious geological or geomagnetic anomalies of natural origin, but extraterrestrial intelligence have no relationship. So we have to accept the fact that people interesting news about UFOs, and try to convert it into a healthy interest in real science.
– Were you ever afraid in space?
– During the work of an astronaut, I experienced some interesting and, shall we say, tense moments during space flight. But perhaps the most striking of these episodes occurred on Earth during the second mission with my participation. We were in the space Shuttle “endeavour”, and for a few seconds before launch, it became clear that one of the three major engines are already working at full capacity, overheat. The astronauts had nothing to do. When to start less than a second, the computer stopped the countdown, the launch did not take place, and we went into space with potentially faulty engine. So instead to feel the push that accompanies the launch, we heard the engines stop, the rocket ceases to vibrate, and in our earphones alarm sounds. And then we were on top of a rocket the height of a twenty story building, without receiving any messages, and knowing only that one of the engines has failed, but running failed. Only a minute later, we were informed that we should be safe, no risk of explosion and fire due to overheating of the engine did not happen. After this we descended by parachute. But it was a very tense moment though, as far as I remember, all remember exercise and retain full control. Six weeks later the engine was replaced and the launch was successfully held.
– What would you personally call a major breakthrough in human space exploration since the first landing on the moon?
– Come to mind a few answers. On the one hand, such a breakthrough can be called the launching of a space telescope “Hubble” and work in space research he has done over 25 years. On the other hand, and I tend to this variant, the key event in space exploration was the launch of the ISS. Thanks to her, orbiting the Earth almost 16 years, people live constantly. Besides, as I said, this station is a brilliant example of international cooperation among various space agencies, the interaction of fifteen partners. It is an example of the ISS, showing that joint forces can achieve almost the impossible, gives me hope that all peoples of the Earth will unite in the name of protection from meteor threats and study asteroids, and in the future and Mars.Related posts: