Real Talk with Chris Cassidy
Among the Stars is documentary series available on Disney+. It follows astronaut Chris Cassidy on his final mission to the International Space Station (ISS). TFK Kid Reporter Creedence Peterson spoke with Cassidy.
1. What’s the scariest moment you’ve experienced on a space mission?
It has to be a spacewalk with Luca Parmitano. Water started coming into his helmet. I think if you watch the documentary, it’s the opening scene.
2. Civilians have now gone to space on privately funded missions. How common do you think it’ll be for kids in my generation to go to space?
I think it’s going to become much more common for nonprofessional astronauts to go to space. Certainly, in your lifetime, a family could decide to take a space vacation. Right now the price is still pretty expensive for somebody to buy a ticket to space. But eventually, the price will come down to the point where more people can seriously consider that as an option.
3. Have you ever been scared you’ll float away while walking in space?
Becoming untethered is something that we train hard to not do. If you do, there’s a mini jet pack that doesn’t have a lot of gas in it, but it has some. We train on how to use that to get back to the space station. It’s still scary when you go outside the spacecraft your first time, or even your 10th time, like I have.
4. I saw in the series that you were responsible for repairing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). What is it, and why is it important to the study of space?
The AMS is a device that studies the origins of the universe. The documentary goes into a nice explanation on how it does its thing. It’s a piece of equipment that gives scientists around the globe so much data to learn from.
5. How did COVID-19 have an impact on your mission?
In terms of our day-to-day life on board the space station, nothing really changed for us. We understood that the people we were talking to on the ground, however, had a great deal of new things to experience. But aboard the space station, it was largely life as normal.
6. Have you ever gotten spacesick?
It doesn’t matter if you’re used to flying in airplanes upside down and sideways. Space sickness can happen to anyone. It happens soon after the rocket engines cut off. You go from Earth gravity to g-force through the acceleration of launch, and then boom: You’re floating. Many of us take motion-sickness medication on the launchpad. But it happens to all of us eventually.
7. Is it hard to sleep in space?
It’s a little hard when you’re not used to it. What do you do with your arms when you sleep in bed? You can have them on your side or around your pillow. But you have no pillow up there, and you have no side. You’re just floating. But you get used to it.
8. Does food taste different in space?
No. Tastes the same.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. It was originally published in TIME for Kids on October 15, 2021.