An Astronaut Blogs from Space

What did astronaut Nicole Passonno Stott do right before blastoff? It involves turtles.

By Nicole Passonno Stott
Nicole Stott had a chance to relax by the water before blastoff.
Photograph: Photo courtesy of Nicole Stott

Meet NASA astronaut Nicole Passonno Stott, who left for space—where she will live for four months, working at the International Space Station—on August 25. Our paths crossed when she asked NASA if MORE could supply her with an electronic version that she could read up there—an idea that was so cool we said yes right away, then got Stott to become our first interplanetary blogger. Now 3, 2, 1 . . . read!

August 22, 2009

We’re wrapping up our week of quarantine and looking forward to launch in a couple days. In preparation for our scheduled launch time of 1:35 in the morning on August 25, we have been sleep shifting—with a pretty tough sleep shift going to bed at 7 am and getting up at 3 pm. Most of our time in quarantine is spent organizing our procedures and support materials for the flight, exercising, and thankfully having the chance to relax a little before launch. Today, as a crew, we had the opportunity to spend a couple hours at the beach that’s on the property near the space center. It was a beautiful day.
A few  of my crewmates were running on the beach and came across an amazing sight—about 50 baby turtles had just hatched and were making their way to the ocean. They stood back and watched as all of the little turtles made their way quickly down the beach and toward the water. On their way back they noticed one small turtle alone in the sand and on its back. The rest of us were just a short way down the beach, so they called us to come to down and see the turtle. 
Our time at the beach gave us a very special gift – finding a little turtle on the beach that we could help find its way to the water. We all were smiling big as we watched the little turtle swimming out and through the waves.  It made me think about how there have already been a lot of little things in preparation for this flight that have meant a lot to me. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most (so I guess they really are the big things—like getting back in touch with old friends, the last hug with my family before going into quarantine, and unexpected things like encounters with a little turtle on the beach.          
August 19, 2009

At 46 years old, I’m a mother, I’m a wife, and I’m a NASA astronaut who’s about to make her first space flight. I’m writing this blog to try and share some of my experiences preparing for the flight and then once on orbit I hope there will be some surprising things to share with you about living and working in space.

Like so many things in life, this job has proven for me that time really does fly when you’re having fun. It was a “mere” 9 years ago that I received the exciting news that I had been selected as a member of the NASA Astronaut Class of 2000. I found myself very fortunately with 16 other people that would make up the eighteenth group of NASA astronauts. 

Flying in space is most certainly the goal of any astronaut, but what you have to accept is that no matter how quickly you get assigned to your first space flight you are ultimately going to spend the majority of your time as an astronaut working here on the planet. Fortunately, the work and training is all very cool, and has been filled with challenges and opportunities to experience things that I’m pretty certain wouldn’t have been possible for me otherwise. 
The past 9 years have been fun and the time has flown by. Along the way my husband and I have been blessed with a beautiful son, I have visited places around the world that I never imagined I would ever have the chance to see, and we have made some lifelong friends. And now, to top it off, I’m going to have the amazing opportunity to fly in space—launching this summer on the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-128, living and working for 4 months as a crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS), and then returning to Earth on the Space Shuttle Atlantis mission STS-129.  

Look for our interview with Stott in our September issue, on newsstands since August 25.

First Published Fri, 2009-08-14 09:52

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