Details: Well, I am technically the son of an astronaut, but as my dad doesn't have the time to hover around the thread as questions develop, I'll be moderating for him. As such, I'll be taking the questions that are not completely asinine and handing them over to him to answer, then relaying it back here. Alternatively, you can ask him a question on his facebook or twitter pages. He is really busy, but he's agreed to do this for redditors as long as they have patience with the speed of his answers.


Note: This is a continuation of a thread I made in the AMA subreddit. You can see the previous comments here:

Edit: It appears that the questions received are taking a serious turn for the worse. Apparently, the anonymity of the internet is winning over the general desire for serious Q&A. As such, I'll be leaving the thread from here on out, and stop answering questions. If I didn't answer your question directly yet -- look around, because it may have been answered elsewhere (I had been informing people when their question had already been answered, but they got very rude very quickly so I quit), and if not don't be afraid to ask on twitter or facebook. That way, he'll be able to give you a bit more face time. Thanks to all who took it seriously and participated. For the most part, it was an enriching and enjoyable experience.

Comments: 2227 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

jaksiemasz602 karma

Would you consider going on a one-way mission to Mars to be the first person to visit?

DoctorNose1144 karma

"Yes. I would be honoured to be given the opportunity."

CaptnHector315 karma

How do you (not your father) feel about that?

DoctorNose819 karma

I'd be sad to see him leave, proud to see him go.

johnnythebiochemist90 karma

Son, how would you feel about your dad leaving the planet forever? Obviously a mix of pride and sadness, but in the end, would you say "go?"

DoctorNose358 karma

In a tearful heartbeat.

BlorfMonger475 karma

What does the ISS smell like? Is it like fresh air conditioning, or like a locker room?

DoctorNose824 karma

"It smells clean, like a tidy laboratory, with a hint of machine."

magusg403 karma

I just have a request. I want to see a picture of him holding up a picture of the reddit alien on the ISS.

DoctorNose335 karma

I'll ask, but... Can it be in digital photograph format?

peno_asslace363 karma

Space sex?

DoctorNose477 karma

From the other thread:

"Not yet - bad for crew psychology, no bathing facilities, tight quarters, professional respect. But once we get enough people there, eventually, of course."

[deleted]281 karma

space...uh....(cough).... space pleasuring of oneself?

DoctorNose244 karma

See above. I also answered that elsewhere.

emiteal336 karma

We always see photos of the Earth taken from the space station, but obviously any time the Earth or Moon are in the shot, you can't see any stars due to the exposure level.

What do the stars look like when you're physically in space looking at them? Is the arm of the Milky way visible from the space station? Is it as amazing or more amazing than a really clear night on the Earth?

I've been wondering about this for a while and haven't been able to Google up an answer. Obviously telescopes get amazing photos from up there, but I'm more curious about what the human eye can see.

DoctorNose544 karma

"Yes - that part of the sky is indeed milky. And with no air particles in the way, the stars don't twinkle - they shine as steady points of light."

NeverInformed280 karma

Please tell me what it's like to FLOAT ??

DoctorNose475 karma

"It is the most amazing experience you can know. Once you get over the sickness from your inner ear getting used to not having an up or down, that is."

emiteal116 karma

How similar is it to floating in a pool? NASA says it's similar in their explanations for the training you guys go through, but you mention inner ear sickness while adjusting, and I don't find that a common problem in a pool! :) If you can put any subtleties about the difference into words, 'twould be much appreciated!

DoctorNose323 karma

"Imagine floating in a pool without water, if you can. We train in the pool because it is the closest approximation we have on earth, but nothing can do it true justice. The inner ear problem comes from your body no longer having a judge of up and down. Without an up and down, your balance becomes out of whack, your body thinks you're poisoned and you vomit. Makes the first day less enjoyable."

Gaelach216 karma

Have you thrown up in space? Is that... messy?

DoctorNose368 karma

"Yes, and yes."

OccamsRizr76 karma

Did you throw up both times you were in space, or were you used to it enough a second time that you didn't get sick?

DoctorNose158 karma

Sorry to point you to wikipedia, but it does have a good explanation of space vomit:

Edit: He was better the second time, but the two flights were half a decade apart.

cityeng274 karma

Did seeing the planet from that perspective change your view of humanity, and how?

EDIT (from Eraser1024's reply): How about your views on ethics and on religion?

Do you think it would be helpful for human civilization to require all world leaders take a lap or two around the planet - just to get that perspective?

DoctorNose292 karma

"There are astronauts of all beliefs, from devout to atheist. The experience reinforces them. I keep my beliefs private."

Edit: "It reinforced it. You don't make it as far as spaceflight without having a personal belief system, atheist or otherwise."

username10398 karma

Do you think it would be helpful for human civilization to require all world leaders take a lap or two around the planet - just to get that perspective?

Must speed up plans for world domination peace.

DoctorNose254 karma

"Yes - I wish every human could see our world as one place with their own eyes. It is vitally humbling."

DoorknobSpeaking245 karma

You came to my school on a day I was absent and I've yet to forgive myself. I also did a project on you in the sixth grade. You're awesome :)

My question is, do you think the colonization of space is a viable possibility in the next hundred or so years?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

DoctorNose45 karma

"Of course! We have been permanently living off the planet on ISS for over a decade. It is our first permanent step away from home, as a species."

AmericanMustache240 karma

I've heard that astronauts see flashes of light behind closed eyelids due to cosmic radiation. Have you experienced this?

DoctorNose354 karma

"Yes, we all have. It is beautiful and a stark reminder of the power of stars - like the Northern Lights."

[deleted]231 karma

How does pooping feel like in zero gravity?

DoctorNose408 karma

"Well, drafty, because you're attached to a vacuum tube."

DashingLeech206 karma

As a Canadian astronaut, are there any Canadian space technologies he's particularly proud of? The Canadarm is an obvious one, but there is a lot of Canadian technology on the shuttles and space station. Are there others he finds impressive?

DoctorNose345 karma

Dad was the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm and did spacewalk to install the Canadarm 2. I can assure you without asking that they are his pride and joy.

MovieMan57128 karma

How does it feel to be a second-favorite child? Next to a robotic arm?

DoctorNose142 karma

Pretty sweet.

ptsaq185 karma

What is more physically draining the launch or the landing? On the Shuttle if the pilots were to lose computer navigation would there be any real chance to manually land the craft safely?

DoctorNose222 karma

"Shuttle launch is harsher, Soyuz entry is harshest - very, very violent. We can purely manually fly both vehicles back from orbit."

admiralbones182 karma

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

DoctorNose356 karma

As the moderator, I am going to pull an answer from the other thread.

"I decided to become an astronaut on 20 Jul 69, when I was 9. I never doubted myself, just circumstances. I've been very lucky."

Cheesejaguar163 karma

Interesting coincidence, I decided to become an astronaut at age 9 as well. That's the year I was finally old enough to attend Space Camp. Not quite there yet :-) maybe about halfway there. Finishing up my degree in Aerospace Engineering and then we'll see where life takes me.

Any tips for the astronaut selection process?

DoctorNose392 karma

"Be better than the competition."

whats8179 karma

Astronomically, what do you think the greatest discovery will be before you die?

DoctorNose710 karma

"The beauty of exploration is that you don't know the discovery until it is discovered. I don't know."

the_shape161 karma

What type of fun games do astronauts play up there during the downtime? (the best answer will be what NASA hates the most)

DoctorNose378 karma

From the other thread:

"ISS end-end races, zero G hide and go seek, and velcro darts."

DabnusShamer148 karma

What's the best non-obvious perk to being an astronaut?

DoctorNose252 karma

"Well, that's hard to say. I guess I'd say respect."

bandman61496 karma

I was going to ask...does being an astronaut get you free beer in every bar you go to?

DoctorNose13 karma

Son's note: When you're in the family, or him especially, you usually keep it quiet. Often times you just end up answering the same eight questions over, and over, and over, and over. A beer isn't worth that.

[deleted]146 karma

What's the biggest difference between the public image of the space program and how it actually is? Like what do the public not know about an organization that sends people into space.

How well does NASA calculate and communicate the chances of the loss of spacecraft? I've gotten the sense that they know this pretty well, but that it's hidden from the public. Like there was a 5% chance for the space shuttle and that was almost exactly when the Challenger was lost. Then it was lowered to ~1% and that was almost exactly when the when Columbia was lost (statistically).

PS - Thanks for what you do! I think it's amazing, liek the best thing humanity has done.

DoctorNose248 karma

Son's note: The funny thing about knowing all the info before reading a news article is you get to see how much shit they make up to fool the public. You can safely assume 99% of what is said in a newspaper article is made to make spaceflight look either more dangerous, less interesting, or more interesting than it actually is. In short, it is a pack of lies.

The public could know everything about NASA if they just looked at the thousand of blogs and articles published by NASA employees to inform the public. But people would rather try and make things seem more "out there".

piejesus142 karma

How long do you think it will take for us walk on Mars?

DoctorNose316 karma

"It is a complicated question that is up to more than just those who want to see it done. We have the skills and the capacity. All we need now is the will."

[deleted]28 karma


DoctorNose88 karma

You'd be amazed.

Edit: It's either that or a terrible pun.

daybreaker46 karma

His dad is an astronaut. "Badass" is his middle name.

DoctorNose140 karma

Austin, actually.

DoctorNose171 karma

A second answer:

"It depends on our choices and needs. We could be there in just a couple years if Earth was fatally threatened, and we prioritized budgets that way. But for pure science and research it will be much longer. We really need to invent the next level of engine technology to make it practical - like from propellers to jets, from sail to steam."

yotz131 karma

As someone who works in ISS Operations (Med Ops), please tell your father I look forward to working with him.

DoctorNose124 karma

You should let him know in person when you see him. Tell him you were here when he did the Q/A, and he'll undoubtedly be pleased.

dochoff121 karma

I know a lot of people question the benefits of human space flight. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think manned missions will continue to play a large roll in Nasa's future? I have always been under the impression that, if nothing else, human space flight is immensely valuable for its inspiration alone (especially to kids wanting to study science). Cheers,

DoctorNose208 karma

"Space flight would not be nearly as amazing if it were done without humans manning the wheel. As of right now, humans are the best control system we've got, especially when things go wrong. It is nothing but a good idea to have humans see, experience, and respond to space flight."

--HAL9000--507 karma

I beg to differ, Dave.

JustinHopewell99 karma

Shut up and open these goddamn pod bay doors, HAL.

DoctorNose65 karma

I don't know how we would have found the obelisk without HAL's calming voice.

alax_rang114 karma

What is your educational background?

Does a space mission require a several different specialists, or do you mostly have the same interests/expertise?

What are the physical requirements for going into space?

As I imagine you're actually in space for the most part, what kind of work do you do during "off" times?

DoctorNose193 karma

"The requirements for going to space are obviously rigorous, both physically and mentally. Physically, astronauts are expected to be in top shape. There are also height restrictions (due to shuttle and suit sizes). My background is in mechanical engineering, and I was a experimental test pilot before getting selected."

"There is no real off time. Astronauts train for flights upwards of four years in advance. On top of that, there is capcom, PR work, and a variety of conferences and other behind the scenes duties."

kaltunes114 karma

How does it feel to do something that millions dream about every day?

DoctorNose297 karma

"It is a humbling thing to be able to live your dream, let alone the dreams of others."

thelanor109 karma

How long did it take you to grow that phenomenal mustache seen in your facebook picture?

DoctorNose184 karma

Son's note: He's been working on that his whole life. I'm trying my best, but I'm a couple years behind.

According to photos my grandma showed me, he rocked a mean white man's 'fro in the 70's.

dicknickallen108 karma

How is sleeping in space? I imagine it would amazing not needing to toss and turn.

DoctorNose128 karma

Son's answer: You're strapped in a foldaway closet. To me, it has always looked uncomfortable.

DiggedToDeath95 karma

How well do space showers work? Does it start getting rank up there with the crew after a while? I imagine living up there being like living in a submarine, except much more cramped.

DoctorNose169 karma

There are no showers in space. You just get dirty.

From the other thread:

"It is just as awkward as being on an outdoor camping trip with five friends."

Edit: Sponge baths.

dave16892 karma

What would be your dream mission?

DoctorNose179 karma

"I would love to go to Mars. It is the next logical step for man, and obviously I would love to be a part of that."

[deleted]79 karma

What, in his opinion, will be the breakthrough that makes bringing cargo to orbit affordable enough to establish larger space stations and commence further exploration and/or asteroid mining?

A space elevator? Cheaper fuels? Something else?

DoctorNose164 karma

"A space elevator is more science fiction than science. However, man has made science fiction into science before. As necessity is the mother of all invention, I'd say that we are likely to develop fastest what we decide we want or need the most."

rjbman78 karma

What would you say is the coolest thing about being in space?

DoctorNose155 karma

"Weightlessness is one of the most amazing things you can ever experience. Breaking free from the bonds of earth not only shows what man can achieve, but also feels pretty cool. :)"

synergyATL73 karma

In your opinion, if NASA could have an unlimited budget for the next 100 years, what are a few things everyone over there would want to accomplish? (btw, if I could check a box on my tax return for all my money to go to NASA, I would check it every year.)

DoctorNose143 karma

"The obvious answer here is Mars. It is a great dream of mine, as well as a great number of my colleagues, to head to the next step in our solar system. However, I also have colleagues such as Ed Lu (retired) who are very focused on the idea of near earth asteroids and collision avoidance. In my field, dreams are easy to come by."

Jasonresno72 karma

First thoughts as you took off on your first launch?

DoctorNose169 karma

From the other thread:

"Launch is like being shaken in a huge dog's jaws, while pushed from the Earth by an unstoppable unseen giant force."

redditor300072 karma

What do you do for fun in space?

DoctorNose172 karma

"Well, to put it simply, everything. It is a job you train for years to do, and when you get there you simply relish it."

tomygun371 karma

Do you think NASA should do away with the space shuttle?

DoctorNose150 karma

"NASA is not 'doing away' with the space shuttle. The space shuttle retirement has been coming for a long time, and was not a surprise to anyone. The space shuttles were amazing machines -- among the greatest ever built. I am very excited for what we will build next."

betterredthendead59 karma

What is your level of education? How did you get on the path to become an astronaut? Was it a childhood dream? How, out of the millions upon millions of people that want to go into space are you that one person who gets the opportunity? At what point did it go from a dream to a tangible reality? Good luck and please stay safe :-)

DoctorNose129 karma

Without asking Dad -- the answer is that he decided to be an astronaut after watching the moon landing as a child. He went out, saw the moon, and just went into gear. Keep in mind this was a time when Canada had no opportunity or possible future in space. Since that day, he joined the air cadets, went to military college for mechanical engineering, became an experimental pilot and took the most complicated and dangerous jobs possible. Years later, he was recognized for it and became an astronaut. To him, it was always a reality just waiting to happen.

[deleted]39 karma

Do you have any interest in following in his footsteps? Is it something that he would encourage?

DoctorNose262 karma

I run a European backpack touring company and am getting my MBA. So... no.

Edit: He is proud of me for achieving success. He doesn't care if it is terrestrial.

Rancor_Spankor57 karma

I think you are super awesome and super brave. I would very much like to give you a high five.

DoctorNose78 karma

He'd happily high-five you back. Go and see him talk some time and you'll see.

Sedern56 karma

Where do you see human kind in 100 years of now?

DoctorNose92 karma

"People rarely change, ingraining themselves and familiarizing themselves with new technologies. I sincerely hope whatever we are doing, we're still doing it in space."

The_password_is_11153 karma

How the fuck does Kelso have a brazillion twitter followers and A FUCKING ASTRONAUT WHO WALKS AROUND IN SPACE has 1600?

DoctorNose98 karma

Maybe because his social-media PR agent is his son? Also, people just don't care about space like they should imo.

[deleted]51 karma


DoctorNose134 karma

From the other thread:

"I wasn't really scared at all, due to the years of training and accurate simulation. Fear comes from the unknown and lack of control, 2 things I minimize in my life."

[deleted]49 karma

I've always been curious as to how one becomes an astronaut in general. Are you pruned from military service? Do you apply? And would you say the qualifications looked for are more physical/psychological strength and robustness or intellect/mental agility? Sorry for the rapidfire questions and thanks for doing the AMA!

DoctorNose71 karma

"You apply. The classes come from a wide field of applicants from various professions. Dave Williams is a doctor, I'm a pilot, Drew Feustel is a geophysicist, etc."

Son's note: They take all types. You just have to be at the top of your field, in a field that could theoretically benefit NASA or the CSA at that time. The qualifications are both for physical robustness and mental skill. Candidates generally are very adept at both.

fliffnight48 karma

is there anything that compares to getting to gaze back at earth from orbit?

DoctorNose114 karma


Dad has a funny story about getting nauseous on a spacewalk, only to realize that Africa was cresting in the background as they rotated around earth, and setting off his body's balance.

Jsk200339 karma

I'm sorry, I don't quite understand, why would that affect him?

sab3r106 karma

One of the causes of nauseousness is that the brain is getting conflicting signals from the eyes and the ears. In the context of the above example, being in space means that your ears cannot determine orientation and motion very well but seeing that the Earth was rotating (and therefore realizing that you are actually moving) prompted the brain to be confused. On the one hand, your ears are saying that are you not moving. On the other hand, your eyes are saying that you are moving. Its thought that this conflict in signals prompts the brain to respond by inducing nauseousness to remove whatever "poison" that is causing the brain from being able to respond properly.

By the way, this is also the reason for most forms of motion sickness. Interesting side note: one tends to get carsick more easily if one sits in the rear versus the front. Sitting in the front, your vision tends to be more focused on the forward view whereas sitting in the back, one's field of view tends to be not focused on anything in particular. This results in your eyes telling your brain that you really aren't moving while the ears can detect the motion of the car and are telling your brain that you are moving.

Small edit.

DoctorNose17 karma

Thanks -- exactly.

username10346 karma

If you had to take a stance on Pluto what would it be?

DoctorNose98 karma

"Knock-kneed. :)"

Kadover41 karma

What is your opinion on the de-funding of some of the Orion projects in lieu of more private modes of transport?

DoctorNose63 karma

"I think that people are more apt to make an uneducated opinion of something than take the fifteen minutes to research the actuality behind it. Public comprehension of Constellation falls well into this category."

Son's note: I think that the future is only the future once it is made. Dad has great faith in man's ability to advance itself. Both ideas show promise, and it is best to let politics work itself out and work hard towards what you can.

daaaaaaaane33 karma

Awesome AMA. Reading his wiki page, it says he has flown over 70 types of aircraft. Does he have a favourite aircraft to pilot?

DoctorNose49 karma

"Yes - the F-86 Sabre. A wonderfully liberating human invention, allowing us experience into the 3rd dimension."

lonlonlon23 karma

How did it feel when looking back at the planet for the first time from space? Did it get you emotional, teary or anything?

Do you think humanity is in danger of self destruction? (Overpopulation, Scare resources etc.)

DoctorNose40 karma

"The beauty is stupefying - the colours and textures of our Earth in its entirety stop thought.

We need to be good stewards of our home planet, to keep it healthy for us. We also need to not exaggerate the importance of our personal 75 years of life. Orbit is a superb place to understand our planet as a self-sustaining environment."

who_is_3litE23 karma


DoctorNose57 karma

"Lightning at night is awesome - thousands of km of arcing light and power. The Bahamas are stunningly beautiful, so much gorgeous shallow reef, all the hues. I like seeing meteor craters - visible reminders of Earth's place and past. And hurricanes are HUGE - like Jupiter's red spot."

realzondarg21 karma

Of all astronauts currently working for NASA, only very few have been or will ever go to space. Is there a thing such as 'space envy' among astronauts? And do 'real astronauts' (figuratively) look down on their earth-bound counterparts?

DoctorNose50 karma

"All but 10 of NASA's current astronauts have flown. Humility is rampant, silent pride perforce, belittlement very rare."

SomeSortaMaroon19 karma

Does your dad believe his awesome mustache has anything to do with his success?

DoctorNose31 karma

No, but I do.

InTheBay16 karma

What is the delay in voice chat like from the space shuttle to earth.

Also, do you guys get internet up there?

DoctorNose23 karma

"About 1.5 seconds. We have the equivalent of extremely slow, intermittent dial-up."

fuwath15 karma

Awesome, Chirs Hadfield is from my city of Sarnia, Ontario. He's a complete hero to a lot of us Sarnians. I have no questions, but I salute your father with respect.

DoctorNose46 karma

Son's note: So is Sid Meyer, inventor of Civilization!

einperson14 karma

Have you ever recognized a feature special to you on the Earth when you were looking down from space?

DoctorNose44 karma

Son's answer: Yes. You can see the skydome in Toronto, because it is white with a black background. Specific highways are clearly visible. Even a large bonfire in a really black area would be visible. However, the great wall of china is not.

Ask_Anything12 karma

How do astronauts deal with their natural sexual urges while in space? Does zero G lower the sex drive?

DoctorNose35 karma

Son's answer: Professionalism lowers sex drive. The senses are already overburdened.

Quady12 karma

This is a question for you, the son, not your dad. How does your family feel when your Dad is in space? Do you get to travel to the launch site to see the launch? How worried was your mom the first time he went up?

DoctorNose24 karma

Honestly? Much like with airplanes, it scares me more and more as I get older.

My mom is nervous crossing an empty street. I'm surprised she hasn't had a heart attack from the stress.


FYI: AMAs must reach a minimum karma score of 100 before it's considered for processing