I've flown on 3 shuttle missions: STS-89 (Endeavor); STS-104 (Atlantis); and STS-117 (Atlantis). Endeavor docked with Mir, while the 2 Atlantis missions docked with the International Space Station. Total hours in space over 853 hours. 5 spacewalks totaling over 31 hours. Proof - pic.twitter.com/Z2Ek7FAZoE

Thanks for the questions! This was my first time on Reddit and it was a lot of fun. If you get the chance, come see Atlantis here in FL. I guarantee that you will be enthralled. You will see her as only we saw her in space. It is truly awesome! Adios!

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Thanks for the questions! This was my first time on Reddit and it was a lot of fun. If you get the chance, come see Atlantis here in FL. I guarantee that you will be enthralled. You will see her as only we saw her in space. It is truly awesome! Adios!

ajrgcpro9 karma

What was the craziest thing that happened in space?


Possibly the craziest was that I was even there! When I think of the odds, I find it incredible that I was able to share that experience.

More in the "crazy" realm where some of the practical jokes that got pulled on each other. For example, my first crew all had their "boarding passes" for the shuttle and I didn't. When you worked at the Cape you had to have passes for everything. We lived in fear of violating that requirement so when I didn't have that "pass", I flipped internally. My expression must have been priceless!

YesRocketScience8 karma

Two topics, Dr. Reilly:

  1. How loud is the environment of the ISS? Is it louder than, say, a vacuum cleaner running in your house all day? Is it loud enough to have to wear ear protection, and is it any quieter in the Russian/ESA/Japanese modules?

  2. Are you still with American Military University/ American Public University?

Edit: one more - - when you put on a space suit, is it pants first, or top first?


Noise in the ISS was something we looked at very hard before we built it. We wanted to avoid putting the crew into an environment where the noise level was significant enough to cause hearing issues when exposed for long periods. Requirements were levied against everything that went into ISS so that the cumulative effect stayed low enough to be of minimal risk to the crew. In the ISS, however, I hardly remember much other than the "white noise" of the ventilation system as it was running. I've since listened to the background noise that we recorded for the IMAX Space Station 3D movie and there is a lot more in the background than I remember. One "geeky" moment occurred for me in the Airlock, though, that was the result of all those fans and mechanisms working. While working late to outfit the toolbags, I noticed what I thought was a woman singing a capella and without words. Looking out I noted that no one else was anywhere nearby and the "music" quit as soon as I stuck my head out of the hatch. After a few minutes, I realized that the sound was only noticeable in a small volume inside the crew lock and was likely the response to harmonic interferences in some of the tonals. It was pretty neat, though! Of the modules, the JEM wasn't there when I was so I can't answer that. In the Russian Segment, it was a bit louder, as I recall, but not significantly. It was a lot of different noises since the mechanisms were a lot different. I am still with AMU/APUS and I work part-time in the marketing department these days. In addition, I also teach professional development courses for the USAF, USN, and other allied military services in space operations subjects. Depending on the space suit, we don the torso (top) first for the EVA Mobility Unit (EMU) we do the space walks in and both for the Launch and Entry Suits (LES) since they are essentially one-piece units where we enter through zippered openings in the back (sort of like a reverse cicada...)

Willb3tray4food6 karma

At what point, if ever, did you get sick of zero gravity?


I never got tired of being in space. In fact, it was amazing how fast the trips went by. One nice thing about being here to see Atlantis on display is to actually have the time to see her where I can just enjoy the experience without having to work to a schedule. A couple things about being in microgravity, or free fall, is the ability to lose things is much worse in that something "dropped" can disappear in three dimensions instead of two. It's amazing how fast something will drift away and then disappear for days in space. Once we get back home we do have to be careful about how we set things aside. In space you can just set them in the air next to you. Doing that here doesn't work so well if you choose to do that with a beer, for example...

FeelzGood4 karma

What's the deal with Aliens and UFOs? Is Edgar Mitchell just crazy?


I haven't talked to Ed personally about his experience but I certainly don't think he's crazy. In terms of the possibility of life existing elsewhere, I feel the odds are likely pretty good that it exists. In fact, we might find really simple forms on Mars and I try to keep up with Curiosity and what the lab is seeing. In terms of someone else coming to visit us, the distances even to the nearest star are so great that they would have to be using technologies much more advanced than anything we could comprehend. I know that if I were one of those folks, I might be duly unimpressed and might not do anything but note the existence on my map and keep going...

queen_annes_lace4 karma

When you were up in the shuttle and you looked at the earth, what did it make you feel? Was it happiness or awe because of the view? Or loneliness being so far away? Also thank you or answering, my dad is going to flip he loves space exploration! You're a boss!


Seeing the earth from space was breath-taking. In fact, that will probably be our most popular pastime when we have it is to hang out in the windows and watch the world go by. As a geologist, it was possibly even more exciting since that was what I studied for all those years and now, here it is, right there in front of me! One special event was recreated for me yesterday when I visited the Atlantis exhibit here at KSC: on my first EVA I took Yuri Usachev's advice and spent 10 seconds just looking around. I was on the CANADARM and Janet had just pulled me up out of the payload bay. I leaned back and looked past the tail of Atlantis and there was the earth drifting along below us. I won't reveal too much, but when you step out in front of Atlantis you will get a view of of what I saw that day. I spent a couple of minutes just staring at that and reliving the moment. Interestingly, I never felt loneliness or had a distance perception. Tell your dad thanks for the support!

meteordes3 karma

What are the steps to becoming an astronaut? Space travel has always been my dream.


Good news: you will probably be able to buy a ticket to space in our lifetimes. One of the things I've been asked a lot while here at KSC for the opening of the Atlantis exhibit is: what's the future since we've retired the Shuttle? With the Shuttle we've opened up the low earth orbit environment where exploration is now in the research exploitation phase. In other words, we are now routinely doing science aboard our orbital research laboratories in the ISS and have started flying commercial spacecraft to support the station. Your steps to space will likely be different than mine and that is you are more likely to be a "space researcher" than what would have been the classical "astronaut operator" types. In short, though, what I tell students today is to pursue what you will do best, be the best you can, and be persistent in pursuing your dream. If becoming an astronaut is it, then consider what it is you want to do in space and be very good at whatever that is or in the tasks here on earth that fit that mold. Also, make sure you like others since you will be sealed up with your colleagues for awhile!

YesRocketScience3 karma

Docking question - - you've docked with both Mir and the ISS. The ISS docking was along the velocity vector (V-bar) but the Mir docking was along the Earth-radius, or R-bar vector. Did you notice a difference between the two in docking? Did you feel safer with either approach?


Really the only difference was our perspective in the rendezvous. There were some minor orbital mechanics effects that occurred as we flew the different approaches, but those were things we anticipated and corrected as we flew out the corrections and final approach. As for safety, I would say either would be equally safe but if I had to choose one over the other, I would probably take the V-bar approach since we could "hop" our way into the docking where natural braking helped a little bit.

bunnytrox3 karma

Was there something crazy you wanted to do in space but NASA wouldn't let you?


Me being in space was crazy enough for NASA... One thing I would have loved to do would have been to fly the SAFER, our EVA rescue "jet pack". Training in the virtual reality lab was a lot of fun and I would have loved flying away from the vehicle a short distance, turning away so I couldn't see the ISS or Shuttle, then hanging out looking into space. There's a great painting titled "Attitude Hold" that captures that theme and I would have loved to do that for real.

TWFM3 karma

Does NASA follow up with their retired astronauts regarding their health? Do you see them for regular checkups regarding things like osteoporosis, or any other side effects of space travel? Is someone collecting all this data? Or do they leave monitoring of such things to your regular civilian doctors, once you're out of the program?


Actually NASA does indeed keep track of our health study in what is knows as a Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health. This is essentially an annual physical we undergo to keep track of what happens to us over time and to see what, if anything, is an increased risk for space fliers. One of the other studies is to see how we correct for symptoms of spaceflight effects that are similar to earthbound afflictions. Calcium loss that is similar to osteoporosis is one of them and we look before, during, and after flight at the long-duration fliers to see how they respond. Fortunately, there appears to be little significant issues for us in terms of our health effects.

YesRocketScience2 karma

What are the biggest challenges in managing your post-spaceflight career? With now hundreds of astronauts available as motivational speakers, is there a saturation point for meetings and conventions?


I sure hope not! Fortunately, some of us like that duty and others do not so we will probably always be in demand. In addition, we each have unique perspectives and experiences that we can provide that will hopefully be enough to keep us busy. I am lucky in that the folks here at the KSC Visitor Center pay us to come visit with the public and share our stories. This week we are opening the Atlantis exhibit which gives a lot of us who flew on her the opportunity to tell our stories. To be honest, I am really looking forward to hearing a lot of other perspectives in the stories of my friends. The interesting thing about post-NASA careers is the question on "What's next?" For me, it turned out not to be the "what's next" but the where? I now live in Colorado and love it. I don't imagine that I will leave there but then I have also learned to never say "never"...

Austin4050x2 karma

Was your first space trip outrageously fun? Was transitioning to 0G weird/freaky? Would you ever want to go back? What is the closest thing you can think of 0G?


I would go back to space in a heartbeat! As for fun, it was incredibly outrageous! The one thing I remember and treasure on all three flights, but particularly on my second one, was all the laughing that we did while in training and in space. We work 16 hour days so we have very tight schedules but we always found time to have fun.
As for transitioning to being in space, it actually seems a bit disorienting for the first couple of days. Imagine that you have to learn how to walk as soon as you get out of the seatbelts after MECO. It takes a couple of days to get used to it but once you do, it is a blast to float through the vehicle like a fish in the water. Once we get home, though, you have to get used to being in 1G again. As for the closest approximation, being in the water is how we train and it is pretty similar. The one big difference in space is the drag you get in the water is missing. In fact, on my first space walk, I had to concentrate on diong things with a lot less effort so I wouldn't go too fast.

PawnShop8041 karma

What were your thoughts during your first flight? What about your last? Thanks for doing this AMA!


First flight I was repeating Al Shepard's "Astronaut's Prayer": Please, God, don't let me screw this up! That flight went by so fast I almost don't remember a lot of it. On my last flight, I was a bit smarter and spent a few moments every day writing down a few words or phrases that would trigger memories so I could go back after the flight and remember some of the experiences. I am in the process of capturing all that to put in a book a friend and I are writing.
One thing about the last flight, though, was the incredible sense of "what now?" while on the runway at Edwards. I knew it was likely my last flight since there were lots of people behind us that hadn't flown and I needed to step aside. That was a powerfully emotional moment.