Hello reddit, I'm excited to be answering your questions again since my previous AMA.

I'm honored to be a part of the new film, PLANETARY, available now on Vimeo on-demand. You can see more about PLANETARY here: http://weareplanetary.com

It's a film that discusses the environmental and societal trajectory of our planet.

I'm looking forward to your questions. Victoria's helping me get started. AMA!


Comments: 176 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

ruthie14712 karma

Hi Ron, do you think more astronauts should go into politics? (e.g. Campaigning for environment etc.). Thanks!

RonGaran80 karma

No, I think more politicians should go to space.

RonGaran38 karma

I believe the more people that see our planet from the Orbital Perspective the better off we will all be.

FatherSpacetime11 karma

What is your opinion of "The Great Filter" as a hypothesis for why we have not discovered extraterrestrial life?


RonGaran11 karma

The true answer to your question is I don't know. We live in a really big universe. So it makes sense that there'd be life. But it's also possible that there's not.

FunkedItUp11 karma

To what degree do astronauts get privacy while on the ISS?

Does ground control track your movements through the station or location? Can ground control communicate with you at any time, or do they have to call and you answer if you're available?

RonGaran11 karma

The ISS is a very big place during work hours Mission Control only knows where we are if we are in the view of one of the ISS cameras. We have radio contact nearly continuously and someone will always answer asap when mission control calls.

rv49er10 karma

How often do you see flashes in your eyes from interstellar radiation? How bright are they?

RonGaran10 karma

At night, when you close your eyes to sleep, you see them frequently, and they seem like either flashes or streaks of light.

_Bobbin5 karma

Is this a lasting side effect from being in space, or something that happens in space? I've never heard of this. I'm confused and curious.

RonGaran8 karma

It only happens while in space

JohnCondren9 karma

Hi Ron, Thank you for doing this AMA. My question is what do you think space travel will be like in the next 200 years?

RonGaran7 karma

I think in a lot less time than that: flying on a spacecraft will be as common as flying on an aircraft is today.

justfor1t9 karma

What should be more researched, oceans or outer space?

RonGaran12 karma

Both have tremendous unknowns and can provide benefits for our world. Both should be explored.

gabboman8 karma

What has been your best experience? And the worst?

RonGaran18 karma

In space my best experience was looking at our planet while out on a spacewalk. The worst was when a piece of space junk almost hit the ISS

Identimental8 karma

Could you elaborate? Was there anything you could do about it or did you just have to wait, hoping it wouldn't hit?

RonGaran17 karma

Normally, since we track all pieces of space junk bigger than a certain size, if a piece will get close to the ISS, we can move the orbit of the space station (raise or lower the altitude). For a reason I don't know this one caught us by surprise. All we could do was close every hatch on the ISS including the hatch to our Soyuz spacecrafts and wait in our Soyuz until the object passed (it passed within 300 meters).

JonnnyFive8 karma

Ron, what's your favorite sport? Did you ever watch sports on the ISS?

RonGaran6 karma

American Football. We not only watched sports sometimes we played them.

iBeyy8 karma

Hey Ron, what did you find was more of a rush, escape velocity sitting there just experiencing it, or high G turns in a jet where you pilot it yourself?

Just a question Ive always wondered.

RonGaran7 karma

They're both awesome!

hak0918 karma

Do you have a favorite space movie?

RonGaran23 karma

Apollo 13. Because of the realism, the heroism, and the beauty of the cinematography.

RonGaran7 karma

Hey everyone I have to take a break for a coupe of hours. I will circle back as soon as I can and answer as many of your questions as I can. Keep em' coming!

ayk1236 karma

What kind of training did you have to do to become an astronaut?

RonGaran5 karma

Everything from classroom to simulators, language, physical and aircraft training. Most of things we're trained on are procedures we'll hopefully never use (various emergency procedures)

gabboman6 karma

What do you miss the most from the earth when you're in space?

RonGaran18 karma

Pizza & Beer. In space, you can get a decent cup of space-coffee, but you can't get a cup of decent space-beer.

jwiechers5 karma


it was great meeting you at OYW 2014 and discussing things with you! :-)

PLANETARY was a wonderful and moving experience, but getting back to space, your record for the longest stay in space will probably be broken soon, but what do you think about the real "longer" term, do you think we'll have long-term habitats within our lifetime?

RonGaran9 karma

Actually I do not have any longest stay in space record. Even if I did it would have been broken soon by Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko who are spending a continuous year on the ISS!

Pineapplechok5 karma

Who do you most look up to? Do you think astronauts don't get enough publicity, or do you not really care?

RonGaran10 karma

I look up to people who are making a positive difference in our world no matter big or small. Astronauts have all been given a very unique perspective of our world and I certainly feel a responsibility to share that perspective. To the extent that "publicity" can be used to share the perspective of our planet from space to inspire people to make a difference, I think it's a good thing.

MrPennywhistle5 karma

Hey Ron. I made you laugh one time with a cat.

I'm a civil servant who dreams of being an astronaut. I've recently started a space series and hope to do several videos with you guys in Houston in the coming months. Might you be interested in working together on something together?

RonGaran5 karma

Sounds like fun!

RonGaran6 karma

All the best on your quest to become an astronaut. It's a great job and the space program needs all the help it can get. We've got a big Universe to explore.

Tucana664 karma

Hi Ron - NASA astronauts are the equivalent of A-list rock stars and actors to some of us. It is incredibly impressive to understand the education, training, qualifications and patience the astronaut candidates have.

Where do you see inspiration coming from for the next generations of astronauts? I would say sci-fi, like Star Trek, but want to know what YOU think.

RonGaran4 karma

Great question I'm not sure I'm the right person to ask. I can only say where my inspiration came from which was the Moon landings. I was inspired to become a part of the program to explore our Solar System. Today my inspiration comes from people who are making positive contributions to our future no mater how big or how small

Mr_Anderson1194 karma

Thanks for the AMA. On Wikipedia, it said you have had 4 EVAs, how exiting was your first one?

RonGaran15 karma

It was about as exciting as exciting gets but on my 1st spacewalk I had a difficult time fully believing what I was seeing was real. It was almost as if part of my brain was saying "look at this amazing beautiful experience" but another part of my brain was saying "Yes, it beautiful but it's not real" It was almost s if I was watching everything unfold before me like I was watching a movie. By my 4th it was like going into my own backyard

ASTU103 karma

Ron, what's your favourite cheese?

RonGaran10 karma


stayonthecloud2 karma

One hundred years from now, what do you envision humanity will have achieved in space?

RonGaran6 karma

Colonization of other planets in our Solar System and the start of human exploration outside it.

NorbitGorbit2 karma

what is the oldest piece of technology still in use in space travel that could be replaced but isn't for whatever reason, and which piece simply can't be replaced because there is no modern counterpart?

RonGaran3 karma

Probably the Soyuz spacecraft but why replace something that works great. If it aint broke don't fix it. I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to your 2nd question. Does anyone know?

jimothy992 karma

What differences, if any, are there in training to live on the ocean floor to living in space?

RonGaran5 karma

The big difference is we get to know our neighbors when living and working on the ocean floor. Both have incredible views, both are hostile environments where we need to depend on life support for our survival both involve scientific research - AND both were AWESOME

manager_dave2 karma

did you see any aliens?

RonGaran4 karma

No but that's because they're really really small

giantsheeps2 karma

Did you always want to be an astronaut? and if not when did you decide to become one? sorry if this has already been asked. also, any advice for people aspiring to be astronauts?

RonGaran5 karma

My most vivid childhood memory is watching the Apollo-11 Moon landing on television in 1969. I was mesmerized by the experience and wanted to join those exploring the Solar System. Although I wouldn’t have bee able to put it in these words, but even as a small boy I, at some level, realized that we had just become a different species, a species no longer confined to our planet and I wanted to be a part of that. So, I wanted to become an astronaut since July 20th 1969.

The_Troll_Gull2 karma

Mr. Garan, how did you feel when NASA cut its budget and stop the shuttle program? Second, How do you think we as a nation can back NASA to continue space exploration? Do you also feel that corporate space exploration is slow moving compared to NASA???

Thank you sir for your time.

RonGaran5 karma

I understood that we needed to cancel the Space Shuttle program to fund the Moon program. I closed the hatch on the last Space shuttle mission and rang the ISS's bell as Space Shuttle Atlantis departed the ISS for the last time. We were filled with mixed emotions. Sad because the Space Shuttle program was ending and it will probably be decades before we have the capabilities that the Space Shuttle provided but happy that the closing of one chapter of our space program signified the opening of another that would hopefully take us out of Low Earth Orbit. But the subsequent cancelation of the program that would bring us to the Moon (this time to stay), I believe, was a shortsighted mistake. I believe that commercial space flight operations in Low Earth Orbit will eventually enable the large government space agencies to begin human exploration of the Solar System.

Spoonsy2 karma

What's one thing an individual can start doing today to help the environment and the planet?

RonGaran7 karma

Realize that everyone one of us can make a tremendous impact on the environment (either positive or negative) when you look at the effect of our actions over a long time frame. We have the ability to nudge the trajectory of our global ecosystem. So we need to think carefully about the daily decisions we make.

dominant5th1 karma

What do you think the most difficult thing to acclimate to in space was?

What do you do for thrills on Earth?

RonGaran2 karma

I don't think anything was particularly hard to acclimate to in space except for maybe sleep. It took me a few weeks to figure out how to sleep comfortably in space. Actually on Earth I'm not much of a dare-devil. I don't do anything inherently dangerous for the thrill except for maybe skiing.

BrunoGrand1 karma

If you could describe your experience in space in one word, what would be?

RonGaran5 karma


mr_producer1 karma

What is your favorite music to listen to when underwater / in space?

RonGaran3 karma

I actually asked Earthlings to help me pick the music to listen to in space. Here's what they came up with: fragileoasis.org and here's what I listened to on the launch pad: fragileoasis.org

rascus_1 karma

Hi Ron! Just watched PLANETARY and it was an incredibly moving experience! Those beautiful shots of Earth from space made me tear up!

How did you get involved with Planetary Collective, and do you have plans to collaborate more with them?

RonGaran1 karma

I've been involved with the amazingly talented folks from Planetary Collective since being interviewed for the film Overview https://vimeo.com/55073825. We do have plans for a follow on to Planetary called Orbital. If Planetary framed the problem facing our world, Orbital will be the call to action to correct the trajectory of our global society. The film will be loosely based on my book "The Orbital Perspective" http://orbitalperspective.com/

CassidiaPetersen1 karma

Which experience was more nerve-wracking? Being in space or the ocean floor for a long period of time? And which was more exciting?

RonGaran1 karma

Both experiences had moments that were stressful and moments that were awe-inspiring. Both were extremely exciting in their own way but space, I believe, was more unique and different than anything else I had ever experienced

sonic_tower1 karma

What felt more remote, space or the ocean floor? Which was scarier?

RonGaran3 karma

Both seemed remote: In space we were completely detached from the only home we ever knew but we could clearly see it from our windows. On the ocean floor even though we were only 60 feet from the surface, we needed 17 hours to desaturate our bodies before we could return to the surface. In reality, both were remote.

Identimental1 karma

Is there anywhere else extreme you would like to go during your life? Maybe something that wouldn't actually be possible with current technology, but could be in the future?

RonGaran5 karma

I would like to go to: 1 The Moon 2 Mars 3 South Pole 4 Kathmandu in that order

smross8181 karma

What were you feeling at the launchpad right before liftoff?

RonGaran2 karma

What am I getting myself into?

sonic_tower1 karma

In space, did you ever feel like humans were insignificant, our problems petty, or (separately) that we all have a lot more in common than we think?

Was your experience in space directly influential in your wanting to get more involved in your current efforts?

RonGaran7 karma

I never felt that humans were insignificant. On the contrary I felt deeply interconnected with everyone on the planet. So much so that I was inspired to write the book "The Orbital Perspective". The Orbital Perspective is a call to action to shift our perspective from looking at things as they affect us locally, in the short term, to how they affect us globally over the long-term. It’s a shift from looking at the next election campaign or quarterly report to looking at the 20-year plan and beyond. It’s the acknowledgement that each and every one of us is ridding through the Universe together on this spaceship that we call Earth, that we are all interconnected and family. It’s the understanding that there are no passengers on Spaceship Earth only crewmates and as crewmates we have a responsibility to mind the ship and take care of our fellow crewmates. It’s the acknowledgment of the sobering contradiction we see when we view our planet from space between the amazing beauty of our Earth and the unfortunate realities of life on our planet for a significant number of its inhabitants. It’s the firm belief that nothing is impossible—that it is within our power to eliminate the suffering and conflict that exist on our planet and that we do not have to accept the status quo. Above all else, the orbital perspective is the acknowledgement that we need each other. The days are long gone where we can affect the type of change that’s required by adhering to the old way of doing things or having a go it alone attitude.

sonic_tower1 karma

To follow up - how do you think people can get an Orbital Perspective if we never leave the ground?

I'm asking as a psychologist who studies moral behavior - I would love to find a kind of experience that anyone can have, that would be as profound as a trip to space, in revealing how vast the universe is and how we are all in this together on our little rock.

RonGaran3 karma

Great question! One of the main points of my book is that we don't have to be in orbit to have an orbital perspective. It requires taking a big picture and long-term view and practicing what I like to call elevated empathy. Truly putting yourself in the shoes of others. Above all else it's realizing that there's not an us and them. The key is we!

theamazer1 karma

Is it weird to be a huge contributor to American space projects while being of Russian descent?

RonGaran9 karma

No but what was a little surreal was becoming an integrated member of a Russian spacecraft crew after spending most of my adult life training to fight the Russians. Standing at the base of the Russian rocket that was to carry my two Russian military cremates and I to space and seeing an American flag along side a Russian flag on the rocket was a very moving experience and really illustrates the power of setting aside our differences and working together toward common goals.

jfordius1 karma

What do you guys do for fun up there in the great beyond?

RonGaran3 karma

The best thing to do is look out the window nut we also have movies to watch

ehaddx1 karma

Thanks for doing another AMA! My son is very interested in everything that has to do with space. He is only 8 but has big dreams! How did you begin your education post high school?

RonGaran2 karma

When I first started college our space program was between Skylab and the Shuttle. To me our nation didn't have a space program. I started college enrolled as a business major. When I was a sophomore the first shuttle mission occurred and I went in to my advisors the next day to see how I could start taking math and science courses

TheVangu4rd1 karma

When doing your spacewalks, did you ever just look straight out into space? What did you think? How did it feel?

RonGaran10 karma

Yes on my first mission during a spacewalk I was "flown" on a big arc above the space station by the space station's robotic arm. At the top of this arc on the nighttime side of the orbit I was way above the lights of the ISS. I turned my helmet lights off and when my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was looking out at infinity. I could see the Milky Way and satellites whizzing by above me. It was a surreal experience

katedent961 karma

Hi Ron, I was wondering what the best path to becoming an astronaut is? Pilot or scientist/engineer? Thank you for being such an inspiration.

RonGaran3 karma

The best path is to do what you truly love to do and become the very best you can at it. Hopefully this field has a technical component to it that can contribute to space exploration.

Mans271 karma

When you where in space, how long would it take for you to " float from one country to an other. Like if you're above Argentina, would it take a long time to manually position your self so that you'd be over a country like South Africa? Thank You !

RonGaran2 karma

We travel at 5 miles per second. At that speed, it's a mater of minutes to go from continent to continent.

TimeIsPower1 karma

How would you describe the period between liftoff and arrival at your destination?

RonGaran4 karma

On the Soyuz we "tumbled" around the planet every 90 minutes for 2 and a half days. The view was constantly changing. I spent most of my time looking out the window because during this period I had very few tasks to do.

Lus_1 karma

What is the sensation when you are "walking" in the space?

What is the space sound?

Do you have fear once up there looking us like ants?

RonGaran1 karma

The dominant sensation on a spacewalk is awe. Awe of our planet and awe of the amazing human accomplishment that the International Space Station represents. The only sound you hear on a spacewalk is the communications on the radio in your headset and the sound of the fans in your spacesuit. It's hard not to realize that your in a very hostile, dangerous environment but I never thought of the people down below on Earth as ants.

hennakoto1 karma

Are you religious?

RonGaran4 karma

I believe in God

Zackagawea101 karma

During your time in the rocket going up, how scared were you?

RonGaran2 karma

On a scale of 1 to 10?

Vazmanian1 karma

Did you encounter any dangerous situations when you were in space?

Would you say your time in space was more appreciated and fun than when you're on Earth?

RonGaran2 karma

We did have a large piece of space junk pass very close to the space station while I was there traveling fast enough that it probably would have destroyed the station had it hit us. You really start to appreciate the beauty that defines life in space and it can really be fun because it is so unique and special.

YallSoSly1 karma

Hi Ron!

Earlier this year, I sent you an email (and then tweeted at you. I was salty.) with a question that I had while researching my debate case (for NFA-LD).

In an article awhile back, you said that the moon would be a "superb location for early (Near-Earth Object) detection systems". Why is that?

RonGaran2 karma

Because the dark side of the Moon is shielded from light, radio waves and other "noise" from Earth and because there's no atmosphere it serves as a pristine platform to monitor incoming natural threats to our planet. Sorry I missed your tweet.

ESOBlaze1 karma

Hey Ron! Thanks for doing this AmA, but I gotta ask.. While in space did you ever look out the window and see anything UFO related?

RonGaran3 karma

No I did not.

VirtualBanana1 karma

What is the difference in taste and texture between freeze dried and fresh food? Strange question, I know, but I've always wondered. . .

RonGaran1 karma

On the space station the majority of the food is either dehydrated or irradiated. If you've ever gone camping and brought along pre-packaged camping food it's very much like that. For the most part, the food is not bad. The Russians actually bring up food in cans and their food is more like real food. Periodically unmanned cargo spacecraft arrive and they will normally have some fresh food on board too. Those are always real treats.

rv49er1 karma

ZeroG is very expensive, how close is the Neutral Boyancy Lab(swimming pool) or skydiving to weightlessness?

RonGaran3 karma

It's very close but when you turn upside-down in the NBL you feel upside down

catduodenum1 karma

Hi Ron! I'm so super excited that you're doing this! Can you tell me about your involvement with the manna energy foundation? What kinds of ways are they using to bring drinking water to villages in Rwanda? Also, do you believe that our species will need to become interplanetary to survive?

RonGaran3 karma

The Manna Energy Foundation is a social enterprise incubator. The 1st company we launched was Manna Energy ltd. which has collaborated with other organizations to sustainably provide clean water to over 5 million people to date. We are trying to to this with the long-term benefit of our client communities first and foremost. As for the 2nd question, we live on a planet of finite resources and therefore we will either need to radically reduce the rate at which we are consuming non-renewable resources or we will have to make use of the unlimited resources available in space. I think we should do both before leaving our planet is required

ApolloNeverDied1 karma

I have heard that you often have cold symptoms for several weeks when in space... Is this true, and how bad are the symptoms?

RonGaran7 karma

Because when you get to space, gravity is no longer pulling the fluid in your body from your head to your feet, most people feel congested due to the fluid shift. This is something you get used to normally within a few weeks. The "symptoms" are usually mild.

[deleted]1 karma


RonGaran2 karma

Reddit AMAs!