James F. Reilly

220px james reilly
is an American geologist and a former NASA astronaut who has flown on three space shuttle missions: STS-89, STS-104 and STS-117.

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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...


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...


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!




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...)


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!


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.


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!


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.


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.