Robert L Curbeam
Most kids either want to be a doctor, cowboy or an astronaut. The problem is, as you grow up you realise that cowboys were mostly drunken homicidal woman beaters and becoming a doctor is a hell of a lot of responsibility. That leaves becoming an astronaut as the only reasonable dream occupation for a child. Children have a wondrous fascination with the cosmos and due to the shear vastness of the universe that childlike curiosity continues with us until we are adults.
The word astronaut comes from the Greek word space sailor and to become an astronaut you have to have a high level of fitness, acute technological and scientific skills. It’s a risky job which takes copious amounts of courage. I don’t believe any amount of rigorous testing can prepare you for a space expedition, and only a handful of people through out history will ever get this opportunity. Robert L.Curbeam was a NASA astronaut who embodied all of these skills and currently holds the record for the most spacewalks during a single spaceflight, the STS-116.
Robert spent hours as a child designing aeroplanes and rockets but never dreamed he would ever be on the inside of one on the way to space. He graduated from Wood-lawn High School in 1980, earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Masters in Astronautical Engineering. He’s flown F-14s in the Navy and participated in three space shuttle missions as a NASA astronaut. He’s walked in space a whopping seven times, logged over nine hundred hours up there including forty five hours of space walks.
As of 2016 only six countries have full launch capabilities. Only three countries are capable of human space flight, they are; USA, Russia and China. That number will inevitably grow as the temptation of space travel unravels. As well as bragging rights, the technology that comes along with it is life changing. Memory foam mattresses, Velcro, and smoke detectors are just some of the technologies born from space technology.
What do you need to do to become an astronaut..?
– Bachelors degree in engineering, maths, biology, computer or chemical science. Three years job experience would be useful also.
– A second language always looks good for potential astronauts. Russian is top of the list for ESA.
– At least 1000 hours pilot in command time in jet aircraft.
– No age restrictions as ESA has considered candidates from 26-46, but you have to be in good shape.
– Nasa candidates have to pass the military’s water survival course and show they can cope with high and low pressure environments. Their vision must be 20/20 and have a blood pressure which is a maximum of 140/90.
We need to re-identify who we consider to be heroes. Rappers are not heroes, sports stars shouldn’t be idolised and we shouldn’t accept that our children aspire to be actors. The scientists, engineers and programmers who have shaped the world we live in today are what we should aspire to be. It takes a high degree of intelligence, drive and courage to become an astronaut. These are the attributes our future generations to take forward and develop. This is how future generational problems are solved. Especially considering we only have one Earth.
‘If you don’t leave this earth a conservationist, you will come back as one.’ – Robert L Curbeam
The earth is that beautiful. The nostalgia will catch you off guard and leave you breathless for a few minutes as you soak in the profound perspective that is our earth. The home we are destroying is seemingly still stunning in its decay. Losing eight percent bone density and being lonely for a while seems worth it when the images your eyes take in are burned in your brain forever. Space travel will humble you beyond your core and deep into your soul. Salute to Robert L Curbeam, a true hero.