Astronaut tells WDRB his religious faith, exercise both play a r - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Astronaut tells WDRB his religious faith, exercise both play a role as he prepares for launch

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Astronaut Barry Wilmore (Credit: NASA) Astronaut Barry Wilmore (Credit: NASA)
Astronaut Barry Wilmore (Credit: NASA) Astronaut Barry Wilmore (Credit: NASA)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you speak to astronaut Barry Wilmore for any length of time, you'll quickly learn he's a religious man.

His conversation is often punctuated with the phrase "the good Lord" -- as in, "the good Lord allowed all those years to go by" and "the good Lord gives us the understanding." And when asked, he'll freely open up about how his Christian faith inspires, not just his desire to travel to space, but his relationship with his family and all areas of his life.

And that inspiration is taking him all the way to the stars. In Nov. 2009, he piloted space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station for a 10-day mission. But on the afternoon of Sept. 25, just a few weeks from now, he is expected to return to the ISS for a much longer mission: a six-month stay aboard the space station.

Wilmore will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule, along with Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samoukutyaev. They will arrive at the space station a short time later, joining the current crew, consisting of American Reid Wiseman, Russian Max Suraev and German Alexander Gerst.

Click HERE to read our interview with Wiseman, Suraev and Gerst.

Shortly after 6 a.m. EST, on the morning of Monday, Sept. 8, WDRB Web Producer Travis Kircher spoke with Wilmore about his upcoming flight, his faith, and how he is preparing for the weeks and months to come. Below is a partial transcript of that discussion.

WDRB:  You're obviously going to be up there for six months in weightlessness. Is there anything that you are going to be doing – any exercises, any kind of procedures that you're doing to prepare for that and get your body ready for that?

WILMORE:  Absolutely. It's funny that you ask that. I'm an early riser, so I get up usually around 5:00 and do some piddly stuff to get my body woken up. Usually I'm in the gym by 6:00.

I'm pretty steady about that. I try to stay fairly disciplined because we're going into an environment that – you know – your muscles don't get worked as much, your bones don't feel the pressures as much, so the body says, ‘Oh, you don't need those muscles. Oh, you don't need that bone – that calcium for those bones.' So it doesn't start producing.

So to mitigate that, we work out a great deal. Like I said, this morning I was in the gym. I was doing squats and some other things. I was preparing myself for on-orbit, because, on-orbit, every single day, seven days a week, we are scheduled for two-and-a-half hours of physical exercise to keep ourselves physically toned.

Because ultimately, the goal is not just to go to the space station. We'd like to go to other places. And if you have a long, six-month-plus transit to another planet, when you get there, you don't want to be incapacitated. So we're learning now how to mitigate those muscle atrophy and calcium deficiencies in the bones – how we can mitigate that so we can perform when we get to the destination we're going to. And we are working hard on that now.

So yeah, every single day, seven days a week, I'll be working out, and we've got a treadmill on there where we have straps that hold us down, to sort of simulate gravity, and bicycling and other apparatus to keep us in shape.

WDRB:  One of the things that our meteorologists do quite a bit is let people know about space station sighting opportunities and so forth. What do you want kids to be thinking about – families to be thinking about – when they go in their backyards and see the space station fly over? What should that mean to them?

WILMORE: As they see that light from that distance – obviously it's just a light going over, and it depends on how high above the horizon it is. If it's straight overhead, you get like six, seven or eight minutes of time to see it. And then you run inside and you look on the Internet and you see the picture...of the space station itself, and it is truly amazing, especially when you think about the fact that it was built, literally, all over the globe. It was not assembled on earth. Hardly any two parts were assembled together before it was launched…and it has worked. Certainly there are little minor problems that have happened in the past, but we have learned how to fix it. It is just an amazing, amazing thing when you consider that we have been able to build this laboratory piece-by-piece on earth, and then assemble it in orbit and it is working to the high level that it is working. It's just an amazing thing.

I think when you look back at, ‘Hey, what can man do that the good Lord gives us the understanding and how to do things?' And what we can do is we come together and set aside all of our differences and work hard together. I think that's the big thing to come away from it.

WDRB:  What are the odds that you'll be taking pictures of Louisville, Kentucky while you're up there?

WILMORE: I'm gonna zoom in, actually, on your house. [LAUGHS] No, I'll be taking pictures constantly. There's a way that we can know where we'll be over a certain part of the earth…at a certain time. So I can actually set up a camera and point straight down, and then as we go overhead, I'll set the timer up and it will take as many pictures as it can take as we pass over.

And I'll do that for several different places, including Louisville, Kentucky.

WDRB: I've heard you reference your faith a few times. What role has that played in getting you ready and getting you psyched up for this trip that you're about to take?

WILMORE: Oh, it plays a part not just in this trip, but in all of my life. What we believe about what the Bible teaches – that's important to me, it's important to my family, it's important to my church. That is wrapped around every aspect of my life, not just this. So it plays a vital role in everything that I do, my family does, and those that we know and love.

WDRB: What about social media on this trip. Are you guys going to be implementing that? How will use that up there?

A: Yes, you know I was asked about social media early on in the training cycle, and as it turns out, before I was even approached by it, the two people who are on-orbit now, Alexander Gerst and Reid Wiseman, they were big, big on social media. And I thought, ‘Well I'll jump in and do it do.' Then I found out that the two people that were scheduled to come after me – Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti – they are huge into social media too. So I thought, ‘My goodness, it will be maybe overload if I jump into the mix as well.' So I chose not to do it.

But I'll certainly take some pictures and I'll get some comments and they'll be posted all over those Web sites and it will go out without me even getting involved.

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WDRB plans to live stream the launch on the afternoon of Sept. 25. Stay with WDRB News. We'll update you on the status of Wilmore's mission.

Travis K. Kircher is a Web Producer for WDRB News. He can be reached at

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