LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We were in Louisville. She was in Moscow. But the long distances didn't keep astronaut Kate Rubins from sharing her thoughts just a few weeks ahead of her launch to the International Space Station.
Scheduled to launch aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule on June 24, Rubins will be traveling with two other crewmates to the station as part of "Expedition 48/49."
WDRB's Travis Kircher spoke with Rubins Wednesday morning about her upcoming flight, and how her preparations began as long ago as the sixth grade. Below is a transcript of the interview:
KIRCHER: This is Travis Kircher with WDRB News. Thanks for joining us!
RUBINS: Thanks for talking to me!
KIRCHER: You're a Space Camp alumni. I'm also a 1990-Space Camper, so I have to ask you: I was wondering if you could share some of your memories of that -- talk about your mission back then -- and did you think back then that you would be doing something like this?
RUBINS: Yeah, so I went to Space Camp when I was in sixth grade, so I was on the younger side. That's right about the time where you start to think maybe a little more seriously about a career. So it was great for me to able to do activities and be able to participate in a science and engineering-type mission that felt like it was actual astronaut training. But I never had any idea this might be what I'd be doing for a career.
When I was doing Space Camp, I actually -- I wasn't crew. I thought that back room science and engineering was basically the coolest place to be, so I had a fantastic experience, and I love all of the science that goes on behind the mission.
KIRCHER: At what point did you think, "I want to become an astronaut. That’s the career choice for me"?
RUBINS: Actually, it's from the time I can remember. If you asked my parents, they'll tell you I wanted to be astronaut, and biologist, and geologist -- in that order. So it's always been something that I've wanted to do. I was factually a biologist for a number of years. That was my career before coming to NASA.
KIRCHER: You're obviously preparing to go into a very different environment. You're going to be weightless. Are you excited about that? Are you concerned about that? How do you prepare for being weightless during that time period?
RUBINS: Yeah, I think it's a little bit trickier than people recognize. It looks wonderful floating around, but you actually have to do a lot to stabilize yourself and to control yourself. And we're working up there. We are doing over 200 different science experiments on our mission and so the key thing, I think, is to get up there and learn how to be in that environment and be very efficient incredibly quickly so that we can get work done.
I think it's also fascinating because we have the opportunity, really for the first time, to study what happens to the human body in weightlessness using this array of modern molecular and cellular techniques that we've developed and brought to the International Space Station.
KIRCHER: One of the things that I see that really strikes me when I look at pictures and footage of the space station is the 'Cupula' -- that big, kind of 'fish-eye' window that kind of gives you that view of the Earth. Are there any particular landmarks or just anything in particular that you are really excite about seeing from space…?
RUBINS: Yeah -- it's an amazing facility. A lot of people do say that they spend their free time there when they're not working on a science or maintenance activity. And I think people can see really big geological landmarks. You can see mountain ranges, you can see rivers flow, you can see entire continents. So it's definitely a different perspective than you might have coming from an airplane flying over the Earth. People tend to see really large chunks of the globe at the same time. And that's very unique in the human experience.
KIRCHER: And one thing I have to do, I have to give a shout-out to our meteorologists -- Marc Weinberg, Jude Redfield, Jeremy Kappell, Rick DeLuca and Katie McGraw -- they're big fans of the space program, and they're really good about letting our viewers know about space station sighting opportunities.
So I was wondering, while you're up there, what do you want people from Louisville and southern Indiana to be thinking about when they see you fly over?
RUBINS: Yeah, there’s definitely great opportunities! You can get apps that are going to track the space station -- and I think the neat thing is, when I'm on the ground and I'm looking at the space station, is to think that this bright amazing star that's moving very fast on the sky actually has six people on it, it's got massive solar arrays, it's the size of a football field, and those people inside are conducting all kinds of scientific experiments. They may even be going outside that bright star and doing a spacewalk. To think what's actually happening up there is pretty amazing.
KIRCHER: Kate, thank you so much for doing this for us, and best wishes on your trip. Thank you very much.
RUBINS: Thank you!
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