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Transcript: Space4U podcast, Digger Carey, Pt. 2

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Hello, I’m Andrew de Naray with the Space Foundation, and you’re listening to the Space4U podcast. Space4U is designed to tell the stories of the amazing people who make today’s space exploration possible. This podcast completes our prior episode, a conversation with former NASA astronaut and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, retired, Digger Carey.

 

We now continue Digger’s story beginning with when he was selected by NASA. How did that then translate to space? Uh, you were selected by NASA in 1996. Well, by the time, uh, NASA accepted me, it was, it was my second try at getting into NASA. And, um, as you might imagine, there’s a whole stack of paperwork you got to fill out there, folks.

 

You have to get ahold of people you haven’t even talked to for several years to, you know, give you references and stuff like that. It’s a lot of work to put together the package if you want to be an astronaut for NASA, and I’d gone through this thrash one time. It didn’t get real far. I’ve put in my application, never even heard back from NASA.

 

And by that time in our career, I was a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base, flying F-16s and life was real interesting. And I was surrounded by great people that were motivated to do the best that they could do for their country. It was just a wonderful, wonderful job to have and a wonderful place to be.

 

I love testing F-16s. And so I actually was getting to a point. My career where yeah, being an astronaut was a goal. I had set for myself several years before, but there was a part of me that almost really didn’t care if I ever became an astronaut or not, because things were so awesome in the job that I had and the opportunities that were still in front of Cheryl and I were so attractive that the whole astronaut thing was more like a promise.

 

I felt I needed to keep to a younger version of Digger as opposed to, well, if I don’t make this, my life is going to end kind of thing. Well, Cheryl, she has often done goaded me and basically challenged me to put in another application package two years after I had failed the first time. And I only really did it for her.

 

It was a lot of work and everything, but this time NASA accepted me and Cheryl and I were real happy when that happened, because this was going to be another interesting challenge that we could see if we were up to it. So. There was really not much trepidation when NASA gave us the phone call, it was more of a sense of opportunity and challenge.

 

And we looked at each other and said, can we do this? And if we do it, how are we going to do it? Well, this is going to be fun to find out how good we really are. So then, uh, almost six years passed between when you were selected by NASA. And when you piloted the STS-109 mission to serve as the Hubble space telescope, what kind of work filled your days in the interim or during that gap?

 

Will Andrew, um, We got to NASA and I was used to this really fast paced lifestyle as a test pilot where every day you go to work and you think you’re going to be perhaps encounter something dangerous. Exciting. Perhaps even life-threatening some of the testing we did was kind of dangerous, not all of it, but some of it, then we got to NASA and I was a student again.

 

And I was a student for two years at NASA and what they call astronaut candidate training. And there’s a whole litany of things that an astronaut pilot has to learn before NASA actually certifies you as being eligible for space flight. So out of that five and a half years is two years of it was in.

 

Formal training program by NASA. And then, uh, of course in the astronaut office, you know, back in those days during the space shuttle days, and even nowadays with the international space station, with the astronaut office, there’s only a few of us that are actually flying a space at any given time. And the huge majority of us are working jobs that basically only other astronauts can work jobs that have to do with supporting our astronaut friends that are in space or perhaps are.

 

Training to fly in space or came back and now they have to adapt to light back on earth and astronauts can do those types of jobs and help other astronauts better than basically anybody else can. So the three and a half years I had after those two years of training were spent primarily doing technical jobs in the astronaut office.

 

I was involved in a lot of engineering, upgrades and technical upgrades to the space shuttle orbiter, which is the space plane that we call the space shuttle. That we used to fly. And early on in my NASA career, I can remember asking one of my astronaut friends who had been there a couple of years saying, you know, I don’t even know why they involve astronauts on these engineering teams to do shuttle upgrades and stuff like that because these engineers are the best engineers in the world.

 

And they’re smarter than most of us could ever hope to be. Why in the heck am I even on these teams? And my, my buddy looked at me like I was crazy and he goes, “Digger, It’s because we’re operators, we’re actually the ones that fly the thing he said, you know, more about operating aircraft and spacecraft than they ever will.”

 

They know how to build them, but they don’t know how to fly them. And I thought, huh, this is really what we bring to the table. The rocket scientists are awesome, but they don’t, they don’t fly the dang things. And so for those three and a half years, and actually almost a year was spent training for my mission.

 

So for two and a half years, I was involved in technical upgrades to the, to the space shuttle, different systems that they were looking to make veterans stuff like that, working on teams with other engineers. And a couple of years after I was there, NASA put out another round of invitations for people to come and be astronauts.

 

And I knew a lot of the folks that were applying a lot of the test pilots that were applying to be astronauts. And I was talking to one of my old friends that was going to. Going for an interview cause he wanted to be an astronaut. And he said, what is daily life like here at NASA? If you’re not training to fly in space, just a regular job as an astronaut.

 

And I looked him in the eye and I said, you know, in a lot of ways it’s quite boring compared to being a fighter pilot or a test pilot life here is a lot slower. I said, you have to look yourself in the mirror and decide and ask yourself why you want to be an astronaut. One thing I always had going for me, Andrew was that I was passionate about space exploration. I feel like it’s right up there with the most important things that that mankind can do with the most important and challenging types of careers that any person can have space exploration is vital to the future of our species as human beings. I mean, how long are we going to be here?

 

The earth is a fragile spaceship and it’s not going to last forever. And we know that as a matter of fact, it could end tomorrow due to an asteroid collision or something like that. So we have to be prepared. We have to work toward being a spacefaring species, get away from our cradle and be able to live other places if we’re gonna survive.

 

Long-term and I know that’s really, really important. And it was that passion about space exploration that kept me engaged and happy and busy during those years when I actually wasn’t flying in space, I mean, I was just happy to be here. Part of the team. I was happy just to be there. And I found the work very interesting and meaningful, but if you don’t have that passion, I think the day-to-day slog of being an astronaut and doing astronaut duties could probably be quite discouraging for a lot of people.

 

You have to have that underlying passion piloting the STS-109 mission. You flew 3.9 million miles and completed 165 orbits around the earth. Prior to that. You probably had a preconceived notion of what space flight would be like was the reality any different? The reality was quite different, but I wasn’t surprised by that.

 

You know, when you’re doing something major for the first time and I will use the example of combat as a way to drive home this point. The Air Force noticed back during the Vietnam war that even though we felt like America had the best fighter jets and stuff like that, when we’d go over to Vietnam and we would find ourselves against, uh, fighting North Vietnamese fighter pilots. It turns out that the victory ratio during the early years of the war, my statistics may not be absolutely correct, but they were on the order of one-to-one for every dog fight and the aircraft, we would shoot down, they would shoot down one of ours.

 

And the Air Force noticed that primarily a fighter pilots first 10 to maybe 20 combat missions was where he was at, and it was all men back then, where he was at the highest risk for being shot down by enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft missiles or something like that. So the Air Force implemented a program called Red Flag, and they’re still doing exercises like that.

 

And the whole idea of Red Flag was to take a, a young fighter pilot before he goes off to war. Or I guess these days he, or she goes off to war, put them in a combat environment where they can actually. You get that early experience as a fighter pilot in a training environment, they can get their early quote unquote combat experience under those conditions.

 

And then by the time they go to combat for real, they’re going to be ready to go. But no matter how prepared you are, the first days of real combat are going to be a totally new experience. And then if you can survive that and do well, you’ve got the confidence. I knew that being in space was going to be a totally different experience.

 

And so I was expecting the unexpected, but some of the unexpected things that did happen were, um, my friend astronauts that have flown space that told me how uncomfortable space was during the early days of a mission. And I really didn’t expect the level of discomfort, uh, that you went through as your body adapted to space.

 

Those first couple of days, when you’re on orbit, you’ve got the whole fluid shift thing where your head feels like it’s being blown up like a balloon. You got a lot of irritation. Because, um, you know, when you’re in zero gravity, a lot of little fibers come off your clothing and stuff like that. And they end up in your eyes and you got the whole nausea thing going on, you know, probably half of all astronauts actually get physically ill and vomit those some at least sometime during those first couple of days on orbit.

 

So the physical discomfort, the difficulty getting used to sleeping, those kinds of things were a little of a kind of surprise. Without going into great detail, but a little task of, for instance, changing a light bulb and a flashlight, the old school flashlights with light bulbs. That’s a very difficult task to do in zero gravity.

 

If you don’t know the tricks. And so your, your early days in space floating around with that bumping into your mates all the time. And, you know, just being a general hazard on board, the spacecraft, learning how to use the toilet and zero gravity. You learn everything you can about going to the bathroom before you fly in space, but you never get a chance to practice.

 

Zero gravity, all those things. And they’re all coming at you at once. I like to tell people that my experience space has caused me to have an enormous amount of respect for two year olds. Because when you think about it, Andrew, two year olds are learning how to eat. They’re learning about bedtime.

 

They’re learning about bathroom. They’re learning how to talk. They’re learning a whole bunch of things. That’s new to them. Once and that’s like, it is for the early days of a spaceflight for all astronauts is they’re all learning lobe of your brain has to go into overdrive because you are learning basically everything all over again, all the rules are different.

 

They’ve all changed. Spaceflight is hugely challenging and if it wasn’t so cool. And if the views weren’t so awesome, I’d almost have to scratch my head and wonder why anybody wants to fly in space. So during that mission, did you encounter any unforeseen technical difficulties or challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

 

We had a problem right after we got into orbit where our spacecraft, the orbiter Columbia had just come out of major phase maintenance out there in Palmdale, California. And she was a wonderful ship, but there was a little bit of a soldering mistake that was made in the cooling system. Soldering meaning joining some tubes together that carry a Freon, which is that one of the gases that are used in the cooling system, onboard space shuttle orbiter.

 

And there was a blockage in one of those cooling lines and right after we got to, but we were informed from mission control that we had a problem with the cooling system, onboard the spacecraft. And it was a possibility we’d have to come back home 24 hours and never get a chance. It has to get to the Hubble Space Telescope, which was the objective of the whole mission was to upgrade the telescope.

 

And I can just remember thinking, okay, the actual launch was cool, but it was, to me, it was very uncomfortable and scary. I didn’t want to have to go through that again. We had trained to service the Hubble. I wanted to stand space really bad and get our job done before we came home, dealing with that a little bit and getting ready.

 

To come home in 24 hours was a lot of extra work. You had to be ready to do that, but to cut a long story, short NASA actually got the smartest engineers together, and those folks decided it was safe for us to stay in orbit. I would say the second big obstacle personally that I had during our mission was the fact that none of the crew was sleeping very well or sleeping very long.

 

We were so heavily tasked due to the nature of our mission and things were happening. So. Fast that we were cutting into our designated sleep time. Turns out we were getting just four to four and a half hours of sleep a night, which is something you can kind of do for one or two days at a time. But, uh, that you, you start stacking that up eight, nine, 10, 11 days, and now you have to pull it together and land the spaceship, which is a very complicated and a demanding task, very dangerous, and having to deal with fatigue while you’re accomplishing all these difficult tasks.

 

A lot of the tasks or the type of which have to be done right the first time they’re you can’t make mistakes doing this stuff. And Andrew, you can’t, you can’t make bad mistakes in space. If you do. It’s very simple. You die. So just day after day, doing the job that we had signed on to do to get up there day after day, to keep the level of intensity out and try to go on day after day without making sure.

 

Mistakes later on in the mission I have to admit, I did notice in myself, I started to make more and more switch errors inside the spaceship. Luckily for all of us, the switch errors were benign. Astronauts are trained that when you’re throwing switches that are critical, you get more than one set of eyes on those.

 

So you grab somebody else and you talk, you actually have a little conference before you throw the switch. So we didn’t, I didn’t make any serious mistakes, but there I was making enough mistakes to where it really got my attention and I knew that come landing day, somehow you just got to pull it together and you have to get this right.

 

And to me, dealing with fatigue was probably the greatest challenge I had in orbit. It was, I like to tell folks that it’s without a doubt, it’s the hardest peacetime thing I’ve ever done was my space mission.

 

The purpose of the STS-109 mission was to service the Hubble Space Telescope, which has now been an orbit for nearly 30 years, despite having a critical flaw early on it has since captured some amazing cosmic images. Do you have any personal feelings or thoughts? About the telescope.

 

Yeah. Uh, the story I’m about to tell you, Andrew is going to be one that maybe not you, but a lot of people listening to this, they’re going to think it’s a lie because it’s just too impossible that something like this could come true. So way back when I was in pilot training, uh, learning how to fly Air Force jets, Cheryl and I were down in Del Rio, Texas, and we were still motorcycle afficionados. We still are to this day. As a matter of fact, I don’t have a car and I had always been an avid reader of science fiction ever since I was a teenager. Good science fiction, not monster movies and stuff that you see nowadays, but real good science fiction written by the classical authors where there’s a lot of science and you actually have to do some research to understand the stories themselves, because the science is so involved.

 

And so we were going through pilot training and Cheryl and I had a weekend off. We decided we were going to throw a tent on the motorcycle and rush out to Big Bend national park, which was a few hours away from Del Rio down there in Southern Texas. It’s a wonderful national park. And I can remember camping that night and we had some candle lanterns going in the tent. Motorcycle was parked outside, and Cheryl had gone to sleep. And I was reading one of my little science fiction magazines, like I still like to do. And there was a story in there, Andrew, about the fact that NASA was thinking about a cool idea of putting a telescope in space. And the whole idea was to get an optical telescope outside of Earth’s atmosphere so that it could get a better look at the stars without the interference of all that atmospheric light in between the telescope and the actual stars.

 

And for some reason, this idea just captured my imagination. And I put down the book and I crawled outside the tent in my underwear. And I was looking at the stars, now Big Bend National park is in an area of the United States that is known to be incredibly free of light pollution, and you can get a real good look at the stars.

 

And it was a wonderful clear night. And I looked up, I could see the Milky Way, just millions of stars out there. And I started thinking about those stars being sons. Planets around those stars and, and what a cool idea would be if there was a telescope. And there was, I thought, you know, I’m just a dinky little Second Lieutenant learning how to fly Air Force jets. But man, if I ever, if I ever had the opportunity. I would sweep floors for NASA. I would go there. I would wash windows. I just want to be part of that team because I couldn’t think of anything more significant or important than learning more about our neighborhood.

 

Learning more about our universe and that’s what this telescope was going to do for us. Then I got cold, jumped back in the tent, went to sleep, kind of forgot about the whole thing. Career was going on, blah, blah, blah. We find ourselves at NASA and Andrew. This is true story. 21 years. Almost to the day of that night spent in the tent, or maybe it was at exactly 20.

 

I gotta do my math there, but anyways, I woke up one morning. I turned my head to the left and there in the back of my spaceship was the Hubble Space Telescope. That same contraption that was being written about in this little science fact article I was reading about in the science fiction magazine.

 

I mean, in the whole moral of the story is that these crazy, wild ideas, these dreams, these notions that we have that can really, really, really come true. But the takeaway is they only come true by never giving up perseverance, having a plan, sticking to the plan, doing the, for sure what are to be difficult and sometimes dangerous, sometimes uncomfortable hoops that you have to jump through to get to the point where these dreams actually come true.

 

And my story can be repeated millions of times across America because America is the country and the society where dreams come true. And Andrew isn’t that why we, you know, you’re here working with Space Foundation. Isn’t that why we do what we do is because we know that this is a long slog and that’s a long haul. But we have confidence in America. We have confidence in human beings. I say human beings because I flew in space and I saw the earth without borders. And it’s, it sounds trite, but it’s a life-changing experience to see what the earth really looks like from lower earth orbit. And you realize that human beings, if we put our minds to it and we make the hard decisions and we challenge ourselves, we can make all of these dreams come true, but we can never, ever give up and lose sight of the goal. So, which is to get humanity into the solar system and then onto the stars.

 

As many listeners may know, Space Shuttle Columbia tragically disintegrated upon re-entry in 2003, along with its crew, being that you piloted the shuttles last successful mission. How were you personally affected when you received that news?

 

It was, um, truly one of the darkest, if not. The darkest months that Cheryl and I have ever had to go through as human beings, I was working in mission control that day. When, when Columbia didn’t make it home. And those were six of my very close friends. I say six because the seventh, um, Elan was a Israeli fighter pilot who I knew casually, but I knew he was a great guy, but the other six, three of them were my classmates.

 

Three of them were the other three. We were all good friends. We knew their kids, my kids babysat for their kids. Um, it was going to be a wonderful, great celebration. The crew of STS-107, the crew that didn’t make it back home were generally regarded as one of the finest group of astronauts that NASA had put together.

 

And you could feel it when you were in the office. This was a special, a special group of people. And I was working in mission control. And when things started to go south on the way home, I can’t describe to you the sense of helplessness that we had. I’m going to try not to become emotional here, but mission control … mission control has one job. Mission control has several jobs, but that the main job and the most solemn task mission control has, is to make sure that those spacefarers come home successfully after hopefully a successful mission.

 

And we were sitting in mission control on console, a group of the most capable people you ever going to meet in terms of, of, uh, expertise with spaceflight systems, all those kinds of things. There was nothing we could do Andrew. There was nothing we could do. And before our very eyes, they, they died, seven of them and they died in a terrible way. America was watching. It was all right out there in the open to cut a long story short, you might imagine the astronaut office was in, basically a state of paralysis and shock.

 

After this happened, I went home that night. We had been, uh, sequestered in mission control for eight hours lockdown gathering. All the data we could from the instrumentation that we had, because eventually you have to put together the story of figuring out why this terrible thing happened so that it could never happen.

 

Again, went home totally exhausted. It was about a 16 hour day. My whole family was devastated. Like I say, my, my kids knew these, these astronauts. Went home got about four hours of sleep woke up the next morning. Sunday morning, went back into work. What can we do? Astronaut office. Let’s pull this together.

 

The investigation starts today. I had done a lot of work with, uh, folks out at the Michoud assembly facility. Back then it was a Lockheed-run facility south of New Orleans, where they build the external tanks for the space shuttle system. External tank has that big brown football looking thing. You see, whenever you see pictures of the space shuttle sitting on the launchpad, it carries the liquid fuel liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen for the rocket engines that are mounted to the back of the space shuttle orbiter.

 

I had done some work with that workforce out there and because of what I would call my humble beginnings, I feel a real connection to the folks that are turning wrenches and burning the welts. Pounding the rivets putting together spaceships real connection toward those folks. These are folks that don’t have college degrees, they’ve got high school diplomas.

 

They have a list of technical credentials, as long as your arm, that the best at what they do. Building spaceships that are man rated that humans fly on. I knew that because of the nature of the accident that these external tank was going to be a pivotal part of this investigation, I volunteered to go out there to the Michoud assembly facility and be the astronaut lead on the team. On the investigation team, we had investigation teams going everywhere to contract, to facilities all across the United States to try to figure out what components failed that caused that accident. Sunday afternoon, I came back home for our sleep I had the night before I told my wife I’m heading for New Orleans.

 

Don’t know what I’m going to see. And just jumped on my motorcycle. And I headed down interstate 10 as the sun went down. Um, I was in a daze. I was in shock. I was doing something I knew how to do and that’s ride motorcycles. It got dark going through Lake Charles, going through Baton Rouge, all the major towns you go through on interstate 10, between Houston and New Orleans.

 

And Andrew, I noticed as I went through these. Cities at night that entire, you know, car dealerships, college campuses were all lit up and they had lights shining on flags that were half mast. And I knew why the flags were at half mast. It was for my seven friends.

 

And kind of a funny part of this story was so I’m riding down interstate 10, I’m going pretty fast. And I’m looking at my odometer and there was one little brain molecule that said, wow, I’ve got 250 miles on this tank of gas and I haven’t stopped yet. I’ve ridden motorcycles long distance for a long time, but I have never ridden 300 miles without getting of a motorcycle. And I got up to 285 miles and I’m on the outs, um, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, I go, wow, I’m going, I’m going to do this.

 

I’m going to hit 300 miles. And when two 85 rolled around, Andrew, I had to take a leak so bad. I pulled over on the shoulder of interstate 10 and ran down there. The ditch and semis were going by and stuff like that. And I relieve myself and got back on the bike. But to this day, I often wish I had to just wet myself and gotten that 300 miles cause I haven’t done it since.

 

I arrived in new Orleans about one o’clock in the morning, checked into what can only be described as truly a Fleabag motel prostitutes and pimps, all quadrants. And I showed up that morning, six o’clock in the morning at Michoud assembly facility. And we. Began the investigation.

 

Um, you retired from NASA in 2004. What are you focusing your energies on today? You know, the reason I left NASA when I did Andrew wasn’t this loss, and will actually sound silly to people, but Sheryl and I, when we were dating before she took my hand in marriage, we started to get serious about each other.

 

We fell in love with each other, and Cheryl’s a very organized person and she wanted to havea talk one evening over a pizza about how we were going to spend our lives. And we laid it out. We said, let’s do it this way. We know we’re going to be in the military. Let’s serve our country, do the best job we can in the United States military, we’d like to have two kids and we want to raise our kids to be great Americans.

 

That’s going to be the goal. We want our kids to contribute and to be great Americans in their own. Right. And when the youngest child. These two kids is out of high school. You and I are going to have a lot more freedom and what we’re going to do, solemn promise. What we’re going to do is we’re going to give up our careers, whatever it is that we’re doing.

 

And we’re going to get back on the road on our motorcycles, because we know this is what we love to do. This is one of our passions and we made that silly little promise. Well, as the years went by, it turned out that the whole career thing was pretty cool. We had two kids, a boy and a girl who I must say.

 

Say that, that part of our plan went the way it should have because, uh, both of my children are very productive. They’re fine Americans. And we’re just as proud of them as anything we’ve ever done. They’ve given us some beautiful grandchildren by the way. But, um, so we were at NASA and things were pretty cool.

 

I’d flown in space. Sad thing is we, NASA was recovering from the Colombia crash and our daughter who’s the youngest. Went off to college. And Cheryl and I had always told the kids what our plan was after we got rid of them. And my son came back from the Air Force Academy for spring break. This was the spring of ’03, Columbia investigation was in high gear and we were having dinner.

 

And Zach said, he’s my son. He said, well, Erin is going to go off to college here in a couple months. Are you guys going to do what you always told us you were going to do? Are you going to go on your motorcycle trips, stuff like that? I said, well, Zach, I said, quite frankly, your mother, and I feel an obligation to stay with NASA long enough until we start flying again, because I feel like I got some real good experience and can help on investigation and figure out why we crashed and get us flying again.

 

And my son, you know, he’s a normal kid. He was a normal kid in almost all respects, except his special gift was. He had this strange wisdom that was beyond his years and he put down his fork and he looked me in the eye and he said, dad, I think you and mom need to stick to the plan. So the sad thing is, is, uh, what it did and Shirley and I did stick to the plan, but I left NASA at the very peak of my career.

 

And I’d actually turned in a letter of resignation to my boss. Columbia was in the air while she was still flying. I told my boss that I wanted to leave NASA at the end of ‘04. And then I’d like to fly in space one more time, or maybe two more times if it worked out, this was in January of ‘03 when I gave him the letter and I expected to fly in space again, but because Colombia crashed, I never did fly in space again, but my wife and I did keep that promise to ourselves and we left NASA at the end of ‘04.

 

So we started traveling on motorcycles. We moved up here to Colorado Springs. For several reasons. It’s an awesome place to live. We, this was around, uh, winter of ’04, ‘05, springtime rolled around and we’d gotten our house settled in and everything. And we’re doing the motorcycle thing.

 

And Cheryl looked at me one night and right around April and she said, well, we got things pretty up and controlled the house. What are we going to do with all of our spare time? You know, I had my Air Force pension. Uh, Cheryl was working as a nurse. Money wasn’t a problem. What are we gonna do with the rest of our lives?

 

And I said, well, let’s try to find something where we can serve, because you know, doing a career in the military, you kind of get addicted to that feeling of service. And we said, let’s try to do something that involves motorcycle travel. And we both agreed that we were passionate about the future of America.

 

And we were passionate about education, how important education is because, uh, Cheryl also had a modest background and we both saw what education did for us. It allowed us to have one. Or full opportunities and do things that were almost impossible to think of when we were young and education was the key to that.

 

So we said, well, why don’t we develop this scheme? We’ll start a little business. And we’ll travel around the United States on motorcycle and we’ll visit schools and we’ll talk to kids and we’ll share our story with kids and try to get the kids excited about math and science and those types of subjects and challenges that will open up opportunities for them later on in life.

 

Let’s do that. And that’s what we started to do. We call our little company one 80 out incorporated. And the whole business plan during the early years was string together a six week long motorcycle trip that covered several different cities, all around the United States and just business schools along the way, stay in motels and stuff.

 

Our camping days were over, Oh, they’re not over. Totally, but they were over on our business trips and we started doing that type of thing. And we fell in love with the idea of education. And passing on the stories and passing on the dream with the knowledge that, you know, there’s a handful of kids in every audience that are going to be part of that team that takes us to the stars and the do the things that my generation didn’t accomplish, you know, get back to the moon on a permanent basis, get to Mars, get to the moons around Jupiter and Saturn, where there’s probably pretty good chance we’re going to find life.

 

And you know, these kinds of endeavors aren’t going to. Take place just by wishing them to come true. They’re going to take place by people from my generation, showing some leadership to inspire the younger, most capable generation of kids that the earth has ever seen. And if we can inspire that generation of kids to do the hard thing to give themselves, The skills that it’s going to take to conquer the universe by golly, they’re going to do it.

 

And Cheryl and I love what we’re doing. We love the work we do with Space Foundation, doing everything we can to make these dreams come true. And then the fun part is, is that we don’t even have to do the hard work. The kids are going to do the hard work, but they’re going to do it because they’re infected with the passion of space exploration.

 

And I don’t think we have any idea where these guys are going to take us. In 20 years, we have no idea where they’re going to take us, but they will do it. But it’s our job as leaders to first of all, show them that these challenges are out there. Try to share with them how exciting and how cool this stuff is, and then work as hard as we can to motivate them.

 

So they challenged themselves to acquire the skills that are going to be needed to conquer the solar system.

 

There’s more, I’d like to ask, but I’m afraid we’ve run out of time, but, um, excellent stuff. And thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Digger it’s been an honor and a pleasure, and that concludes this episode of the Space Foundation’s Space4U podcast.

 

Keep your eyes and ears open for more Space4U episodes by checking out our social media outlets on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And of course our website at spacefoundation.org. On all these outlets and more it’s our goal to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate for the space community, because of the Space Foundation, we will always have space for you.

 

Thank you for listening.


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Space4U Podcast: Duane “Digger” Carey – Former NASA Astronaut, Part Two