Thursday, June 08, 2017

New Astronauts Announced

12 new Astronaut-Candidates were announced today.  Long ago, I knew I was not going to be among them, but finally seeing the twelve NASA selected from 18,300 was interesting to say the least.  There are men and women, in their twenties, thirties and forties, PhDs and medical doctors, military and non-military, pilots and non-pilots, a SpaceX employee, a NASA employee, a submariner and a bunch of Antarctic experience among the group.  With over 18,000 applicants it's hard to compete.

So again, I am closer to having passed the window of age where I could be selected but seeing who they selected, I am again confronted with the seeming reality that I won't get selected.  Questions arise as I watch and listen on NASA TV.  Should I have joined the military, should I have gone into the Aerospace industry right after college, should I have gotten a masters.  Maybe I shouldn't have worked at a school for the Deaf, shouldn't have become a certified arborist, shouldn't have become a sailor, shouldn't have been trying to learn how to play the bass guitar, and so on and so forth.  NASA's not really looking for sailors, even though astronaut means "star voyager."  They're looking for military test pilots, NAVY SEALs and medical doctors.  I simply don't come close to measuring up to those selected.

Out of the 18,000 there are another hundred who got very close, and some will probably be selected next round.  I was not close at all and didn't even make it through the first round.  So it's extremely unlikely that it will ever happen, and though I've told myself that my whole life it's hard to come face to face with the likely reality.

I will still apply again.  I will be over 40 by the next selection but two were selected this round over 40.  But I expect to get no further that round.

So my answers to the questions?  Even though it may have been lessening my chances, I wouldn't change a thing.  I love my Deaf friends and their language, I love the trees, my sailboat, my borrowed bass guitar.  I've loved my five seasons in Antarcitca, and the expeditions I've done with friends.  I love the expeditions I've led for NOLS and Outward Bound, I love that my tree company is/was called Spacewalk Tree Service and its logo features an astronaut with a chainsaw.  I am happy and feel incredibly lucky.  I have had such incredible support and such an incredible family and network of friends.

And thank the universe, I have my own expeditions to embark on in a matter of days!  Flying my little Cessna-172 out to Colorado to see my brother play in his band, Dispatch, then sailing in Maine on my sailboat before returning to western Massachusetts for the start of the school year at Berkshire School, where I'll teach another year of Engineering and Astronomy.

Not getting selected gives me more freedom and freedom I have always loved.  I can keep sailing, keep flying, keep signing and singing, keep playing ice hockey and squash.  And I'll keep exploring the Earth as if I came from another planet.  I guess I'm an Terranaut, an Aquanaut and Aeronaut.  The elusive Astronaut out of reach, but there is much to be explored still by land, sea and sky.  I have my own "spaceships."  And so I'll not dwell and take to the skies on Monday!

Thank you to all who've supported me with such enthusiasm and for all your words of encouragement along the way!  They mean the world to me!

Here are a few of my favorite shots exploring the world by land sea and sky:

All suited up in my glacier rig while instructing a NOLS course.

One of my first tower climbs in Antarctica as an antenna rigger.

Riding in helicopter to our worksite in Antarctica. 

Sailing in Baja with NOLS.

Instructing a mountaineering course in the Waddington Range of British Columbia.

In the cockpit and at the controls!

All skin covered, probably high on Mt. Erebus in Antarctica.

My view from the cockpit.

Wind turbine work on Mt. Erebus, Antarctica.

Deep underwater in the Bahamas.

At the summit of one of the Scandinavia Peaks, Alaska on a personal trip.

Daphne, my long term spaceship.

Happy as a clam in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica.


  1. I know being an astronaut has been on your mind and heart for so long and that it is disappointing to feel so far away from that dream. But I am happy to hear that you wouldn't change your life as you have lived it! You have gotten to see and do such amazing things and you probably wouldn't be the interesting, adventurous, and well-traveled person you are today if you had chosen to single-mindedly pursue space travel (and you STILL might not have been selected to be an astronaut!) I love that you're keeping a glimmer of hope alive for the next selection never know...but I love the fact that you're living a life of exploration here on earth even more! --Schibon :)

    1. Thanks Shibon, you are right! I hope to see you next weekend!