Chennai, Sep 5 : Even as he was dangling and walking in outer space for five hours or while fighting a fire or facing other challenges on-board the Russian space station Mir, no terrifying thoughts passed through his mind as the focus was on the task at hand, Jerry Linenger said.
He said the food tastes bland in outer space and for a change he preferred spicy food.
“Once you start floating, you concentrate on what you have to do and not to let my teammates down. Never had a moment where I was terrified,” he told IANS over phone from Mumbai on Thursday.
Jerry Linenger, a physician, triathlete, and an astronaut, flew to Mir to do world-class science and to show that a human could do more than endure in microgravity – that he could physically and mentally thrive there.
Linenger said that at Mir, he and others had to fight a fire on-board with thick smoke reducing the visibility in 1997. He survived three-feet high flames and melting metal.
Linenger had spent about five months in Mir with two Russian crew members.
In completing the mission, Linenger logged 50 million miles, the equivalent distance of more than 110 round trips to the moon.
Linenger was the first American ever to undock from a space station in a Russian Soyuz capsule and the first to do a spacewalk in a Russian spacesuit.
Curiously, Linenger who had everyone tracking the Mir on the edge of their seats while fighting the on-board fire or during his five-hour spacewalk, said he will be on his seat’s edge when India’s first moon lander Vikram will soft land on the south polar region of the Moon on September 7.
“I am exited and thrilled,” he said.
Linenger will share his expertise on National Geographic channel and Hotstar on a live show starting at 11.30 p.m. on September 6 and will be available to viewers on Hotstar, anytime and anywhere.
India’s current moon mission is a follow-up of its Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and the Mars Orbiter Mission/Mangalyaan launched in 2013 showing the world that Indian spacecraft can travel longer distances.
“With Chandrayaan-2 mission, India will not only gain the knowledge but it will be helping the humankind to go forward,” Linenger remarked.
He said it may be of help for the US that is planning to set up a moon base.
On July 22, the Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched into space by India’s heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprises of three segments – the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), the lander ‘Vikram’ (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover ‘Pragyan’ (27 kg, two payloads).
According to Linenger, the experiments that the Indian moon lander Vikram and rover Pragyan will perform are expected to give interesting results.
He said India’s technological advancement in the space sector will have its rub-off effect on the domestic industries benefitting the people at large and the success of the moon mission will also increase the brand equity of Indian products.
Linenger said, after America’s manned mission to the Moon, people bought US made products in the belief that their quality will be good as they had sent man to the Moon.
On his experience in space, Linenger said he was amazed at the way that the human body adapts to the conditions in space which in turn changed his perspective.
Stating that there will be a bit of stress while doing things differently in space he added: “I thought I can spend my whole life there.”
He said for an astronaut, brain power is more important than the physical attributes though in some situations like reaching a part, a tall person with long hands is an advantage.
Linenger said once back on earth there will be a feeling of heavy weight for an astronaut due to gravity.
He said it takes about 90 minutes for a space station to orbit the earth, so there will be 45 minutes of day time and 45 minutes of night time. In a day, an astronaut will see about 15 days and 15 nights.
Queried about his belief about life on other planets, Linenger said he is skeptical about it.