May 26, 2011 - Claremont, Calif. -
Veteran astronaut Stanley Love ’87 spoke with Scientific American astronomy editor George Musser about being in space and the future of spaceflight on the eve of the launch of the penultimate space shuttle mission, STS-134. During his conversation, Love talked about how his experience in the HMC Bates Aeronautics Program influenced his career choice.
Musser [1:50]: “Was there one teacher, experience or memory that you have that drove you to be an astronaut?”
Love [1:57-3:30]: “I always wanted to to do it, but I had a couple of very good teachers…In college, I had the chance to learn to fly an airplane. My flight instructor, Iris Critchell, who has also taught another astronaut how to fly planes, was a great influence on me. The astronaut that she taught, Pinky Nelson…came back to our school--he had graduated 15 years ahead of me--and talked about being an astronaut. And he said, ‘everyone sitting in this room has the drive and intelligence to be an astronaut if they want.’ And I’m sitting there in the back going ‘hmm.’ I never thought of it as an actual job that you could get! It always was in a book or on TV or something like that. So I kind of kept that in my head. Later on, Dr. Nelson retired from the astronaut core and went up to the University of Washington to be a professor, which oddly enough is where I was working as a graduate student. So I went and knocked on his door and said ‘Hey, how do I apply for this?’ He gave me lots of pointers, and I sent in the papers. After seven rounds of applications and three interviews, they finally decided they were so sick of seeing my application that they probably better just hire me.”
Graduates of the Bates Program include George "Pinky" Nelson ’72, who flew three space shuttle missions during the 1980s, and Stanley Love, who flew in his first spaceflight with the crew of STS-122 Atlantis and logged over 300 hours in space.
Listen to the Scientific American interview
Media Contact: Judy Augsburger