Dear 100 Hour Board,
If you were accepted into the astronaut program, what would make you resign from it? What would you guess was the reason this person did?
Being an astronaut is kind of my dream career, and low-key my motivation for majoring in engineering, so this is a good question for me to think about.
Obviously, being an astronaut is no walk in the park. Look at the other writers' lists. But honestly, it takes so much to even get to the point of astronaut candidacy that there are only three things I can think of that would cause me to seriously consider resigning:
- Pregnancy. This is not very likely, but I could see myself getting pregnant and deciding to resign and raise my child instead. I think it would be awful to be separated from my child for so long, especially when they're small. And I'm not sure I would want to put all that pressure on my spouse - if I was married to an astronaut, it would be really, really stressful for my spouse to hand me a small child and then go off to space for months at a time.
- Mental illness. If anything is actually going to stop me from being an astronaut, this is by far the most likely of the three. My family has a history of mental illness, which I did not manage to escape. Right now, I really only have seasonal illness, and I'm hopeful that somehow either it will go away or that someday I will be able to manage it well enough with treatments that I wouldn't be disqualified as an astronaut candidate. But I'm not getting my hopes up. If I somehow did make it all the way to the astronaut program and my symptoms came back, I might have to resign (of course, only after talking it through with my doctor, bosses, and coworkers and doing everything I can to manage it).
- Long-term unresolved sexism, racism, or other disrespect toward myself or my coworkers. This is also probably unlikely, especially given the social movements lately that have made it a little bit easier to speak out on issues like this. But if I experienced such disrespect, and it persisted after I exhausted all channels to resolve the issue, I don't think I could stick with it.
Besides those three things, I don't know -- all I've experienced so far is what it takes to get an engineering undergraduate degree, and that's been more than I ever thought I could handle. So, if I somehow made it past all of the schooling, all of the post-educational experience, and the whole application and vetting process... I think I could handle almost anything. Astronauts are metal, man.
The correct question is what wouldn't make me resign from it? Yes yes, being in space is cool and you get to float around and feel like you're living out your science fiction dreams. And maybe just being in space for a day or two would be cool. But have you ever thought of all the absolutely horrid things about being a long-term astronaut in space?
- Pooping in space. (To quote one astronaut: "Give me a napkin quick. There's a turd floating through the air.")
- Sleeping in space.
- Eating in space.
- Showering in space.
- Can't season food.
- Long term health effects.
- Away from family.
- Medical emergency = death.
- Communication isn't instantaneous.
- Can't go to dentist or doctor for emergencies.
- You can die at any moment.
- You puke. A lot.
- It smells.
- Anti-gravity dumpster.
- Sinus problems.
- Hearing loss.
- Radiation exposure.
- Grueling training.
- Crying makes everything worse.
-guppy of doom, enjoying the ground