| Marsha S. Ivins speaks during the programme at Royal Global School in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, May 4: Former Prime Minister Morarji Desai is believed to have had it straight. She had it purified.
There was a collective “yuk” as Marsha S. Ivins, a former NASA astronaut, touched on the diet part while in space with a straight face during an interactive session with students here.
Marsha told the students, who were hanging on to every word of hers, that water was so precious in space that astronauts could not even allow their urine to go waste. “We purified it and had it just as water,” she said.
Marsha, who had the rare experience of spending 55 days in space, today shared her views with students in a programme, 55 Days in Space: The Story of an American Astronaut, organised by Royal Global School here.
She supported her talk with visuals, both video footage and stills. For one-and-a-half hours, Stanley Kubrick’s famous scientific movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and real space seemed to merge as Marsha gave the students an insight into the life of an astronaut in space.
There were shots of Marsha’s hair shooting up in the absence of any gravitational force, water forming into a ball and hovering in the air because of high surface tension, of astronauts floating inside the space station and that of cities, rivers, mountain ranges, active volcano, deserts, oceans and frozen oceans and earth at night from space.
“Thrilling” and “memorable” was how the students described the experience. A “wow” kept breaking out every now and then. The “yuk” would follow.
“If you want to open a door you have to push it very gently. If you push hard you will be pushed back and if you try to push harder you might even miss it as you might land up somewhere else,” said Marsha.
As the students listened in rapt attention, she continued, “Outside space station if you are exposed to sunlight for 45 minutes your body temperature will go up to 100 degrees Celsius and if there is no sunlight it will drop to minus 150 degrees Celsius”.
Born on April 15, 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, Marsha graduated from Nether Providence High School, Wallingford, Pennsylvania, in 1969 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1973.
Marsha was employed at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in July 1974, working as an engineer for orbiter displays and controls and man machine engineering, and development of the Orbiter Heads-Up Display. In 1980, she was assigned as a flight engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft (Aircraft Operations) and a co-pilot in the NASA administrative aircraft (Gulfstream-1). Marsha was selected in the NASA Astronaut Class of 1984 as a mission specialist.
A veteran of five space flights, (STS-32 in 1990, STS-46 in 1992, STS-62 in 1994, STS-81 in 1997 and STS-98 in 2001), Marsha has logged over 1,318 hours in space. Her longest duration in Space was 312 hours, 23 minutes and 16 seconds and the shortest 191 hours, 16 minutes and 7 seconds.
The students asked various questions like the courses one requires to pursue to become an astronaut, the preparation an astronaut makes before flying into the space and whether she had seen any UFO.
Nayanika Bhattacharyya from Maria Public School asked whether her bone had become weak, which is said to happen to astronauts. Marsha said her bones had become 17 per cent weak in space and till the moment she landed on earth but after touchdown she was normal.
“It will be a memorable day of my life. We got to know many things today,” a student said.
“What are the courses available in India to become an astronaut?” asked Abhisekh Saikia, a student of SBOA Public School. Marsha replied that she did not know what courses were available in India but said one needed to pursue courses related to technology and astronomy.