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Here’s the Wild Idea

Shannon’s Wild Idea: To work for NASA and spend months aboard the international space station.

Shannon Walker first dreamed of becoming an astronaut in the 1960s. After getting her undergraduate degree in physics and her Masters of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in Space Physics, she got her start with the Rockwell Space Operations Company at the Johnson Space Center in 1987 as a robotics flight controller for the space shuttle program. In 2004, she was selected to be a part of NASA, and six years later she served as a flight engineer for a long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station. Not only did Shannon need to know how to work a spacecraft, but she had to know how to do it in Russian.

In addition to spending time far above the earth, she has also spent time below sea level as an aquanaut on the NEEMO, an underwater space station. She also loves the outdoors and has seen earth from a rare perspective so I was excited to get her thoughts on how the planet and the environment are changing.

Shannon and I discussed how she became an astronaut (which I think most people dream about as kids) and she shared her advice for anyone who wants to work at NASA or who wants to go to outer space. We also talked about overcoming rejection, the excitement that comes from actually learning about science, and how there is so much to explore here on earth.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You have ever wanted to go to space.
  • You’re interested in getting a new perspective on our planet.
  • You are focused on achieving a huge, long-term goal and need some inspiration.

Key Takeaways

  • 2:40 – When Shannon got the idea to become an astronaut and how she pursued it.
  • 5:05 – Shannon’s first trip to space.
  • 6:10 – Shannon’s experience with the countdown.
  • 6:50 – What goes through your head when you’re about to launch and what can go wrong.
  • 10:10 – What it’s like to be in space.
  • 12:00 – One of Shannon’s favorite things she saw in space.
  • 13:00 – What Shannon spent her days doing on the space station.
  • 14:30 – What being in space taught her about the world.
  • 16:55 – How she stayed focused on achieving her goal.
  • 20:05 – What her childhood was like.
  • 21:40 – The training required for astronauts, which is INTENSE (to say the least).
  • 23:55 – Shannon’s experience underwater on the NEEMO.
  • 27:20 – What it was like taking the trans-Siberian railway.
  • 28:50 – How you can get involved in NASA or other space programs.
  • 32:05 – How Shannon has seen the world and environment change.
  • 33:10 – What it’s like being married to an astronaut.
  • 34:20 – Shannon’s advice for 15 year olds.
  • 36:25 – The Japanese send good curry to space.
  • 37:00 – How you can achieve your wild idea.



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