A Notre Dame graduate is the commander of the International Space Station.
Last month on 16 Morning News we interviewed NASA astronaut Kevin Ford live from the Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. Then just weeks later, we brought you his launch to space live on the air.
On Tuesday, we got the chance speak with the 52-year-old from aboard the space station about life 240 miles above earth. Ford is one of three crew members on board right now, the other two are from Russia. Ford says there are scientists all over the world who are the real brains behind the research they're doing.
"We do a lot of medical research,” Ford said. “Osteoporosis is one of the things that affects us the way it affects say elderly people and right now in the Japanese segment there's an interesting experiment going on with fish that generate and lose bone in the same way that mammals do and since we're mammals what happens to them completely applies to us so it will be very useful, maybe someday we can completely eliminate Osteoporosis based on what they're studying."
Ford was born in Portland, Indiana. His current hometown is Montpelier, Indiana where he lives with his wife and 2 children. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering back in 1982 from the University of Notre Dame. He has been following the Irish closely as they ended their season undefeated and secured a spot in the BCS national championship game. He even wore a Notre Dame “Play Like a Champion” shirt for our interview, a motto he says he lives by every day as well up in space.
“This modern day technology that we have at NASA nowadays they sometimes can pipe up through the satellite feed the games live, especially on the weekends when we’re not doing a lot of business and there’s a little extra data available,” Ford said. “So the USC game I stayed up until 4 a.m. my time to catch the end of that and got to see almost all the game. It was really great to see of course and I’ve been following the season pretty closely.”
Life as an astronaut in space is a very interesting one. There are things we all take for granted here on earth, like gravity, that can make things a bit challenging.
“One of the fun things about getting here is the zero gravity and floating around,” Ford said. “But it also makes things very difficult. This morning I had to take some books apart and put new pages in them in the books and when you open them up, the pages just fly away so I went near a vent and it kind of held them in place because sometimes gravity is really your friend.”
“Of course it’s a metallic, plastic environment up here so you miss the sights and the smells of home of course so many faces,” Ford said. “We get to see each other and my crew mates are like brothers to me but to see a lot of people is a rare thing. So you kind of miss social interaction and you miss the environment of earth which, you know, we were really built for.”
Ford says he did get to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with his Russian crew members, complete with smoked turkey, cranberries, dressing, corn, candied yams.
“We have a food heater to warm things up,” Ford said. “We don’t have a lot of refrigeration but occasionally we can refrigerate some drinks or something to have them cold. Usually room temperature or hot is the way we go.”
Since the first expedition in October of 2000 the International Space Station has been visited by 204 people.
The complex now has more livable room than a conventional five-bedroom house, and has two bathrooms, a gymnasium and a 360-degree bay window. The entire space station’s length and width is the size of a football field. It weighs 861,804 pounds, not including visiting vehicles.
We have links to more information about Kevin Ford and the International Space Station on the Big Red Bar.