NASA granted CTTechJunkie the opportunity for a short interview with Astronaut Rick Mastracchio, who is readjusting to life back on Earth following a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station.
Mastracchio, now in Houston, was in orbit with Russian Cosmonauts as the relationship between the United States and Russia deteriorated because of the crisis in the Ukraine. Mastracchio says that despite the tensions on the ground it was business as usual 230 miles above the ground.
“On a personal basis both here on the ground and on space station, we get along great with the folks from Russia,” Mastracchio said, “We discussed it a little bit up there with the cosmonauts. Of course they have a different perspective than we do.”
Russia has declared their intentions to end the space station partnership in 2020, several years before NASA would like to retire the station. Mastracchio thinks that the high cost of space exploration will require international partnerships moving forward.
“But I also think it’s important the United States not be dependent on other countries,” he said.
Mastracchio adjusted quickly to life back on Earth, saying his prior spaceflight experiences and a diligent exercise regimen in orbit helped with the transition.
He flew on three prior space shuttle missions that helped construct the station, but this mission was his longest duration space flight. He has spent 228 days off the planet over the course of his spaceflight career. Mastracchio also is now ranked fifth among spacewalkers, spending more than 53 hours cumulatively outside of a spacecraft. This includes two unplanned spacewalks Mastracchio conducted to repair broken station components.
“Every time you go out there and you do a spacewalk, maybe there’s a little less stress because you get a little more used to it,” Mastracchio said.
Mastracchio says he hopes to visit Connecticut sometime this fall. He will return a Geocaching Travel Bug given to him by Waterbury elementary school students.