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Samantha Cristoforetti e Jessica Watkins dallo spazio: la realtà della situazione a bordo (e una chicca di fantascienza)

Ultimo aggiornamento: 2022/05/11 13:00.

Ieri (6 maggio) Samantha Cristoforetti e Jessica Watkins hanno risposto alle domande dei giornalisti della CBS News e della CNN. Questa è la registrazione e la trascrizione sommaria della conversazione (poco meno di 22 minuti). Segnalo in particolare due risposte (che ho evidenziato in grassetto e tradotto): quella a proposito della situazione a bordo in considerazione della guerra in Ucraina, che è una preoccupazione che hanno in molti, e quella, ben più leggera, a proposito di un’uniforme o tenuta legata alla fantascienza che Samantha avrebbe a quanto pare portato con sé (come, nel suo viaggio precedente, aveva portato la giacca della divisa di Star Trek Voyager).

2022/05/10 11:10. AstronautiCAST ha tradotto e sottotitolato l’intera intervista:

2022/05/11 13:00. AstronautiCAST ha pubblicato anche la traduzione integrale.

HO: (a 00m:36s) Station, this is Houston, are you ready for the event?

SC: Houston, this is Station, we are ready for the event.

HO: CBS News, this is Mission Control Houston. Please call Station for voice check.

CBS: Station, this is Bill Harwood, CBS News at the Kennedy Space Center, how do you hear me?

JW: Hello, we have you loud and clear.

CBS: Well hey, thanks so much for taking time to talk with us today. I know you guys have hit the deck running and you've got a busy schedule and we certainly do appreciate it. I wanted to start out by asking both of you about your impressions of launch aboard a Crew Dragon Falcon 9. Jessica, you've never ridden a rocket before, of course. What was it like what was the sound like? The vibrations, the acceleration, the experience?

JW: Yeah, it is tough to describe. It is certainly a sensory experience, all of the feeling, the physical feelings that you're feeling, the sounds that you're hearing as you mentioned, you know, we do a lot of training out at SpaceX in Hawthorne for what we're going to experience on Dragon, but getting all of that kind of coming together all at once and also, you know, kind of experiencing the emotional side as well, you know, realizing that we are really actually embarking on this journey and headed up to the International Space Station, so all that coming together was pretty amazing.

CBS: You know, I occasionally amuse myself by thinking about how Ben Franklin or Leonardo Da Vinci would react to riding in a car or flying in an airplane, but flying in a rocket... it really takes that to a whole different level. Were you even a little bit nervous about it? I mean, was there a moment when you might have thought to yourself “What am I doing here”?

JW: Yeah, you know, there certainly is an understanding of what we're undertaking here and certainly spaceflight is hard, we all are aware of that, but we just have such amazing teams working on the ground, both the SpaceX team, the NASA team, making sure that we are safe and that our mission is going to be successful, so we can certainly rest assured knowing that we have such a great team of folks looking out for us.

CBS (2:55): I totally get that, but you didn't answer the question! Did you get even a little bit nervous? Because I think most people would.

JW: Yeah, you know, again, I think they're certainly an understanding of the reality of the situation and the risks that are involved, but we are in a place of privilege where we are able to talk about those risks, understand how they're mitigated and that really helps us assuage our fears.

SC: Maybe if I can add to that, certainly as Watty...

CBS: No, go ahead Samantha.

SC: ...I just wanted to say that I think for us, and especially for Watty on her first flight but even for me on my second one, the feeling of joy for having gotten to that point after so such a long time of training and the anticipation for all this amazing adventure that awaits you on Space Station, I think that just, you know, takes over emotionally so that, yes, maybe you're a little bit nervous, but you don't focus on that all that much.

CBS: Well, hey, as long as you've got the microphone I wanted to ask your impressions of Crew Dragon. You know, were there any surprises about that experience? And maybe how it compared to riding on a Soyuz.

SC (4:20): Yeah, so the process of launching to space, so the rocket launch itself, the sensations that you feel in the rocket, the duration of the ascent up to orbital insertion the g's, the staging, you know, when when one stage of the rocket stops working and all of a sudden you lose the thrust for a few seconds and then the next stage kicks in, which is quite dynamic, and then that transition from, you know, feeling squeezed in your seat, that, you know, very sudden transition to being all of a sudden weightless, all of that is is quite similar. And I was incredibly happy to have a chance to experience all of that again, maybe with more awareness, maybe being less overwhelmed emotionally, and so having a little bit more time of really taking note of all of those sensations, more than the first time. And then certainly the spacecraft is, as you know, as we all know, a little bit different, so certainly a little bit more comfortable in terms of of seating position now.

CBS: We enjoyed that photo you tweeted showing the birthday cake and the shot of Mr Spock in there. I heard before launch that you may or may not have a replica costume from another science fiction show with you. Any hints when we might find out what that might be? 

[La foto in questione è qui sotto, datata 5 maggio 2022]

SC (a 5m45s): Let's see... a hint could be my previous job as a combat pilot in the Italian Air Force. 

CBS: Ci è piaciuta molto la foto che hai tweetato, che mostrava la torta di compleanno e l'immagine del signor Spock. Ho sentito dire, prima della tua partenza, che forse hai con te una replica di una divisa di un’altra serie di fantascienza. Puoi dare qualche indizio su quando scopriremo di cosa potrebbe trattarsi?

SC: Vediamo... un indizio potrebbe essere il mio lavoro precedente come pilota da combattimento nell’Aeronautica Militare Italiana. 

CBS: Okay, that sounds great! So either Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars, right? No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. We'll have to wait and see. Let me ask Jessica a question. You know, we talked a lot before launch about your geology training and a chance to look at the Earth from space, you know, geologists normally look at rocks with a hand lens or a thin section up close and personal what's it like looking at that from 260 miles up and is Kjell pestering you to explain things like he said he woul?

JW: Yes, so the the view is even even better than I could have imagined or could have expected. It is amazing to see as you're kind of discussing the the scale of the Earth itself, of the whole sphere, and then also of the features on the Earth for me. I actually spent a lot of my time doing geology also doing remote sensing, and so that process involves looking at photographs, as well as as data, of surfaces of planets from a distance removed away from the surface. So it actually is quite an interesting parallel for me to be able to now look at those features from the advantage point of the ISS, so it is really neat for me and yes, my crewmates have given me the joy and honor of being able to discuss a little bit of geology already, so it's been super fun for me.

CBS: Well, you know, you sound totally at ease up there when I hear you talking on air to ground. Has the transition to life and weightlessness been easy? Difficult? Something in between? What's what's been the biggest challenge for you getting used to living on Station?

JW: Yeah, you know, I think the probably the biggest thing to learn how to do since we've been up here, as well as probably the most fun thing for me, has been getting used to the the 3D nature of the ISS. I'm getting to literally climb on the walls like Spider-Man and learn how to use my feet instead of my hands to translate around. It has just been so fun and just being able to see, you know, how my brain reorients and really is able to take in spatial information in 3D and that transition over time has been really cool to watch.

CBS (8:15): Guys, I've got about two minutes left. I want to shift gears and and Samantha, let me ask you this one. ESA is in the process of recruiting new astronauts and I want to get your sense of what the prospects are for increasing the number of female candidates, and how important is that for ESA and for Europe.

SC: Oh, I think the prospects are great. We had over I believe 25% of the applications were from female candidates this time around which is, you know, a significant increase compared to the previous election process, which is the one in which I was selected. So I am quite sure that by the end of this year I will have some, you know, new colleagues and among them also some new female colleagues. And, you know, I think that's important because it just looks, you know, if you look at the European astronaut corps right now there's only, you know, one woman, which is myself and that kind of looks... it does really not reflect society that much, so I'm looking forward to have some more female colleagues.

CBS: Thanks. And Jessica, I'll close out with with a similar question to you. You're the first African-American woman to make a long-duration flight on the Station. How important is it for NASA to recruit more women and more women of color? I mean, you must see yourself as a role model, but can you talk about that just a little bit? And that'll close it out for me guys, thanks a lot.

JW: Yeah, absolutely, thank you for your time. I certainly think that it is is important going into the exciting future ahead of us aNASA that we have a diverse corps and continue to focus on the diversity, impacts of diversity on it on the greater team here at NASA. So as we look forward to the Artemis missions coming up here in the near future and look towards the Moon and eventually to Mars we're going to need people with diverse skill sets, diverse backgrounds diverse experiences, and so I certainly think it's important for us to prioritize and focus on that moving forward.

HO: Station, this is Houston ACR. That concludes the CBS News portion of the event. Please stand by for a voice check from CNN.

CNN: Station, this is Rachel Crane with CNN, how do you hear me? 

JW: We have you loud and clear, how us?

CNN: Loud and clear. All right, I'll jump right in you guys thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Jessica you are the first black woman to conduct a long-duration mission on Station. You know making you a role model for women of color all around the world. Now being a few days into your historic mission has the magnitude of what you have taken on here finally begun to sink in?

JW: You know honestly i think these past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind we've just been um as a crew trying to take in as much information as we could from our our colleagues the Crew 3 team and just handing over all of their knowledge and insight and efficiencies that they've gained over their time and successful mission here. So we've just been trying to learn as much as we can from them soak it all in and then I have just been learning to adapt learning to translate in in zero g and get myself settled in so that's been most of my focus uh the past few days.

SC: She’s a natural space ninja.

CNN: Jessica, this mission is your first space mission and a historic one at that. But clearly, you know, your personal aspirations don't stop here. So tell us about your you know future dreams and goals as an astronaut.

JW: Yeah well certainly first and foremost my my closest dream and closest goal is to have a successful mission here with my crewmates and on Crew 4 Expedition 67. We have a lot of science to undertake, a lot of maintenance to do on the Station and we just look forward to a super successful mission working together. In the future, NASA is working towards heading to the Moon and eventually to Mars with the Artemis program and so we look forward to seeing the progress in those missions and hopefully being involved in that process along the way.

CNN: Yeah, Jessica, you've been chosen to be part of the astronaut corps for Artemis. So now having had you know just a taste of space does it make you, you know, more eager than ever before to become the first woman on the Moon?

JW: Well I certainly I would like to you know spend as much time and space as I can. I've enjoyed it so far um you know but we definitely have a diverse and expert corps of astronauts, all of whom would be capable of taking that on, so we'll see what happens in the future, but certainly enjoying my time here now.

CNN: Now Samantha and Jessica, only about 20 of the international space industry workforce is female and that's a percentage that has remained relatively unchanged for 30 years and only about 11 of astronauts have been women. So why are women so underrepresented in the space industry and why is it important to change these statistics?

SC: Yeah, I think that some of those statistics can be a little bit misleading sometimes because we take into account like the entire history of uh human space flight which is now uh you know five or six decades uh and so it reflects also a historic circumstances in which indeed you know women were either not in the astronaut corps at all or very few but I would say, you know, the the especially the NASA corps is extremely diverse and the last few selections over the past 10 years have had new classes coming in in which women were either 50 or very close to 50 percent and when it comes to the European astronaut corps we we have some work to do in that sense but our last selection goes quite back to 2009 and we are in the process of having a new selection right now in which I am quite sure that we will select several new female astronauts and so yeah yeah, I think that things that are looking quite good I would say.

CNN: And this question is for both of you, you know, as women and for you, Jessica, as a woman of color did you face barriers to get to this moment and what is it like to reflect on that from your current perch up in space?

JW: Yeah, you know it certainly is an amazing place to be able to think back on on my journey and how we how I arrived here how we ended up in this amazing place with this amazing privilege and certainly for me you know I'm just super grateful for all of the mentors that I had along the way that helped encourage me to along pathways that helped to lead me to to reach my goals and to help encourage me along the way to help find my passions help me pursue those and help me find opportunities that would enable that for me so I'm just really grateful for those people in my life and those those opportunities that I've had that have enabled me to be here now.

CNN (16:16): Samantha, there is a war here on Earth right now, with the US and the EU supporting one side and Russia on the other. So how does that impact your working relationship with cosmonauts on Station, and does the mood feel different from when you were there last?

SC: Yeah, the answer to the last part of your question is no. It’s quite the same. We are here as an international crew and I think that we all understand that what we do here is valuable, that the Space Station is valuable, and that even in times of conflict you have to preserve bridges, you have to preserve some areas of cooperation. And, you know, the best candidate for that is just the Space Station. I mean, it has a legacy working together on an international level and doing that peacefully and effectively, you know, being able to operate a vessel, a spacecraft in space on a day-to-day basis with, you know, an international community behind it, that is valuable. And we just all understand how important that is and even more than we did before we want to focus on the joint goals that we have which is to, you know, preserve this vessel and pursue the science and all the other activities that are ongoing here.

CNN: But do you worry that the Russian government could order their cosmonauts to take aggressive actions on Station? You know, like closing off access to Russian modules or stop sharing resources? And if not, why not?

SC: Yeah, no, we do not worry about that. And the reason is that, you know, we have I think an instinctive understanding of the community that we are part of and we understand that from outside, you know, the US side, European side, Canadian, Japanese and Russian, there is the same attachment and the same understanding of how important Space Station is. And I understand that there is sometimes chatter in the media or on social media, but we are inside this community and we have a direct understanding and a direct sense of how important Space Station is for all the international partners.

CNN: Samantha, c’è una guerra qui sulla Terra in questo momento, con gli Stati Uniti e l’Unione Europea che sostengono una parte e la Russia dall’altra. In che modo questo influisce sui vostri rapporti di lavoro con i cosmonauti sulla Stazione? L’umore sembra diverso rispetto a quando eri lì la volta scorsa?

SC: Sì, la risposta all’ultima parte della tua domanda è “no”. È lo stesso. Siamo qui come equipaggio internazionale e credo che capiamo tutti che quello che facciamo qui è prezioso, che la Stazione Spaziale è preziosa, e che persino in momenti di conflitto bisogna mantenere dei ponti, bisogna mantenere delle aree di cooperazione. E la Stazione è la candidata migliore per questo. Ha un retaggio di lavoro insieme a livello internazionale, e fare questo pacificamente ed efficacemente, essere in grado di far funzionare un vascello, un veicolo spaziale nello spazio giorno dopo giorno, con il sostegno di una comunità internazionale, è prezioso. E noi tutti capiamo quanto questo sia importante e ancora più di prima vogliamo concentrarci sui nostri obiettivi comuni, che sono preservare questo vascello e fare ricerca scientifica e tutte le altre attività che abbiamo in corso qui.

CNN: Ma vi preoccupate che il governo russo potrebbe ordinare ai suoi cosmonauti di compiere azioni aggressive sulla Stazione? Cose come chiudere l’accesso ai moduli russi o smettere di condividere le risorse? E se non ve ne preoccupate, perché?

SC: Sì, no, non ce ne preoccupiamo. La ragione è che credo che noi abbiamo una comprensione istintiva della comunità di cui facciamo parte e che comprendiamo che dall’esterno, da parte statunitense, europea, canadese, giapponese e russa ci sia lo stesso attaccamento e la stessa comprensione di quanto sia importante la Stazione Spaziale. E capisco che a volte corrano voci nei media o nei social media, ma noi siamo all’interno di questa comunità e abbiamo una comprensione diretta e una percezione diretta di quanto la Stazione Spaziale sia importante per tutti i partner internazionali.

CNN: Jessica, what would you tell your younger self right now about your journey?

JW: Now I would probably tell myself to dream big and you never never know when your dreams can actually come true. It's hard to believe that it's all really happening.

CNN: And what do you think can be done to have more women and more women of color in space?

JW: You know, I think if we look at the numbers I think the story that they tell us is that where we can have the most influence is kind of lower down in the pipeline or earlier in the pipeline. So I think investing in school programs and education and internships like the NASA internships, for example, particularly the ones that I've been a part of and helped enable me to get here today, I think those are ways that we can engage kids at an early age to get interested in STEM and kind of invigorate that passion in them that allows them to pursue pathways that will enable them to be in positions like this if they so desire.

CNN: We have less than one minute left. This is my last question for you guys. Jessica, the ISS partnership is perhaps one of the last remaining diplomatic links between the US and Russia. Does that put pressure on you guys to help preserve this working partnership to make sure that everything is running smoothly?

JW: No, I think we we certainly understand the magnitude of, kind of as Samantha was mentioning, the magnitude of what we're doing up here, the importance of the work that we are doing. But I think ultimately we are a family up here. We have dinner with our cosmonaut colleagues and we understand this shared mission, the shared goal, and we all work together to do our best to accomplish that and do so successfully safely and efficiently.

CNN: Thank you so much you guys.

HO: Station, this is Houston ARC. That concludes the event. Thank you, thank you to all the participants from CBS News and CNN. Station, we are now resuming operational audio communications.

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