Local retired NASA astronaut reacts to commercial space flights | News
SHELBURNE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Billionaire Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday morning from Texas, where the 10-minute flight caught the attention of many around the world and in western Massachusetts.
Western Mass News caught up with a local retired astronaut to get her take on Tuesday’s flight and the future of commercial space travel.
All eyes were on the New Shepard rocket Tuesday morning when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos along with three others took off for space on Blue Origin’s first human flight.
“Watching a flight like this, it really starts long before the people are climbing the launch tower to begin,” former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman said.
While Bezos and his crew completed their journey to space in just over 10 minutes, Coleman, who lives in western Mass., has been to space a total of three times, once spending nearly six months at the International Space Station.
She said commercial space travel will be possible in the very near future.
“The path of pioneering is really a good one to look back at and realized that it’s just time to pioneer space. And what’s happened in the last few weeks and in the next few months is breaking open a new world of commercial space flight, and it doesn’t mean that there’s going to be hundreds soon like this year but in a couple of years,” Coleman explained.
Coleman said a common misunderstanding is that competition exists between NASA and commercial space flights, but that is not the case.
“I think these partnerships are really great for everybody, and it’s not a competition because NASA will continue to be an agency funded by the government, your tax dollars, and takes risks that you cannot ask commercial companies to take,” Coleman said.
After retiring from her job as an astronaut five years ago, she said the next best thing to being up in space yourself is getting to watch others have that experience too.
But there is something even bigger to be said for Tuesday’s mission.
“For people to realize that figure out what you do what you love and gather the skills to do it, and now we are just adding space to that mix,” Coleman said.
Bezos was accompanied by his brother along with 82-year-old Wally Funk, whose lifelong dream was to travel into space after completing astronaut training when she was 24, as well as 18-year-old Oliver Damen, from the Netherlands, making them both the oldest and youngest people to travel into space.