‘Everything in space is spooky’

2010-10-18 12:23

Most people don’t have to worry about their food floating away.

But from January 1990 to May 2006, Eileen Collins had to.

In February 1995 Collins (54) became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle.

And in July 1999 she became the first female commander of a space shuttle. She retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in May 2006.

In an interview with City Press, Collins said that like the food scenario, everything in space was out of the ordinary.

“It’s spooky to be in space. Things are moving around you and even your hair is floating about your face. Also, I had to strap my sleeping bag to the ceiling of the shuttle and sleep with my face facing the ceiling.

Collins remembered her first flight in space.

“The best part was experiencing micro-gravity, and seeing the earth. I was busy making sure was working well and doing my part as a member of the team when my commander told me to take a break and look out the window.

“It was my first sunrise in space. I was so overwhelmed. I said out loud, ‘the earth is round!’ I’d heard it a lot but it was the first time I actually saw it with my own eyes.”

But it wasn’t all business for Collins. Being in space has heavily influenced her outlook on life.

“Because I have flown in space, I am less stressed. I’ve realised that many of the things we worry about daily, like clothes and hair are not so important. It has also taught me to put more emphasis on family and friends. How I treat my family and friends is more important than how I feel about myself. Family is everything.”

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