Astronaut John Grunsfeld

In this episode...

The James Webb Space telescope—decades in the making—finally launched from Earth recently and promises to unlock some of the deepest mysteries of the universe. Who better about this milestone in astronomy than astronaut veteran of 5 space flights and former NASA science administrator, John Grunsfeld.

The JWST moves must further into the infrared. It will allow us to peer into dust that Hubble can’t see through where baby stars are being born.   

John Grunsfeld became known as the Hubble Telescope’s repair man, logging more than 58 hours in 5 space walks and three repair trips to the Hubble before being the last person to touch it in 2009. We talk about the risks of space flight.  

And I ask John how he felt flying in the space shuttle after the 2nd total crew loss in the 2003 Columbia accident.

The weakness of the shuttle which we always known is the heat protection. You’re enveloped in a 2000 degree plasma. If that thermal protection is compromised then it’s a very bad day.

Would we solve the environmental crisis that we face if world leaders had the chance to see the earth’s fragile bubble from space, the way John has?  

Over the course of five space flights flying around the world many many times. Other than occasionally over the open ocean everywhere that you look out the window you can see evidence of humans changing the earth.

We talk about how human emotions play a role in scientific research bias and the astonishing speed of technological development of the last 200 years.

Says Grunsfeld, “There’s no guarantee that the human brain has the capability to understand the universe. I think it’s so remarkable that in a very short amount of time, the last couple hundred years, we’ve gone from living in caves, being agrarians to intellectually modeling how the universe works down to the subatomic level, and remarkably so.”

And finally I ask this NASA insider for the honest truth about UAPs.

"You’re sitting on 4.5 million pounds of explosive fuel....You’re riding a big fireball. That’s dangerous. Anyone who thinks riding on a rocket isn’t dangerous shouldn’t be on top of a rocket."  

                          
– Former Astronaut and NASA Administrator, John Grunsfeld

Note: If you love astronomy, like I do, you’ll also want to listen to my interview of Nobel Laureate and Science Director for the James Webb telescope, John Mather, in Season Two. 

Former astronaut John Grunsfeld is a veteran of five space flights in the NASA space shuttle program from 1995-2009. He has logged more than 58 days in space, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of extravehicular activities in eight spacewalks. He visited the Hubble Space Telescope three times as an astronaut to service and upgrade the observatory.

John retired from NASA in December 2009 and served as deputy director for the Space Telescope Science Institute, in Baltimore, managing the science program for Hubble and its partner in the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. He returned to NASA in 2012 as the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA HQ in Washington until his retirement in 2016.

Grunsfeld was named associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters (HQ) in Washington, D.C. in January 2012. Dr. Grunsfeld’s background includes research in high energy astrophysics, cosmic ray physics and in the emerging field of exoplanet studies with specific interest in future astronomical instrumentation.

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