BHUBANESWAR: Students of city schools got a rare opportunity to volley questions at space scientist and NASA astronaut Jack D Fischer, who answered each and every one of them with honesty and wit. TOI was there:

Q: How was your journey to NASA and then to space?

: The journey is little bit frustrating because you have to wait a long time to be able to fly in space as we don’t have too many flights. But when you finally get to fly and experience space for the first time, it is worth the wait.

Q: What are the things you remember the most from space?

: I loved it all. I loved the view from the window of my space station, seeing the earth in all its different moods, the billions of stars and the highest mountain top. I loved playing with my food! I loved being part of the bigger team and the feeling of contributing hopefully towards making things better for all of you guys.

Q: How did it feel to realise that you are a tiny part of the universe?

A: The feeling is overwhelming. When you look you see billions and billions of stars and you realize you are just one planet, one solar system and it makes you feel so tiny, like a grain of sand. And it gives you the faith that there is a greater player, the Almighty.

Q: How was the experience of space walking?

: It was too much fun and extremely memorable. My first spacewalk during the day made it feel like the whole earth passed under my feet very quickly. Then during the night when you looked down it was the most amazing and incredible thing.

Q: What are the major challenges of being up there in space?

A: Missing your family is a big challenge. Sometimes when people get on board they feel sick because the vestibular system gets screwed up in space. We have lots of issues like bone loss, muscle loss but we get used to it and we have to do some exercises and take medicines like calcium supplements. Basically going to space ages you.

Q: When you were a kid had you ever dreamed of going to space?

: Oh yes. When I was six I visited my Grandpa who worked at Johnson’s Space Centre in Texas and I saw the big rockets stationed there.

Q: Do you think that number of women astronauts is increasing?

: In our project there were as many women as there were men. Peggy, my co-astronaut in space, holds the record of 665 days — it is the highest number of days any American has spent in space.

Q: How long it will take to set up human civilisation in Mars?

A: Not very long.

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