For #AskExtremeRoss, @tayo_cee asked, “Do you ever feel lonely up in space?”
For me, I don’t think lonely is really the feeling that best summed up what I felt while on a mission. For starters, we were usually in communication with either our operations at our base or with the mission controllers, who might be sitting halfway around the world, but we could still communicate with freely. You really felt like you were just one piece of the team trying to accomplish whatever your mission is out there.
Still, I’ve always been a bit more of an introvert and comfortable with my own thoughts. It might drive others nuts to not be able to just shoot the breeze with someone right there. And though I wouldn’t classify it as loneliness (which I consider to be more of an emotion of longing for others), you most definitely do get the real sense that you are all alone up there, despite however many people you can communicate with in various parts of the world.
It’s true that there are multiple resources to help you through issues, whether over the radio or datalinks. I mean, I wrote a whole story about how the chase car pilot helps you out. This is more of a raw determination and acceptance that you are the ultimate master of your own destiny, and no one can see you through to a safe and successful mission completion without you doing the heavy lifting. Thanks for the question.