Astronaut Mike Fossum is an Aggie grad. He and fellow astronaut Ron Garan are both Aggie dads, which gives them a mutual love of a school as they work together on the International Space Station.
Friday, the two members of Expedition 28 aboard the ISS spoke with News 3 about their mission, the end of the space shuttle program, their love of A&M, social media's impact, and the effect an American tragedy had on NASA.
Fossum graduated from Texas A&M in 1980 after coming to campus from McAllen. Garan is from Yonkers, New York, but has a child at A&M, as does Fossum.
The following are quotes from the interview. Watch the attached video for the complete interview.
On the last space shuttle mission, which came and left the ISS while they were on-board:
Garan: "That was bittersweet. We realized that we were witnessing history unfold before us. We realized that a chapter of our nation's history, a chapter of space exploration was closing, but we're filled with confidence and optimism that the closing of the chapter leads to the opening of a new chapter and a new era of space exploration that will see us leaving lower Earth orbit and leaving the solar system."
Fossum: "I think we both feel a deep sense of history, that we're in the closing pages of a 30-year history of the shuttle program, but we're very, very fortunate to have lived through this time, but recognizing also that most of America, most of the country only knows us as a country that flies space shuttles on a fairly routine basis with a lot of people coming and going from space. That chapter has ended. It's going to be very interesting to see how things move in the years to come."
On using social media from orbit:
Fossum: "We're able to share the experience in almost-real time, and that's just really amazing. You're not limited and we're not limited to the short interviews that we're able to do like this."
On Texas A&M connections:
Garan: "What we have in common is we're both Aggie dads. We both have a great love of that university. To balance the universe out in my family's point of view, my Aggie's identical twin is a Longhorn, so we had to balance that out a little bit."
On what Aggie items he took into space:
Fossum: "I've got my 12th Man towel for when football season starts. I've got some pennants. I've got an extra Aggie ring with me for a very dear friend. There happens to be a little bit of maroon up here."
On Texas A&M getting a shuttle simulator from NASA:
Fossum: "I can't wait to get back up to Aggieland. In fact, a trip to A&M was one of the last things I did before I left Houston to got to Russia to complete the final preparations for launch out of Kazakhstan. I made a quick run up to A&M, and I can't wait to get up there and see it. I'm excited that A&M got the shuttle simulator. That simulator was a big part of our lives, Ron's and mine together, actually. We flew together on STS-124 three years ago, so we spent a lot of time in that space shuttle simulatorpreparing for that mission, and I think it's really exciting because the students and faculty will have their hands on some real hardware that was a critical piece of our nation's space program, for that particular piece of hardware for some 35, 37 years. It's real stuff, and they can actually reprogram it to fly as other vehicles. It'll be a great thing to use to learn with real hands-on."