Q&A: NASA astronaut, Colorado native Jack Fischer talks to Denver7 from aboard ISS

Posted at 1:01 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 16:30:40-04

DENVER – NASA astronaut and Colorado native Jack Fischer is on his first expedition into space and he’s already been on two space walks.

Fischer, an alumnus of Centaurus High School in Lafayette and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, has been on the space station since April.

Fischer spoke to Denver7 from aboard the ISS this week. Below is a transcript of the interview, edited for brevity and clarity.

Tell us about life on the space station. Any particular challenges in your daily life?

It's mostly about keeping track of everything, if you don't tie it down with some sort of tether or some sort of velcro, the darn thing will float away. So your tools, your clothes, your food, pretty much everything. It’s awesome because you get to see it floating. And that's just cool. But it's a little bit frustrating sometimes, when you go, "Where the heck did my pen go…again?”

It looks like it might be a tad claustrophobic. Do you have time to get away from the rest of the crew?

Yeah, we do. At night, after all the work is done, we’ll have a little bit of time to maybe look out the window, take some pictures, call home, email, do things like that. So you do have a little bit of private time, which is nice.

As far as the station itself, inside the station is pretty large, about the size of a five-bedroom house, and with only five of us up here (after Friday, there’s only going to be three of us for two months) it’s a lot of room, so you don't get claustrophobic. Going up and down on the Soyuz, that’s a pretty tight fit but it doesn’t last that long, so it’s not too bad.

On your recent space walk you had a big smile on your face. That must have been quite the experience.

I have a big smile on my face most of the time because I’m floating and it's awesome.

The space walk is just, you know, when you look out the window and you see this beautiful landscape, then you walk outside. And when you walk outside you're more a part of it, you can feel it, you can smell it, it’s almost like you can taste it.

Going from the ground to orbit is a mind-blowing perspective change. Being able to see that thin blue line that holds all life on earth and how beautiful it is and fragile it is and then to get outside in it is almost an order of magnitude cooler and you become so much more a part of it, looking up at the stars with no atmosphere in the way, no light pollution in the way, or down at this amazing planet we call home. It was absolutely the coolest work experience I've ever had.

You have beautiful pictures of Earth on your Facebook and Twitter pages. You have a great view up there.

Oh, absolutely. Peggy [Whitson] and I were taking pictures before our space walk of one of the components we were going to work on, and we were down in the Russian segment looking out one of the modules and there was this massive storm. Looking at this storm, there’s lightning in the clouds, between the clouds, over the clouds. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. It was beautiful. I wish we could take pictures of it. The cameras aren’t quite as good as our eyes yet.

Tell us about your favorite food aboard the ISS.

Well that’s easy, it’s coffee balls, because I need my coffee. I’m a military guy, so being deployed, we’ll just eat what we’re given, and pretty much if you give me some hot sauce, I’ll make anything taste good. But the thing that I absolutely need is my coffee balls because caffeine in the morning. They're just delicious and fun.

As far as the food though, it's fun to be a little creative and put some of the dishes together, and actually, our ground team does a fantastic variety so you don’t get bored. It's kinda fun to mix some things together and make new items. Last night, I made a salmorito, which is like a burrito with salmon, but not really. And it was still delicious.

Down here on Earth, the headlines are full of talk of the Russia investigation. Up there in space, you have a great example of cooperation between the two countries.

Absolutely. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until I die: The International Space Station is the best example of international cooperation in the history of humanity. We had 15 counties come together and make this incredible floating laboratory. We work together every day, training crews, and getting them ready to come up here and work as one team.

My Soyuz commander and I had a patch based on the Apollo Soyuz patch. We then added the words "odna komanda," which is “one team” because we are. We’re one team working together to explore the universe. And if we are ever truly going to explore and help humanity take that next evolutionary step, we need to work together as one team and we do it here every day.

Any favorite experiments you’re doing on the ISS?

Man, it’s hard to nail down a favorite. There’s so many cool things going on. Over a six-month period, we're doing almost 300 experiments aboard the space station, ranging in things that will help us make new drugs, we’re growing proteins crystals, investigating viruses, genes, bones, all sorts of physiology.

All day, every day is a menagerie of interesting work and exciting investigations. We’re all excited to be a part of this and whatever great discoveries come from this space station.

Before signing off, Fischer took the opportunity to show off his Denver Broncos pajamas.

“Hey, I just had to show you my pajamas. I didn’t wear them, but you might recognize the colors. And they also double in case I get lost or something, Peggy and Thomas [Pesquet] can find me when I’m wearing these,” he said.