Astronaut Leroy Chiao is a veteran of four space missions, recently acting as Commander of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station. He has logged over 229 days in space - over 36 hours of which were spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA, or spacewalks). He served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee.
Dr. Chiao left NASA in 2005 and is involved in entrepreneurial business ventures and works in the US, China, Japan and Russia. He is a director of Excalibur Almaz, a private manned spaceflight company. In addition, he is a director of InNexus, a biotechnology/pharmaceutical development company. Active as a consultant and public speaker, he also serves as the Chairman of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute User Panel, which is attached to the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Chiao is a director of Challenger Center and of the Committee of 100. He is also an advisor and spokesman for the Heinlein Prize Trust.
Question: If you could go to dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Leroy Chiao: Anyone living or alive, who would I go with? You know, I would love to go to dinner with Sergei Korolyov who is the father of Soviet Space program. I would also love to go to dinner with someone who was recent passed, just a month ago, his name was Qian Xuesen, and he was the father of the Chinese Space Program. And Korolyov because he started the whole thing. You know, he was acknowledged as the guy who made the first practical rocket to go into space; he's the one who launched Euricka Garen into space and Qian because he has an interesting history. He was actually in the United States, he studied in the United States at MIT and Cal Tech, and he was a protégé of Theodore Von Carmen's at Cal Tech and helped start the jet propulsion laboratory there, and then he got caught up in the anti-communism wave and was accused of being a spy and was actually deported back to China where he built from nothing, their entire missile and space program.
So, in a way, in a very real way, the United States in trying to protect so-called protect our secrets and throwing this guy out of the country, we helped seed and start the Chinese missile program. Both of those guys would be very interesting to meet and talk to.
Recorded on December 16, 2009