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: Who are your heroes?
Leroy Chiao: My heroes? Well, you know, the early astronauts, certainly. I remember as a kid following their missions and being so impressed by what they were doing. But my parents too, they were both immigrants, both originally from China. They both individually left the mainland during the communist takeover in 1949, there in the late '40's, early '50's, and they met each other in Taiwan, they worked hard. They weren't from wealthy families. They worked hard and got degrees in school and immigrated to the United States to go to graduate school and they built a life here.
And if you look at what they've done, gosh, I would say I was lucky that there was a large amount of luck to be selected to be an astronaut, and they did all they did through hard work. I mean, I worked hard too, but I look at what they did and it was really an accomplishment
Recorded December 16, 2009