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: What's your advice for an aspiring astronaut?
Leroy Chiao: Well, my advice is to really follow your passion. I mean, study something that interests you, but also qualifies you to apply. As I said, NASA recruits from a wide variety of backgrounds, you have to have a Bachelor's degree, at least in science or engineering, but pick the field that you like. I know people who have applied to be an astronaut who ask me, well should I do this or should I do that. And I said, you know, it doesn't matter. The basic requirements are you have to be in good health, and you have to have a good heart, I mean in a technical way, not to be a kind person, well that helps. But, study something that you like and do well in it.
Recorded on December 16, 2009
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