Down to Earth – Out of the Bubble

[ Music ]>>My first flight
was two weeks, and a lot had to get done. I distinctly remember
the point when I stopped and thought, “I did it. I’m here. My goal was
to be an astronaut, and now I’m in space.” I remember seeing
the beauty of Earth, but I don’t remember any
more profound thoughts about it at that point. I think it was when I got
into my long-duration flight and spent a little more time
that I really just started to take it in a little bit more. [ Music ] The entire experience is
actually very surreal. First, you’re launched on a
rocket and you’re pulling Gs as you’re going out
of the atmosphere. You’re looking at the
Earth for the first time. You’re floating. You’re, everything is different,
and it just is all just such a different experience that
it almost doesn’t seem real. In fact, when I did my Space
Shuttle flight for two weeks in 2008, when I got back, you could have convinced
me I never went, probably, if there weren’t pictures. This experience is so
unusual and so different than anything you’ve ever done
in your life that it’s hard to grasp it all, and I
was very excited, then, when I got assigned to a long
duration, because I thought that it’s going to
burn in my memory and it was the same thing. I came back and my
memories were there, but it almost didn’t seem real. [ Music ] Looking at the Earth
for the first time, you just notice the
vibrancy of it. It’s so bright. Pictures don’t do it justice. It’s equivalent to
me backpacking out in the mountains, where
you’re trekking along, and then you come to a clearing and you’re overlooking some
valley and the sun is setting and it is, you’re, like, how
could this get any prettier? And you take a picture, and
then you go back and look at the pictures later, and you
never had that feeling again. It never brings about
the feeling that it did. And same with watching a
beautiful sunset or sunrise. I have not seen a picture
that gives me the same feeling that I felt when I
looked with my own eyes. [ Music ] It started to make me understand
that everything is connected. What is happening in the ocean over here can affect what is
happening on land over here. It’s just all one being,
and it’s all interconnected, and so I think we tend
to live in our bubble of our world that’s here,
and it’s hard to think about other people on the
other side of the world and be empathetic
toward them, really, because you don’t know them and
you don’t know their situations. And I’ve found seeing Earth
really changing that perspective for me and listening to a news
story in the morning and flying over that particular part of
the world in the afternoon, it really affected me,
and then just realizing, I mean, that’s home. Often, we think,
“Home,” and, you know, right now home is
Houston, Texas, and childhood home is Minnesota. But home is Earth. [ Music ]

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