The intention is that the American-born Mindy Howard (54) will write history in 2023: after Wubbo Ockels and André Kuipers, she will be the first Dutch woman to go into space.
Howard hopes to make a commercial space flight as an astronaut trainer. It should then be possible for ordinary people to enter space. A dream Howard has been waiting for all her life.
That dream comes closer as NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken tonight, after a two-month stay at the ISS, safely have returned to Earth. The SpaceX Dragon capsule ended up in the water off the coast of Pensacola in Florida.
The successful completion of Elon Musk’s commercial mission heralds a new era for the US space agency NASA. From now on it will use this type of transport just above the earth, from commercial parties such as SpaceX. And it is good news for the ‘ordinary people’ who will soon want to go to space.
A quarter of a million into space
This should therefore become possible in 2023. Tickets will soon cost a quarter of a million euros. Mindy will guide these people to their dream trip and will accompany you as a trainer and coach.
She followed all kinds of expensive astronaut training in America, where she was left lying around in centrifuges. Then she founded her own company: Inner Space Training. She trains future astronauts and prepares them psychologically for their space journey.
It was 45 years ago that astronauts last landed in the sea. Howard: “SpaceX is the first commercial company to bring people to space. It is a huge boost that this mission has gone so well.”
The landing was not without risks, Howard explains. “The spaceship is getting very hot. The capsule could explode if the friction is wrong or the angle of the drop is not right. Unmanned spaceships had already been practiced, but now it was for the first time. I bit nails for minutes.”
Delay due to corona
Howard is still hopeful that the first commercial flights will be launched in a few years. It is still unclear who will organize the trip. According to the Zoetermeer, there are two contenders: Virigin Galactic of Blue Origin, from Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
“But Corona has thrown a spanner in the works. Much of this year work has been halted. So I expect that there will be some delay.”
Whether the journey for ordinary people is comparable to the journey taken by NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken? Yes and no. “Commercial flights from Virigin and Blue Origin will take about 90 minutes. These two astronauts have been away for two months and have spent weeks in the ISS space station. They have been trained for years and have had all kinds of training. Also training to repair and investigate run the space station. “
But the launch and the journey are similar. “I don’t know if the space tourists will go 28,000 km per hour. But in terms of g-forces, the commercial flights are comparable to the flights of the NASA astronauts. In fact, the forces may be even higher: 6g. And the weightlessness will also give the same feeling. “
Howerd continues, “Ordinary people also need to learn how to deal with g-forces and do centrifuge exercises. I will teach them breathing techniques and provide psychological support.”
Howard will never forget her first weightlessness. “It was a great experience. You just don’t know what happens to you.”