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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cinderella Story

As I write this, my little sister is in the midst of her wedding day, looking like a real-life Cinderella, so beautiful and happy in her gorgeous gown. I sent over a wedding toast video and have heard that "there wasn't a pair of dry-eyes in the place." I was crying too, I'm so disappointed to be missing her big day, it's certainly the worst part about being on this mission. But all-in-all, I'm still so thankful to be here, HI-SEAS is the Mars edition of a Cinderella story for me.

Raising my glass (of non-alcoholic cooking wine) in a wedding toast for my little sister Kayla and brother-in-love Lee Eiland on their big day! Congratulations!!!

It is well-known that astronaut selection is an extremely competitive process. So this HI-SEAS simulated mission may be the closest I ever get to being a real astronaut. In 2013 NASA astronaut selection, there were over 6100 applicants and only eight candidates were selected. Then for the 0.1% selected from this elite applicant pool, there are still competitive layers for these candidates to filter through before donning a spacesuit and living the dream of a spacewalk.

One of the NASA researchers told us a story during training week that demonstrated the competitive nature of astronaut work-life. He said that they received negative feedback about one of their behavioral questionnaires, and it turned out that once they investigated the issue a bit further, it really had nothing to do with the primary content of the questionnaire. It was because one of the first questions asked whether or not crewmembers had been part of EVAs (extravehicular activities) recently. The fact that some of these astronauts were not selected to go on EVA tasks is what made the question unpalatable!

Here on simulated Mars, we have more-or-less a rotating schedule for the geology task EVAs. Even though we all love going on these long EVAs to explore the volcanic terrain, it has not been a point of contention. We might miss out on a “cool” task from time-to-time, but we all have had multiple opportunities to don the spacesuits and play pretend astronaut!

Thus far, I have only worn the bright yellow-green hazmat suits (aka "janky" spacesuits). Yesterday, however, I had the pleasure of suiting up in our mock spacesuit that we are testing for researchers at University of Maryland.  Check me out!!  I will gladly volunteer to be a space suit model if anyone is interested ;) Actually, the suit did fit perfectly as if it were made for me!  I was as happy as Cinderella putting on her lost slipper, and the crew was delighted that it didn’t take the usual amount of effort for sealing someone inside!

Recent EVA to a nearby cave-like lava tube that could be an emergency shelter


  1. Congrats on your first EVA! I wish you many more to come!

  2. Lovely story. I love your article which shows that how much you love your sister. You know dear, today I am also looking a wedding venue for my sister wedding. Actually, she wants to get married in Chicago and I have no idea about Chicago Wedding Venues. Can you tell me some venues?