Drew Feustel, PhD ’95, always dreamed that anyone could become an astronaut.
“I always just had the dream that we would all be astronauts,” he said.
The first Queen’s alumnus in space shared his experiences as a NASA astronaut to an audience of more than 100 people in Grant Hall last night.
In May, Feustel embarked on his second mission to space in the space shuttle Endeavour’s final flight.
Feustal earned a doctorate at Queen’s in Geological Sciences, with a specialization in seismology, the study of earthquakes.
As a gift to the school, Feustel brought back a Queen’s banner, which he took with him on his first mission in space.
The banner traveled 5.3 million miles and orbited the earth 197 times.
Feustel said as a Queen’s student, he’d hoped his degree in seismology would open up doors to working as an astronaut.
“I always had the notion in my mind that there might be some opportunities to do some mining on the moon,” he said. “The work that I did [at Queen’s] helped provide some of the foundation for that interest.”
Although Canada has a similar selection process, Feustel applied to the U.S. space program at NASA.
Feustel said it’s a standard application process, requiring credentials and advanced degrees.
“We typically have between 3,000 and 5,000 applicants for roughly 10 slots,” he said. “The reality is that your odds are better becoming an astronaut than they are winning the lottery.”
In May 2009, Feustel worked as a member of the repair crew on the Hubble space telescope. He said his first launching was overwhelming.
“It was about the time that they [counted] down back to 10 that I realized someone was serious about launching us into space,” he said. “It’s something you really never forget.”
Feustel hopes to contribute in some way to human life by being an astronaut.
“It was important for me to get involved to see if I could contribute to our existence in some way,” he said.
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