Astronaut Steve Swanson Has Landed At FAU

Retired NASA astronaut and alumnus visited FAU to speak about his missions to the great unknown.

Astronaut+Steven+R.+Swanson+pose+for+a+photo+with+students+from+different+high+schools.+Mohammed+F+Emran+%7C+Asst.+Creative+Director

Astronaut Steven R. Swanson pose for a photo with students from different high schools. Mohammed F Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Andrew Fraieli, Science Editor

Living in space isn’t too different from college life.

“We each had one spoon to use for six months. We took special care of them because we’d be in trouble if we lost it,” joked recently retired NASA Commander Steven Swanson, referring to his time in the International Space Station (ISS).

About 250 people attend American Astronaut Steven R. Swanson’s presentation on his journey to and from the International Space Station on Oct. 30. Mohammed F Emran | Asst. Creative Director
About 250 people attend American Astronaut Steven R. Swanson’s presentation on his journey to and from the International Space Station on Oct. 30. Mohammed F Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Swanson visited Florida Atlantic’s Student Union at the Grand Palm Room on Oct. 30 to talk about his experiences in space. He graduated with a master of applied science in computer systems back in 1986 at FAU, has flown two space shuttles and lived on the ISS for six months since starting his 28-year long career with NASA.

A year after he graduated from FAU, he got a call back from an application to NASA sent in his last semester. They first hired him as a flight engineer, and a year later asked him to be an astronaut. “The job sounded like a fun thing to do,” Swanson said. “It would be an adventure.”

The child-like wonder of experiencing something new and out of this world was not lost on Swanson. Of all the best parts of being an astronaut, he found the simplest, the greatest: “Going into space!” But not just that, “Floating is fun, best part.”

During his talk to a hall full of high school and middle school kids, he spoke about the rumbling of engines during liftoff, how sriracha sauce can make even dehydrated food taste good and the twelve hour process of putting on a spacesuit.

Astronaut Steven R. Swanson talks about what he did on the International Space Station. He is the first person to take a selfie on the ISS. Mohammed F Emran | Asst. Creative Director
Astronaut Steven R. Swanson talks about what he did on the International Space Station. He is the first person to take a selfie on the ISS. Mohammed F Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Behind him played videos of the process from launch to space to crash to Earth recorded on his GoPro that he “kind of sneaked on.”

After his presentation, he answered questions from dozens of raised hands, some being about his weakest point in training — floating without hurting yourself — and others about sleeping since day and night occur every 90 minutes at their orbital speed. However, it didn’t affect him much because “most of where we worked didn’t have windows.”

The apparent highlight of the day, by the sounds of cheers and laughter, of his question-answering was not his answers, but the videos of scientists dancing in zero gravity and seeing how many flips in a row they could do behind Swanson. Turning to see why the suddens cheers, he smiled.

Having been recruited right after getting his master’s degree, he has some final advice to other engineering majors that may want to eventually touch the stars: “Work on your studies, it helps. The better you do, the more opportunities, find what you like to do and excel at it.”

Andrew Fraieli is the science editor of the University Press. If you would like to contact him regarding this or other articles, email him at [email protected]