Jack D. Fischer (Colonel, U.S. Air Force) was selected by NASA in July 2009. The Colorado native served as a Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station of the Expedition 51/52. During his 2017 mission, he logged 136 days in space with two spacewalks. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Astronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Colonel Fischer is an Air Force Command pilot with over 3,000 flight hours in more than 45 types of aircraft. (Via nasa.gov)
Announcer: And now from the University of Colorado in Boulder, the College Engineering and Applied Science presents On CUE.
Announcer: Joining us today is NASA astronaut Jack Fisher who grew up in Colorado and visited C.U. to give a talk at Fiske Planetarium. During his time here he also gave a prestigious NASA award to faculty members Shankini Doraisingam who worked closely with him during his mission aboard space station. After his talk at Fiske he was kind enough to sit down with Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences grad student Katya Arquilla. The two of them talked about some of his experiences aboard the International Space Station as well as how he became an astronaut. Enjoy.
Katya Arquilla: You are from Colorado, I moved here not that long ago. What are your favorite must do things in Colorado?
Jack Fischer: You’ve got to hike, watch Broncos. Hike the flatirons. There's lots of good food. It's just a wonderful place. It is and there's so much sun it just recharges your battery all the time right. Just makes ya feel good. I love this place.
Katya Arquilla: Do you miss it when you're not here?
Jack Fischer: Absolutely yeah. And all of my family and my wife's family are from here so we have to come back to visit although that's not necessarily the most stress-less environment. You know when two big families are in the same spot. But yeah that's where we're from. So we love it.
Katya Arquilla: What was that like being up on station while Harvey was hitting?
Jack Fischer: It sucks. It's like watching your kid sick. We're supposed to be the ones that are in danger or whatever not sitting up there safe while our family is in danger so it you feel helpless and hated. I really want to be down there and to protect them not like you can really protect them from mother nature but it was a helpless feeling for sure. I love Texans. Texans are awesome people. I was so impressed with how everybody reacted to Harvey just made me love Texans even more. They're great people.
Katya Arquilla: Were there any lapses, I know JSC, part of JSC got hit by Harvey. Were there any lapses in communication?
Jack Fischer: Yeah so we had breaks in our ability because people got basically stuck at mission control. We had people sleeping on cots in the hallways and everything else and they weren't able to have the normal communication download data. Everything and so it was a pretty big impact. I mean the space station is so incredibly complex that the astronauts don't do that much to keep the actual space station running. It's the thousands of people all over the globe that do. And when a huge center like Johnson is taken down it has a huge impact on our ability to do the ops.
Katya Arquilla: Kind of on that note you were talking we're talking about how much science you did for Bio-Serve. And I know that your background wasn't as like a lab scientist. Was that a big learning curve for you what was that like?
Jack Fischer: It is but a lot of our training is in science so to understand you know Shankini. The gal who got the award came out and I did training with Shankini about cleaning cell cultures and changing mediums and all sorts of things so they can you know as long as they can teach us the basics we can we can learn we can we can be monkeys that you know press a button for a banana and we can make it work. When you're lucky and you get somebody like Peggy Whitson who is already a scientist but also very operationally savvy. Then you get the best of both worlds. But the rest of us try to keep up.
Katya Arquilla: As you as we sort of reach for Mars. Do you see the astronaut corps shifting more towards the scientist type or continuing to have a mix of you know military background or shifting back to sort of you know Mercury Gemini Apollo era where it was mostly the military.
Jack Fischer: I think it will continue in a way it is now. I think there will be a call for like the military test backgrounds because they have a skill set that's useful in stressful situations and we're flying new vehicles and the operational background is important. But you'll see a larger mix and I think you'll see more folks because we do need to have the Watney’s that can grow us some food and we need to have the doctors and we need to have geologists and we need to have a wider variety of expertise. Everybody's going to have to kind of be able to do everything they're still going to have to do the basics but there will be specialties and it will be a wider variety of specialties. I think as we as we look towards exploration and you know actually getting a permanent foothold in the stars.
Katya Arquilla: So were gonna need superhumans that can go.
Jack Fischer: They gotta be versatile but you know nobody's superhuman you just want to have people that can work together well as a team. And that's really important. It's better to have a pretty good person. That's a really good teammate than it is to have a super person who sucks as a teammate because what we can do together is a lot more than what we can do alone.
Katya Arquilla: Sort of on that note. A lot of kids look up to astronauts as like you know their idols and I know I growing up felt that way. How has that sort of impacted your life just your personal life and the way you conduct yourself. You mentioned in your talk that you really haven't changed much. But do you feel that burden of being a role model for so many kids.
Jack Fischer: You do. I'm Catholic so I'm always I always feel guilty about a lot. And I take it very seriously that you know when I go and you know I make a mistake or I post something that's off color or I do something that would tarnish this image of NASA, I take that seriously because I think that it's more than me it's you know this altruistic goal of US exploring and growing as a as a human race. And I don't want to be the reason that would cause any detriment to that goal. So I do what I can I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes but I sure try to take it seriously and to be the best role model I can while still being true to myself.
Katya Arquilla: What was it like being with Peggy Whitson on ISS who is like a giant for astronauts. She's a legend.
Jack Fischer: I call her the space ninja because she like floats around like a ninja and like deafly combats the science and just does so much. I loved it. I was up there with two legends of space. Fyodor Yurchikhin and Peggy Whitson. Fyodor actually has more time than Peggy. Believe it or not and they're awesome. I watched everything they did. Ya know it's not just the big stuff like how are you handling emergencies or what are you doing with the science. It's little stuff. It's like how do you put jelly on your tortilla you know because or how do you go around the corner or whatever because I knew that between the two of them I guarantee they'd figured out the best way to do it. And I just copied them wholesale. Everything that I could. And what was such a cool thing is that as I was there for a while you know I might have an idea of maybe make it better and they completely would listen you know and it just is a testament to their ego and who they are as a person that is good as they are as a person nd as much experience as they have they still were open to good getting better learning more and improving even more.
Katya Arquilla: That's interesting that sounds a lot like how universities work with like one class of older students you know teaching the younger students how to do things and that sort of institutional knowledge often risks being lost because it's not necessarily written down and you gain it by watching those who have come before you do you think as you know mission architectures shift. And I don't know maybe some of the crew who were on ISS won't be flying as frequently or at all. Do you think any that institutional knowledge will be lost?
Jack Fischer: Yes it will but you know we do the best we can and we've gotten better and better at documenting things and improving the processes. I worked really hard when I was a cap com in Mission Control trying to document those things. And everybody has all across the centers so that we're so much better at getting science done now. It's obvious we're going to lose some stuff. We're going to lose the hey dude you open your Cracker Bag make sure you're next to the vent or it's going go everywhere. You're going to lose some stuff you just will. But we're keeping the important stuff the stuff that allows us to do science and operations more efficiently and that's why we're getting better every day. The crew on orbit they you know three of them just came back a couple of days ago. But that crew. You know we broke some records from here up there and then the next crew broke records and you know for like three weeks or a row they broke their own records. And it's not them although they were doing great. It was this team. Just the international team is doing better and better and better and learning. So I think we're getting OK at documenting things so we don't lose it. It's important.
Katya Arquilla: Where you are your next few years going like you mentioned returning to the Air Force in a couple of weeks.
Jack Fischer: Yes I'm going to start training I'm going to go back to the active duty Air Force and Air Force Base Command. My job will be on headquarters staff and in space operations. So hopefully general Raymonds plan was hopefully that my experiences in NASA and in the Air Force can positively impact Space Command. Hopefully I can do that and I'll sure try my best.
Katya Arquilla: Having worked for the military and for NASA big like government agencies are there any distinct differences between the two in terms of like how they deal with the employee changes and paperwork and things like that like the sort of bureaucracy side of things like I in my mind think of those agencies working pretty similarly. Is that true or is that?
Jack Fischer: Pretty similarly. There's definitely differences. And it involves who's working at those places as well in the military you get much more ya know I don't know I guess rule following you know homogenous type of group. And NASA's definitely much more diverse in the way people think. So and that's important in that organization because it really is all about innovation whereas the Air Force needs innovation but it's also operations. And you know every day you know and while NASA also has operations it's kind of the focus is a bit different. Yeah the people are a bit different. And so the organizations themselves are a bit different.
Katya Arquilla: Do you see a difference between astronauts who have military backgrounds and astronauts who are civilian.
Jack Fischer: We do. But I think you see that as we go through training as were in the NASA family you your come more towards the middle and you need to any in any good group or team you have to kind of build on each other and take the best from everyone capitalize on it and find those weaknesses and try to block those off. And so I think we get better as a whole.
Katya Arquilla: What was it like being on stage with only three of you? It seems like a huge amount of space for just three people.
Jack Fischer: It is a huge amount of space and the resources are for a crew of six so there were more resources than we needed. We use that to increase RSA so we would turn all the radios on every panel you know in every module so that we would have S.A as to what everybody was doing where they were if we didn't hear from somebody for awhile you know it float down see what Fyodor is doing. There was one time Peggie was taking out a space suit out from behind a rack and got stuck. And because she was in the one module that didn't have a panel. I didn't know about it for a while. And so we then came up with a theory that the no alone theory of PNM ops and it's like this big you know garage that we have and we can't we wouldn't go behind a rack without each other so we were able to be really efficient because we worked really well together and just got along so great that we would attack everything as a team. And you know like little Paranás I'd take a bite out of it and I grab the tools and she'd set it up and you know I'd do this part or whatever. And so we were able to get a lot done. Despite being such a small crew for so long but it you know it was more resources than were needed for three people that's for sure.
Katya Arquilla: While you were on ISS there was quite a lot of geopolitical tension between Russia and the US. It sounds like that didn't affect your relationship with your crewmates but was there any inkling of any of what was going on on the ground?
Jack Fischer: Oh we talked about it you know when we had discussions and you know id float down some have tea with Fyodor we would be taking pictures he say stuff and you know we'd have those political discussions and we disagreed but I depended on him every second of every day for my life and trusted him implicitly with that. So you know when you're talking about what do you think about you fill in a topic. Compared to I need to know that you're going to save my bacon when I need it. It's so small. The important stuff was the same morality the family that you know it was the same. So we could build our relationship on that and then talk about snuffling adults which was nice.
Katya Arquilla: That's really good to hear. Yeah I think that's good for everyone on earth to hear that that was possible and healthy.
Jack Fischer: You bet.
Katya Arquilla: You mentioned that your Russian is quite good you're like conversationally capable in Russian?
Jack Fischer: I am, you know being able to toast in Russian is important. My Soyuz Russian is very good because that's what I focused on my grammar as it is still needing some work. But you know if I had to give a speech, toast whatever I would spend a lot of time on the press conferences you kinda know that the questions they are going to ask you can prepare things because I wanted to respect the culture that I was in and it was important to them even if you suck at it just the fact that you're trying no matter where you go any country if you just try it means something. So I tried very hard to to be able to honor them and their culture by speaking in Russian and Fyodor always did the same thing.
Katya Arquilla: Do you think the astronauts that you know have that same philosophy?
Jack Fischer: The good ones I know. Peggy definitely did. Yeah she tried you know and I have probably one of the smartest guys in the entire astronaut office. Don Pettit. He's like the real deal Mr. Wizard knows everything he's just brilliant and he's his vocabulary in Russian is pretty good is accents pretty rough. But he tries and it means a lot. And you know that that builds sort of cohesion in a crew that's really important.
Katya Arquilla: I know in the U.S. it's fairly common for people to only speak English and not have a second language. How do you think that impacts our perspective of the rest of the world?
Jack Fischer: Its not good. Because when you learn the language and yes you know learn it really well you have to understand the culture in order to speak it well. To understand those pauses and those how you how you just kind of say the important societal things and the background of why those things are important. So by learning that once at least you are able to open your mind up to other cultures and you go visit you know Germany for a weekend and you can kind of dig in and find out what's important to learn those few key words and you know put a good foot forward. We don't do that well and it's sad. We need to try to at least have one language for kids when they're grown up and just so they can adapt in the world. It's shrinking and we need to be able to interact with other cultures not just ours.
Katya Arquilla: Sort of changing tack. There's a lot of speculation about Europa as a place where life could have originated in our solar system independently of Earth. What do you what are your thoughts on that? Have you thought about that In your career? Like maybe someday we'll go to Europa?
Jack Fischer: Europa is pretty tough. That's a rough environment. There's a whole lot of radiation coming off the big old planet next to it. So I don't know that unless we you know get the the the star trek style force fields we're going to be cruising in on Europa certainly we can do it on manned missions and robotic missions to see.
Katya Arquilla: I guess what do you think of. Do you find that exciting as exciting. It's like crude exploration.
Jack Fischer: Oh absolutely. You know I you know I took this one time lapse of the Milky Way and you know it took me like weeks to get it right and get the exposure right and get everything right. The right time a day and all that and when it finally came out and I looked on the screen and I saw the stars and just thinking about all the planets around all those stars and just billions and billions and there's got to be life out there there's got to be and it is really exciting to think of finding it and integrating with it. And hopefully they're nice if they come visit but yeah I find that fascinating and exciting. It's one of the best reasons to explore.
Katya Arquilla: This is sort of delicate and if you don't want to say you don't have to but you mentioned earlier that your like does that ever conflicts with your job and what the people around you are talking about.
Jack Fischer: No. And I am Catholic and one of the guys that I talk to almost well not as much as my wife but Father Howard my priest is my friend and I talked to him a lot and I had masses. And I had listened to him while I was riding my bike in and honestly I don't gosh it strengthened my faith you know looking out the window and seeing the beauty of Earth and the stars and this just how it all works together. I had I guess I feel that you couldn't have something work so perfectly together without some grander architect. And so you know I don't know what's right and I'm not going to judge anybody who thinks anything different. But for me you know when we talk about the Big Bang and 7 days and well if God created earth and who's saying his day isn’t a billionaire a couple billion years you know it. I don't know. I don't know the answers but I do feel that the solar system the universe as a whole is so elegantly beautiful that I just don't feel it's an accident.
Katya Arquilla: And so even myself looking on my computer at pictures taken from my ISS I felt incredibly humbled right. What is that like to actually look out the window and look at Earth separate from yourself.
Jack Fischer: Oh it's just it blew me away and I got up there and I sucked at taking pictures. Didn't think, I figured everybody had taken pictures what the heck do I need to take pictures for. And I got up there and I was like oh my gosh I got to capture this. I have to learn. And TMI helped me a lot. Fyodor helped me all the time. I would you know I didn't need a lot of sleep for whatever reason up there and so I get up early with Peggy and I go to bed late with Fyodor and when I was down with Fyodor he's a crazy good photographer. Toma is too. And you know they gave me pointers and we did. We took pictures and he taught me how to point an aim and find stuff. And the montage I was telling this story the other day that the big thing that I gave to the engineering school the big picture the background I had never taken a picture that was as pretty as what I was seeing yet and Fyodor was going to run on the treadmill he like. He's like get my [quarters] and stay there for an entire orbit and take thousands of pictures you're going to get a good one and his - their sleeping quarters have a window. And so I went in there and I took thousands pictures I had three cameras I'm just crazy cracking them off. I'm trying all sorts settings I'm doing stuff I'm starting to get it and I got it I got this picture and it was my favorite picture because it was the first time I took a picture that it was as beautiful as what I saw and I showed it to Peggy and she showed it to her aunt who was sick at the time and her aunt had it printed out and by her bed and her aunt actually died while we were on orbit and that was her favorite picture. And so we made it our expedition photo and it's just it's important to share it because even if there's been other pictures, pictures have emotion in them and a story and when you can help tell your story with it it's important. So if I were to do it again I would. I would have been a lot better photographer when I launched.
Katya Arquilla: What was it like, You mentioned that Peggy Whitson’s aunt died while you were orbiting. What was that like for her and like you supporting her while she lost a family member?
Jack Fischer: It was really tough. And she's like Chuck Norris. Like seriously she's a chick Chuck Norris and so she kind of held it in for a because it was right after the new crew got on board. And I'm like Dude what is going on with you. You are not normal. And you know she opened up and it was important. We were just- are such good friends that that you know you need to have that and you need to build that relationship and best in that relationship because it's all you got up there. And so it's important to invest in your team and in the people around you because they can they can stand you up when you're having a hard time.
Katya Arquilla: Did your relationships change between you know training but being on Earth versus being in isolated confined ISIS?
Jack Fischer: Yeah I mean obviously we got closer. We to supposed to be in the same crew together. We didn't know she was going to stay with our crew because Fyodor and I launched alone. And then halfway through our mission like Peggy is going to come back with you. So she was going to stay through that period and that was fantastic. But so I didn't Aleg and Tomáš Peski that they trained with Peggy for the whole time. So they were closer they got to do more stuff with her. I didn't mean we definitely hung out a lot in Star City and we were good buddies. But we got a lot closer because we're you know we're basically kind of like married. You know we lived together we worked together where you know my wife always laughs because Peggy you know knows you know my little idiosyncrasies and you know calls me out on stuff and you know and she's like that chick knows you know I guess she does.
Katya Arquilla: Did you eat most meals together?
Jack Fischer: Always. Yeah. Oh yeah. So when it was just the three of us we ate certainly breakfast and dinner together. Lunch is kind of a crazy thing when there's a full crew. We only do the big dinners like on a Friday and Saturday. Just because you know six or seven people a lot have room on the table every single meal gets the overhead it's a little too much. But it was just three of us we ate together most of the time.
Katya Arquilla: Do you still feel like today I really feel like it's Friday. Do you still have that feeling when you're on the ISS?
Jack Fischer: You do, but we didn't get many weekends because there were three of us for so long. And like SpaceX got up there and it's kind of like a timeline where you gotta get it done and get it back. So we and Peggy and me and Fyodor another reason why we get along so well. I grew up on a construction site. Peggy grew up on a big farm. Fyodor was just workaholic. So we just got along great. Then there wasn't a whole lot of times where we were just farting around because we really liked working because we felt like we were doing something. And so we worked we did something almost every weekend. But you felt. It's like when your mom tells you to clean your room or when you just clean it yourself. You know when you're just cleaning yourself it's like extra credit. It feels a little better and when your mom tells you to do it. It's like do it and you're grumbling. So we felt like it was kind of extra credit. And so it made it fun. And so we definitely had that switch. I actually have I did this at the Air Force Academy and I've always done it as especially when you're living where you're working. You know every time you deploy or whenever there has to be you have to feel comfortable in your home. And so as soon as I got up. It was Bronco pants 30 so I have Bronco pants and they got pretty disgusting because I only had one pair and I spilled a lot. But the after the daily planning conference at night it was Bronco Pants 30. And so we are in our comfy pants. Peggy's Bronco pants were black but you know it's a mind set. So Bronco Pants 30 comes on and you put on your comfy stuff and you float around and weekends were comfy pants and so then you feel more like it's your home and not like you're working 24 hours a day. So it was fun.
Katya Arquilla: Were there times I've heard a couple stories when astronauts have shut off CAPCOM and then made decisions on their own. Were there times that that happened that you can talk about?
Jack Fischer: You know we - some people get the wrong impression that you know the astronauts are in charge. We're not we are the last in the line. It's kind of like a pilot with an aircraft you know you're going to follow your orders until there's like a safety issue and then you're going to voice your opinion. And there was one time one experiment that I felt could injure a crew and I was the commander of the U.S. Segment at the time and I didn't feel that they had done their homework and I said we're not doing that experiment anymore until you can answer my questions. And they did they got they got the data that we needed. But I felt like I couldn't let my crew get hurt because they didn't do their homework. And they got it done and we can do it safely and we continued. But that was the only time, that is in credibly rare. And that is the only time in a long time that I think something like that happened because the station and the program itself are just so good at getting operations stuff that is really rare.
Katya Arquilla: Of the experiments you did which are your favorites?
Jack Fischer: One of them is from CU so Bio Serve put up... Gosh I can't remember can't remember what it stands for. I called it cancer seeking missiles. It was you know this drug that went after antibodies and cancerous lung tissue and left the healthy tissue alone. And so it's kind of like a smart bomb as opposed to a dropping a chemo that's like a nuke in your body. It was like a smart bomb that went after the bad stuff. And that's as a cancer dad you know watching my daughter go through that. It meant the world to me.
Katya Arquilla: Yeah that's so much more than most parents in that situation get to do for their children that's a really cool experience. Being in Colorado there's been a lot of talk about Colorado being a sort of hub for aerospace. What do you think. Why do you think that's happening? First of all and then second of all where do we go from here. What do you think is next for Colorado?
Jack Fischer: It continues to grow. And yeah it is a center you know with all the aerospace companies that you have from colleges down the road CU as a center of excellence for for engineering and just astronautics in general as is the Air Force Academy. You have United Launch Alliance taking care of our lift capabilities you got the Watertown facility at Lockheed Martin ya got Boeing here you got you got Sierra Nevada you've got all these and there's a ton of companies I'm going to forget a bunch of them but probably because everybody wants to live here so they can get the best and brightest because they're like hey look out the window. It's gorgeous. There's the Flatirons come work for us and they can get some smart folks. But that state itself has just been welcoming to the industry and supported it. And you know we've got space command here. We've got NORAD here. Colorado is not playing around man. We are definitely the center of excellence for for space and it's I think only going to continue to grow.
Katya Arquilla: I heard an ad I think it was a joke ad on the radio the other day like talking about people in Colorado telling people who lived here like go home. Hey it's overcrowded. Yeah. Do and you have a lot of roots here. Do your family members have an opinion on that?
Jack Fischer: I don't know that I should say some of the things that have been said because I’ll probably you know we talked about that whole role model thing. Yeah ya know when you have a great secret do you really want to tell everybody else about it? You don't. I mean growing up there was nobody around. There was so many less people and we had that the greatest little secret on the planet. And then everybody got wind and you know I can't blame them but it sure was nice having that secret all to ourselves.
Katya Arquilla: I can imagine. Lets see I guess here's another sort of random one but what's your favorite book and why?
Jack Fischer: Favorite book… man.. You know I really like Shakespeare because I just I think that genius is seeing relationships that other people don't. In whatever it is whether it's a comedian whether it's astrophysicist whether it's a brilliant you know poet an author he could pack more in one sentence than you can into a whole you know rhem of paper. I just loved it. I loved going through it and just seeing his mind work. I just loved it. That being said and you know lately the only thing I've been reading is Soyuz manuals and space station manuals so I got to get back to reading.
Katya Arquilla: When you were studying in school during your undergraduate degree, what did you do sort of keep yourself anchored? I guess a lot of people get really wrapped up in their studies especially in like engineering and you were at the Air Force Academy and it's incredibly intense. What little things did you learn to do to keep yourself grounded?
Jack Fischer: Well the Air Force Academy. You know it it demands a lot of you know you gotta do military you got to do you know sports of some form, I was on the rugby team. And you know I love that because you can you can kind of take your aggression out on the field. It's a great sport for that, I got to work with some of the early satellite programs for undergrad and that was a hoot and I really do. I just love the military. I love everything about it. And so I really clicked with that and I can ground myself in that.
Katya Arquilla: You mentioned rugby. What other sports do you play/have played?
Jack Fischer: Well lately all I have as you know prepping for the mission and not. You know you have to you have to get on a pretty regular routine of working out with different exercises before you go and then afterwards it’s a rehab. Of course I went down. My wife and I hadn't taken a vacation in forever and so we went to one of those all-inclusive resorts in Cancun. And it was the worst thing I ever did to my body because we were eating and drinking nonstop for seven days. And so I don't know that all I'll recover anytime soon from that. But yeah I need to get back to much more regular gym visits.
Katya Arquilla: Which aren't two hours long anymore. Two and a half.
Jack Fischer: They need to be.
Katya Arquilla: Did you run any. I know some astronauts run like marathons and things while they’re on orbit.
Jack Fischer: I'm not a runner, I’m a sprinter or you know you know a hit people. So it is definitely not some of the folks Sonny Williams and Tim and Danbury. There's a lot of people that just run forever. Im not that guy. I would rather get some weights and lift them than run. But I do do it because I have to.
Katya Arquilla: Sort of in that exercise suite on ISIS. Is there some piece of equipment that you feel is missing something you'd really like to have?
Jack Fischer: No that that ARED that resistive exercise device is phenomenal. It's incredible it goes up to 600 pounds it does tons of exercises. It's super smooth and it gives you a fantastic workout. I love that thing. Peggy did too Peggy just loved it. So we get a pretty well-rounded you know exercise protocol and it's great.
Katya Arquilla: I know there's some concern with ARED for Mars missions because it is so heavy. Do you know what they're thinking for what to do instead?
Jack Fischer: We're working on a device and we were testing that when we were up there and the next guys continued. And it's kind of like this fancy rowing machine that allows us to do more exercises in a smaller confined space without that huge ARED requirement. The problem is it doesn't have an isolation system yet. It will need to because you impart loads or frequencies into a structure you're going to do some damage especially something like that that's so repetitive and there's so many cycles. So we need to work on that. But there we have stuff on the drawing board and we have flown some replacements so we're testing it.
Katya Arquilla: How far away do you think it is from being ready to go?
Jack Fischer: It's not bad. They've gotten it to a good point. They need to tweak the software and find a good isolation system but it's not bad.
Katya Arquilla: I also, we were talking earlier about what astronauts will do on the way to Mars and how science will be a bit more limited because no longer on ISIS. I guess can you expand upon that? Like what do you think astronauts will be doing?
Jack Fischer: You know I'm not sure we're going to have to. I hope we cut down the time for one. So they're not just sitting there for six months. There are long term science experiments that we can do. But for the most part those long term things don't take a lot of human interaction. So we have to find a balance because we do have to keep them busy or them go crazy. They don't have the earth to look out the window. It's the vastness of space which is beautiful. But you know without that dramatic you know Bahamas or Sahara or whatever to look at it's not going to be quite as entrancing. Maybe more manual type of activities would be a good a good idea. Haven't spent enough time thinking about it but it is going to be a unique problem that we're going to have to look at.
Katya Arquilla: And what do you think of the psychological impact of not being able to see Earth will be?
Jack Fischer: I don't know. You know it's hard to think about that. I thought been up there was easier than any deployment because I get to talk to my wife. And while you're alone and separated you really do feel pretty close to the Earth and seeing it in a different way so you're just gaining perspective on something you already know. Going to Mars will be different. So I for radiation for psychological for so many reasons. I think we should focus on that engine technology could get us there faster. And you know supplies so that we can we can limit those effects and get good get up there get to work.
Katya Arquilla: In terms of stress levels, how is deployments different from being on ISIS?
Jack Fischer: Well so you're getting shot at. And so that's different and I think that was hard for my wife. Your limited communication. When we left right after 9/11 it was we didn't talk for probably two months and she couldn’t tell anybody I was gone. And then it was one five minute phone call. So it was extremely limited. There really wasn't the Internet-ish back then. Like we know it now. So it was a lot different. This was as opposed to being an entire squadron going in and do a mission you kind of feel like the whole world's watching you. And you know you make mistakes. You're up there for a long time. You're going to make mistakes. You know so psychologically it was different in that regard and you know harder in that regard. I think it was harder for my wife when I was gone because there was so little contact compared to this where even if you know I was calling her almost every day but she could watch stuff. Yeah she's like she knew what I was to do and she could see. You watch NPRM and she'd watch whatever you know. And my kids too. So the family was definitely more connected and that made it easier. But the psychological differences were a bit tougher on the space mission as opposed to deployment. Did they watch her. Yes they did. Yeah. In Mission Control at least at least my wife and youngest are at their daughter's school.
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