One year ago, Missouri astronaut Bob Behnken was in space as part of a historic mission. Behnken, who grew up in St. Louis County, piloted the first commercial space launch with astronauts aboard and the first U.S. space mission in nearly a decade.
He is settling in after returning home from the International Space Station. Behnken tells Missourinet he missed his family and many other things while aboard the floating structure.
“On the space station, I missed having the freedom to kind of go outside and see trees, go for a walk or go for a run. I was really happy to have that chance when I got back home,” he says. “After a while, if you are not looking out the window on the International Space Station, all the lockers, your sleep quarters, and every place that you work – it kind of looks the same.”
Behnken says he logged his tenth spacewalk during the mission – an experience he says is unforgettable.
“The chance to go outside in your own little spaceship – even though it’s human powered – as you climb around on the exterior of the space station, that chance to do that and look at the Earth through just your visor is just a super cool experience,” says Behnken.
He says dozens of changes can happen to the human body in zero gravity, including eye sight, and bone and muscle density. Behnken says astronauts are coming back from space much healthier these days.
“Although they do sometimes still have nausea or some dizziness of course when they transition back to the Earth’s gravity, but physically they look like they are in much better shape. You can see the increased muscle mass and they are just much healthier,” says Behnken.
He says the menu has changed quite a bit since he first started at NASA. The food options available help to manage the amount of potassium and protein the astronauts take in – ultimately impacting their overall health.
As for bathing in space, Behnken says it is quite the task in zero gravity.
“What we end up doing is much more of a sponge bath with wet towels and soap,” he says. “You kind of go through a process of scrubbing yourself down with a soapy towel and then scrubbing yourself down again with a clean towel. That is probably the best message, the best takeaway from space – it’s not all glamorous and not all exciting.”
Behnken’s wife, Megan McArthur, is currently in space. She piloted a four-person crew in the same spacecraft as Behnken.
He watched her liftoff to the International Space Station earlier this year.
“It’s pretty exciting to have her sit in the same place in the capsule itself – in the pilot seat on the Dragon capsule,” he says.
McArthur will be in space until about the end of October.
To hear the interview, click below.
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