Status Report

Astronaut Nicole Stott’s Blog: The Bugz — It Takes All Kinds

By SpaceRef Editor
August 31, 2009
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Astronaut Nicole Stott’s Blog: The Bugz — It Takes All Kinds

The NASA Astronaut Class of 2000 — the 18th class of NASA astronauts. Our class name is “the Bugz” (the name has several origins: the class before you gets to name you / year 2000 and the millennium bug / bugs actually fly / it’s better than maggots….)

We all received the phone call on July 20, 2000 – the anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. This year we’ll celebrate two important anniversaries – 9 years since the Bugz became astronauts and 40 years since Neil and Buzz took those first historic steps on the moon.

“AsCan” (short for Astronaut Candidate) is what you’re called when you’re first selected to the Astronaut Office and while you’re going through the initial training. Then one day, a year or so after you’re selected and when you’ve successfully completed the initial training, you earn the title Astronaut – which is way cool because it’s even before you actually fly in space. We have a great class that is made up of really interesting people from all different backgrounds – military test pilots and flight engineers, submariner, oceanographer, geophysicist, medical doctor, and aerospace engineers.

The picture above was taken at the same time as our official class photo – this is the fun shot (that’s me in the front row, second from the left). It represents the beginning of an amazing adventure for the Bugz. When I look at this picture, it always brings a smile to my face because the look on everyone’s face is very telling of each and every personality. It has been such a pleasure getting to know all of these people.

I’m convinced that it’s more than just your work and educational background that helps make you a good astronaut candidate (I’m thankful to the selection committee for recognizing this too). This is especially evident when you find out that aside from the diverse work backgrounds of all these people, it’s even more interesting to learn about the diverse and fun interests everyone has outside of work. Who would have known that great astronauts are also made up of an almost professional water skier, excellent dancers (one even does a good river dance), comedians, carpenters, private pilots and flight instructors, baseball coaches, Sunday school teachers, artists, big game hunter, marathon runners, seamstress, NASCAR fans, sailors, auto mechanics, gardeners, cooks, mountain climbers, musicians, golfers, photographers, astronomers…..

So it seems it really does take all kinds. One of the main things that is reinforced through all of our AsCan training, and then continues through our mission specific training, is the importance of teamwork. Your crew is your team. Everyone has particular strengths and weaknesses, and you have to learn to take advantage of these in order to successfully complete your mission. Many times the interests that we have and the skills we’ve developed outside of work are the things that not only make us the people that we are, but also help us add the most value to our team.

SpaceRef staff editor.