Written by Eesha Kabra.
Being an astronaut is truly the most fascinating career choice and almost everyone wants to pursue it at some point in life.
Most of us want to live the experience and float freely in space and that is why we’re attracted to it. But that is all on the surface. There is so much more to it than just floating around and doing backflips easily.
Not many people end up pursuing this career and that is completely okay as it is difficult and requires extreme perseverance.
You need the best of everything to make it work and get selected. But who can say any different about other careers? Every career requires perseverance, determination, and work. Astronauts just need a little more of those things.
Life aboard the international space station is a lot of fun but astronauts also have to struggle to train themselves mentally and physically to make sure they are prepared for (quite literally) anything.
While we may not be able to experience the physical aspects of the training and mission experience we can surely learn a lot from their mindsets apart from their way of tackling situations calmly.
1. Ambition and Will Power
“I know the sky’s not the limit, because there are footprints on the Moon- and I made some of them!” ~ Buzz Aldrin
If you want to be whatever you want to be – ambition is the first thing you need. You cannot achieve in life without the thirst for accomplishing your goals. The goal could be as simple as leading a peaceful and comfortable life or as zealous as to become an astronaut.
What helps you hold on to the ambition is your will power and astronauts certainly have a lot of that considering the things they go through to prepare themselves.
Astronaut applicants need to strive hard to even make it through to the training. It is not impossible of course but it requires a strong ambition to get selected which is the same for becoming the CEO of a successful company or becoming a doctor etc.
If you have the intention and will power you have already taken the first step!
2. Dedication Perseverance and Resilience
No matter what you take up in life you need to be dedicated to it, give your all to the job. When you are passionate about the job and as dedicated as an astronaut is to his tasks, nothing can stop you from giving the best results!
Astronauts have tight schedules and stringent routines they need to follow. For example, when astronauts need to repair damaged parts of the I.S.S., they may have to stay outside in space and work continuously for 6-7 hours because they have to perform their tasks very slowly or they will start spinning uncontrollably.
If they weren’t dedicated and gave up thinking that it’s too hard for them to cope we wouldn’t have reached the frontiers we have today.
In your life, you may face many difficulties too, like starting your own company for example. But if you are resilient and dedicated you emerge successful eventually.
Giving up is easy but unrewarding. Hard work is the key to success, as many astronauts have said before too.
Teamwork is a key soft skill an aspiring astronaut needs to possess and for a good reason too. Transporting astronauts to the international space station takes a lot of effort and money, this means that most astronauts need to stay up there for 5-6 months at a stretch.
They need to stay with the same crew members in a restricted environment and if you don’t mix well with others it’s going to be a problem for you.
Life on the I.S.S. needs work from all members on board and the on-ground teams. Even if we consider just the launch of a new batch of astronauts to space there is a lot of teamwork needed.
The crew always has a minimum of 2 members on the shuttle because in case of any emergency a pair or a group can handle things faster and help out the others.
Both, the ground control team and the on station team need to monitor the functioning and progress of the rocket. The crew on the station also needs to work together for safe docking and receiving.
Similarly to win a football game or to conduct a search expedition here on earth you need to have a reliable team. You need to work well with your teammates, pitching in suggestions and helping each other with strategies.
There are many benefits of having a well functioning team such as having a wider pool of ideas and a better working plan because of discussion and sometimes opposition. Everyone has to do teamwork in some project or the other!
Adjustment to your crew is very important. Aboard the I.S.S. there are astronauts from many different cultures and to be able to work well as a team you need to know them well. Astronauts have to be well-coordinated to complete their tasks.
They also need to adjust quickly to their new environment which is tricky. It isn’t easy to adapt to the sudden loss of gravity, it makes astronauts sick for 2-3 days which you could compare to travel or flight sickness in away.
This is an essential skill for us to learn too. No matter where we go today we get to see vibrant cultures coexisting.
Just like that, when you go abroad for studies or your job you have to adjust to a new lifestyle and new people. In a fast-moving world, the key to survival is an adjustment to the situation, people and lifestyle.
It is even more relevant in the lockdown and quarantine period because we have to live with the same people, in the same house, and even with our own families face frustration and feel sad that we cannot meet our friends. So there is no better time to learn adjustment than now!
5. How To Survive Isolation And Cope With Boredom
Astronauts also need to go through self-isolation periods as part of their mental training. To face the loneliness they could feel in space they are placed in confined spaces (sometimes for weeks) to get a feel of what they might face. They end up developing coping mechanisms that help them during their missions.
Astronauts take up hobbies and activities to get rid of boredom and they get time off from their busy schedule so that their life doesn’t become stressful and monotonous in space.
A popular pastime is looking out of the windows, from which they can see striking sunrises and sunsets every 45 minutes. They also do photography and the musicians may also bring aboard small instruments!
The lesson here is that, just like us, astronauts also face boredom and solitude, most of which we are experiencing during the quarantine. They too miss their families and friends, like some of us who spend time alone or away from our families, confined to ourselves.
Just like them, you can also develop your coping method – take up a new hobby, read lots of books, learn a language or start writing a novel or any such activity which you find engaging to keep yourself busy. Contact old friends and relatives, keep in close touch.
Do tasks that you may have put off for a tomorrow that didn’t come. Basically, like former NASA astronaut, Terry Virts said – “A busy crew is a happy crew—and a bored crew is a disaster.”
Keep your spirits high up, just like astronauts floating in space!!
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Eesha Kabra is a contributor at The Strong Traveller. She loves travelling, nature photography, reading and music. A curious soul, she enjoys exploring and learning new things. Currently a science student in class 12th, she aspires to become a researcher. She believes in living life to the fullest and enjoying the small things in life.