STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS (WLOX) - When NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba went out for a spacewalk during a recent trip into space, he held on tight to the railing. That's because Acaba is afraid of heights.
That was one of the highlights of Acaba's talk this week to employees at the Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was Acaba's first public appearance since returning Feb. 28 from the International Space Station, where he served as a flight engineer for Expedition 53/54.
He says during the next year or so, NASA astronauts will be flying on commercial flights, calling it a "big step." According to Acaba, going to space is difficult and will never become routine but in the near future, there will be more opportunities for people to fly there. He says the ultimate goal is to get humans to Mars.
Acaba's last mission, which launched Sept. 13, 2017, marked the beginning of the first long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment, enabling NASA to double the time dedicated to research. They were also able to achieve a record-setting week of research, surpassing more than 100 hours. Some of that research included investigations into the manufacturing of fiber optic filaments in microgravity, improving the accuracy of an implantable glucoses biosensor, and measuring the Sun's energy input to Earth. Acaba also completed one spacewalk to lubricate an end effector and installed new cameras on the station's arm and truss.
Acaba, a California native who taught science at a Florida high school before becoming an astronaut with NASA, has logged a total of 306 days in space on three flights.