The Picayune Item
BAY ST. LOUIS —
Zamka shared stories of his two flights to space and his time at the International Space Station, “My first trip was in November of 2007,” he said. “My second (and last) trip was in February of 2010, the day after the Saints won the Super Bowl.”
Zamka logged more than 692 hours in space during those two missions.
For his first spaceflight as pilot on STS-120 Discovery, the Node 2 element Harmony was delivered to the International Space Station.
“My initial feeling was that I was falling,” Zamka said of how it felt entering into zero gravity.
Moving in space for the first time, “I felt like a balloon in a parade, being guided by my crewmates,” he said.
Zamka said he got a “passing feeling” when he was able to see Earth for the first time from space. “As I passed the window, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful blue ball with a very thin, light blue atmosphere,” he said.
“I could see the outline of continents, mountains topped with snow, it was spectacular,” Zamka said.
Zamka told guests that he saw “16 sun rises and 16 sun sets everyday” while in space. “You can see lightening tracking across the sky,” he said.
On his second spaceflight, he commanded his crew on the STS-130 Endeavor and transported two modules, Tranquility and Cupola to the International Space Station. Tranquility and Cupola were permanently installed on that mission, said Zamka.
“This is a great center,” Zamka said of INFINITY Science Center, “I love it. It’s a place where they (kids) can go to experience space.”
Zamka said his favorite part about making appearances is talking to the kids. “It’s all about being a kid and the wonder of how things work.
“We have to make sure we inspire the next generations,” he said.
Answering a question from the audience about playing golf on Mars, Zamka replied, “Mars has one-third the gravity of Earth, so you’d hit the ball really far.
“Mars doesn’t have a thick atmosphere, so it’d move really fast too,” he said. “You’d have to exercise and keep up your strength to play golf on Mars.”
Up next for NASA with the return of the space shuttle, said Zamka, is the “Commercial Crew Program and the Multipurpose Crew Vehicle.”
In the Commercial Crew Program, companies take on the risk of launch development, said Zamka. This program will consist of low Earth orbit missions.
The Multipurpose Crew Vehicle centers around the plan to eventually get to Mars and to capture an asteroid, said Zamka.