NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who recently became the first crew to fly in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, have settled into their new temporary home on board the International Space Station. During an interview with reporters on Monday (June 8), the astronauts spoke about their first week of activities in orbit and what it was like to see Earth from space amid protests for racial justice around the world.
Astronauts Hurley and Behnken launched to the space station during SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 mission on May 30. During an in-flight interview with ABC News and NBC News on Monday, Behnken reflected on how cooperation and understanding make international spaceflight possible.
He also spoke about the psychological impact of seeing Earth from space, a phenomenon known as the overview effect. During spaceflight, a number of astronauts have reported experiencing the overview effect, describing it as a cognitive shift in awareness when seeing our planet from a cosmic perspective.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (foreground) and Bob Behnken, who flew to the International Space Station for SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission, brief mission controllers about their experience in SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon spacecraft, on June 1, 2020. (Image credit: NASA)
“From an astronaut’s perspective, I think there is a long history of discussing the overview effect and the recognition that our planet is really one that we share and need to understand and work together to both take care of and to fully utilize, and make space for everyone,” Behnken said in the video.
The Demo-2 astronauts also said that they hope they can be an example for others and inspire young children to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, which Hurley said often requires teams working together to solve complex issues.
“The message for us is one of cooperation and understanding,” Behnken said in the video. “As much as the International Space Station has provided a place for many countries to cooperate and integrate and successfully accomplish science — accomplish the mission of human spaceflight,” he said, adding that success can come from understanding and cooperation.
Since they arrived at the space station on May 31, Hurley and Behnken have been very busy. The crew has been fixing the treadmill on the orbiting lab and worked on transferring cargo to and from the H-II Transfer Vehicle 9 (HTV-9), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) uncrewed cargo resupply spacecraft that delivered supplies to the space station on May 25.
Hurley and Behnken are expected to return to Earth in August. Over the next couple of months, the astronauts plan to contribute to various science initiatives, and Behnken is also preparing to perform at least two spacewalks, on June 26 and July 1, with space station commander Chris Cassidy.
A dinosaur toy named Tremor, chosen by the crew’s children to fly along on the Demo-2 mission also made an appearance in the live interview from the space station. The blue-and-pink sequin toy flew with Behnken and Hurley on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as a “zero-g indicator.”
“I think both of our sons were just super excited to see the toy that they had selected to go on the mission with us,” Hurley said in the video. “It’s been pretty exciting for them just to see us fly in space.”
The crew also shared their experience flying on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the first time, and what they have learned so far during this historic Demo-2 mission.