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Scott Parazynski visited Prague

Former astronaut accepted invitation of CSO and spoke about his space experience

On Monday, August 24, 2015 the Czech public had an opportunity to attend two lectures a former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski who came to share his life experiences at the Academy of Sciences. The invitation to the Czech Republic managed the Czech Space Office with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Prague.

Scott Parazynski is a physician and astronaut who visited the orbit five times. He spent more than 57 days  there and stepped into outer space seven times.

The first of his lectures was targeted to the general public and children. Scott shared with the audience his journey to involvement in space. He choose the profession definitively in 1992, when he had been selected by NASA for flight specialists training. He also revealed some of the problems he had to face during stays in the orbit. To listeners the most interesting experience was repairing of a solar panel on the International Space Station during the STS-120 mission in 2007. Everybody in the auditorium couldwatch by Scott's eyes stapling of cracks on the panel thanks to recording of the camera, he had placed on the spacesuit helmet  during the whole operation.

Scott also talked about the funny moments he experienced as an astronaut. One of the most famous happened because of his height problem that eliminated him of a planned long-term stay on the Mir station. "During the STS-86 mission a part of the crew was given nicknames - Too Tall Parazynski, Just Right Tall Wolf and Too Short Lawrence," Scott entertained the audience when he showed a photograph that clearly justified these pseudonyms.

Although the work in the outer space is very demanding, Scott admited that nothing had compared to climibing Mt. Everest, both physically and mentally. In the discussion that followed the lecture he compared to conquer the highest mountain to a trip into space: "It was the greatest physical and mental load that I've carried in my live. Demands of space travel lies in the very long preparation that precedes it. After te blast off you just do your work in conditions which you have been prepared and trained for. If everything goes according to plan, you do not have to deal with survival situations. When you climb Mt. Everest, it is different. Even breathing is difficult and every step exhausts you. However, as well as in a space mission depends on teamwork and ability to cope with every possible situation."

In the second lecture, which was led in English only, Scott descibed in detail every mission he went through. Listeners got an extra opportunity to get to know members of crews, see pictures of the shuttles and ISS station taken during missions and learn interesting technical details of stays in the orbit.

The lecture attracted many people. Words of one of organizers Michal Václavík from CSO demostrate the fact: "We managed to fill the hall of 100 seats in both lectures. The audience did not come just to listen, but in discussions people asked many interesting questions. The more inetersting the discussion got since the children started to ask. They have the ability to ask responds to what wouldn't occurred to an adult. Intensive interaction between Scott and the audience was the greatest satisfaction for us as organizers and pleased the lecturer himself."