Leroy Chiao Quotes
Qian Xuesen, the father of the Chinese Space Program, studied in the United States, and he was a protégé of Theodore Von Carmen’s at Cal Tech and helped start the jet propulsion laboratory there, and then he got caught up in the anti-communism wave and was accused of being a spy and was actually deported back to China where he built from nothing, their entire missile and space program. So, in a way, in a very real way, the United States in trying to protect so-called protect our secrets and throwing this guy out of the country, we helped seed and start the Chinese missile program.
You saw Britain back in the early days of sailing ships. They were the sea power, the controlled the seas and they had colonies all over the world and then you can look at history and watch the way that their empire kind of crumbled. I certainly don’t want that to happen to the United States in space technology.
On the mission I brought a flag from China, I brought the stone sculpture from Hong Kong, and I brought a scroll from Taiwan. And what I wanted to do is, because as I was going up and I am this Chinese-American, I wanted to represent Chinese people from the major population centers around the world where there are a lot of Chinese people. And so, I wanted to bring something from each of those places and so it really wasn’t a political thing and I hope people saw it that way. I was born here, I was raised in the U.S., and I’m an American first, but also very proud of my heritage.
If you increase the number of rockets you build and you buy, then it’s the scale of the economy, the price is going to come down. It may not come down in order of magnitude, but if several commercial ventures start being successful and there becomes a bigger market for these rockets, the price will naturally come down a bit. That’s why I think Excalibur Almaz, we’re a little bit unique in that we don’t look at our so-called competition with disdain, we want them to succeed and it needs to have more than one player. Even if we are successful, we couldn’t handle the entire market ourselves.
I was born in the United States, I’m proud to be an American, I’m an American first. But obviously, I’m a Chinese-American. And growing up, my family, my parents, and I think rightly so didn’t put us in Chinatown, didn’t put us with our other ethnic group, but put us in mainstream America. They’re thinking was that will help us assimilate into the mainstream and be a part of it. And it did. It certainly gave me tolerance of other people, of other races, of other ethnicities and I think that’s helped make me a better person.
The training kicked in and we quickly went through our emergency procedures, I took manual control and I got the spacecraft under control and stopped about 50 meters from the space station. So, the net effect of the failure was that we were actually turning and speeding up towards the space station when we should have been slowing down, so it was quite a dangerous situation. But we got manual control, performed the first manual docking to the station at night. The training pays off. It was just automatic. We had our books out already, we went right to the right procedures and executed them.
The Russians have been flying long duration crews since the early ’70’s. And in the early days, they’ve ended at least two missions early because of conflicts within the crew. So, they learned early on the importance of studying this and making sure you put the right crew together. Since we began our work together on the International Space station with the Russians in the early 2000’s, NASA has started to learn the importance of this kind of work. And so, I think it’s important work and we are not fully onboard and recognize it as important.
We have self-assessment tools, computer-based tools to see how we are performing mentally in outer space and there’s some also very interesting technology and work that’s being funded by NRSBI to look at facial recognition to look at your patterns to see if you’re experiencing stress or fatigue. It’s a kind of thing that I think will gain acceptance with gradually. But it probably has more to immediate application in things like homeland security, and looking at facial recognition of people going through airports and things like that to see who’s under stress.