It is exciting to announce that my mentor, European Space Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano, has been chosen to command the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 20 mission, with astronauts Serena Aunon and Norishige Kanai and engineer David Coan joining him!
Beginning July 20, Luca will spend two weeks under 62 feet of ocean water to simulate Mars, asteroid and moon exploration. He is the first European commander for this type of expedition. I am so excited for Luca to hold this position and equally excited to be able to help share his experiences with all of you.
Although this mission is underwater and not in space, it is encouraging. When NASA does simulations like these, it represents our thirst for deep space exploration. NASA will need all the support it can get in order to reach Mars someday, and I am honored to be able to support NASA through my own outreach program and also encourage kids to study hard and pursue STEM careers.
It’s also incredible to have friends and mentors who are actually doing the work today that will get us to Mars. It is through working together and helping get the message out that we will make Mars a reality.
I know that becoming an astronaut is a dream that will be almost impossible to achieve, with only 560 people holding the title of astronaut in the past 50 years — that’s 560 people out of 7.1 billion people in the world. The odds are not good, but I believe strongly in the importance of human space exploration and deep space exploration. And whether I make it or not — well, it’s more important to me that we as a nation make it.
Follow the Neemo 20 journey on my Twitter, blog and with the hashtag #Neemo20 July 7 through August 8. Help me spread the excitement of this voyage under the sea! Please continue to share the excitement and belief you have in human space exploration. Together we will make it to Mars. This is our place, this is our time–Mars is the next great human accomplishment!