Mike Good spent 25 years in the Air Force before suiting up to get a closer look at the stars. Last May, he was among the crew shuttled into orbit to make repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope.
“We were really working with our hands and actually crawling inside it,” Good says of the mission, which is documented in Hubble, the Imax film currently showing at the Great Lakes Science Center. “It’s really a new telescope now.”
This month, the 46-year-old Broadview Heights native, who now lives in Houston, will be among the STS-132 crew ferrying supplies to astronauts aboard the International Space Station. We recently caught up with Good to talk about space, his training and watching thunderstorms from high above Earth.
Q. Was the Hubble mission your first time in space?
A. It was my first flight. There were four of us who had never been up before. It was quite a ride. There’s a lot of vibration and shaking [when] you lift off. … It’s three G’s on your chest. It gets to the point where it’s hard to breathe. It’s really an effort to do that. The ride takes eight and a half minutes. Then you’re in orbit.
Q. What’s it like living and working in zero gravity?
A. You can just fly around. It’s like you’re swimming. There’s no up and no down. … We’d go out the hatch and into the payload bay and look at Earth. … The horizon is 360 degrees. You get to see the sunrise and sunset every 90 minutes.
Q. Is it tough adjusting to Earth once you return?
A. Coming back here is oppressive. Everything feels really heavy. You come back and the littlest thing feels 10 times heavier than what it would normally weigh.
Q. What did you miss most while in space?
A. Feeling the sun on your face, the breeze on your back. You’re confined to this small space with seven people. I missed sitting in my backyard by my pool and having a cup of coffee.
Q. Do you really ride in that big centrifuge
A. We did one ride in the centrifuge. It wasn’t really that big a deal. We worked in the simulator, practiced for landings and re-entry. It was kind of a big video game. We have a big pool that’s 40 feet deep with life-size models of the telescope and the payload bay. We’re in the water in our spacesuits, not sinking or floating. It’s a lot like being out there.
Q. Is there much down time during a mission?
A. It’s very busy, especially for us. We’re doing more of a sprint. There is down time, [though]. I like to just look out the window, look out at all the stars. One of the coolest things is watching a thunderstorm; you can see the sky light up with 10 or 12 lightning flashes at once.