First Time Skydiving – Astronaut Training| #AskAbby Space and Science Show | The Mars Generation

Season 2, Episode 5 of The Space and Science Show #AskAbby series

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First Time Skydiving! – Astronaut Training 

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In the fifth episode of Season two of #AskAbby, aspiring astronaut Abby Harrison aka “Astronaut Abby” continues her mission to training to become an astronaut! In order to feel a sense of weightlessness, Abby takes the leap and goes skydiving for the very first time! Have you ever considered going skydiving, but are unsure about the process? Watch this video to learn what your first ever jump would likely be like!

Includes answers to questions including: Are astronauts usually required to become proficient in skydiving? How is skydiving used in space travel? How does a complete beginner skydive? What does it take to become trained in skydiving? How do you become a certified skydiving instructor? And many more! Be wary of watching this video if you’re scared of heights!

Tune in for new releases of The Space and Science Show #AskAbby series and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel here so you don’t miss an episode!

Transcription of FIRST TIME SKYDIVING:

What’s the difference between a bad golfer and a bad skydiver?
Well, a bad golfer goes: “Smack. Uh, darn!” Whereas a bad skydiver goes “Whoa, darn! Smack.”

Haha! I crack myself up.

Hey everyone! It’s Astronaut Abby, an aspiring astronaut with the goal to be the first astronaut to walk on Mars, and this is Ask Abby, a show where I answer all of you, the viewer’s, questions about space and science.

And today, we’re taking on a brand new, exciting adventure! Parachuting, or as some people call it…skydiving!

As you all know, I love any sport or adventure that takes my feet off the ground, whether it be rock climbing, gymnastics, parasailing, diving, flying an airplane, bungee jumping, or even parachuting. I love the experience and thrill of being in the air.

Tons of people also ask me what’s actually necessary to become an astronaut. Well, there’s a whole other Ask Abby episode that goes into much more detail on that, but the basic requirements are that you need to have a great education, good work experience, and pass a physical test.

However there’s also a ton of other stuff that you can add to your resume to try and make your application stand out amongst the thousands of other people who will be vying for your same, limited spot among the astronaut corps. These can be among many different things, whether it’s learning Russian, learning how to fly a plane, or even…parachuting!

Neither NASA or ESA currently use parachute training with their astronauts, however Russia does and NASA has included some parachute release training in the past. So, getting some experience with parachuting, or skydiving, certainly won’t hurt your application. And it could even help you to stand out amongst the 18,000 plus other people who are all vying for those 8 coveted spots..

So today is my first ever time parachuting, and I figured that I would bring you all along!

However, I have absolutely zero training in parachuting, I’ve never done it before, and so I won’t be jumping alone. That would be a very bad idea.

I’ll be doing something called tandem jumping, where I jump connected to a certified instructor, which is what any reputable skydiving organization will have you do.

Once you’ve done enough tandem jumping, you can actually qualify for solo jumping. Depending on the number of jumps that you do and the difficulty of those jumps, you can get an A, B, C, or D parachuting license. First time in my life that I haven’t wanted to have an A…

Today, I’ll also be jumping with my mom (awwwww), because what parent hasn’t, at some point, wanted to toss their child out of an airplane? When my mom heard that she had the chance to do that, she jumped on it.

(Interview with Sam Basques–USPA Tandem Instructor):

Hey everyone, I’m here with Sam, the crazy lady who just jumped out of an airplane with me strapped to her. She is a fantastic instructor and we’re going to ask her some questions about skydiving in general.

Abby: So Sam, how long have you been parachuting for?

Sam: Ten years this summer.

Abby: 10 years, wow–and in that time, how many jumps would you estimate you’ve done?

Sam: I’m actually coming up on 5,000 here.

Abby: No way!

Sam: Yep

Abby: That’s amazing. Okay, congratulations on that!

Sam: Thank you, thank you very much.

Abby: So what’s the process of becoming, first off, certified to jump alone, and then after that, continuing down.

Sam: Yeah. So there’s several different kinds of programs out there. This place offers – Skydiving Twin Cities offers AFF jumping. It’s a very short, condensed program of seven skydives. You go through all seven skydives, and then if you pass all of them you move onto a solo-student status, where you’re kind of on a probationary period. And then from there you get A licensed, and from A license onward, you can kind of jump with anybody else who is licensed.
Abby: Gotcha. And so how long does it take to get your A license, usually? How many jumps?

Sam: It varies with different people. It’s all about how much time and money you really have to throw at the sport. Sometimes people have to repeat certain skydives, some people have issues, some people fly through it really fast, so it can take anywhere from y’know, like a month to, y’know, several months or maybe an entire season.

Abby: Some people fly through it really fast?

Sam: Haha yes, that’s a very good pun. Play on words there, I like that.

Abby: Hey, you said it, not me. So what would you do after an A license?

Sam: After an A license? So, there are different licenses. There’s A, B, C, and D; I currently hold a D license–it’s kind of the highest level license that you can have. It’s the license that you need to take people on tandems. There’s A, B, C, and D, and each one of those allows you to do a certain number more things than the license before that.

A is pretty basic–y’know, you can kind of skydive with anybody else that’s licensed. B–you’re allowed to be a coach with your B license and you can do a certain number of things with that. C–I think you are required to have a C license for AFF instruction, where you’re teaching people how to skydive, and the D is when you can strap people to you and fall out of airplanes.


Videographer: So, Abby, what was the hardest part of the whole thing?

Abby: Oh, the hardest part was definitely the ground! Actually, landing was totally a breeze. It kind of, well, it literally was, because we were catching some thermals on the way in, but you get what I’m saying.

Thanks so much for joining me on my first time skydiving. I hope that you had as much fun as I did. And I know that I’m completely ready to work towards my solo and jump alone…let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d be willing to do!

If you want to ask a question and see it answered here, on Ask Abby, go ahead and tweet it to me using the hashtag: #AskAbby, or go to the Mars Generation website which is linked below, as always, and submit it there.

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Until next time, farewell fellow travelers of spaceship Earth!

That’s a wrap!

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