Crew Dragon’s Bob Behnken offers encouraging words for wannabe astronauts

Following their historic ride to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule over the weekend, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are currently settling in for their stay on the orbiting outpost.

Looking fully refreshed after the 19-hour trip, the two astronauts took time out on Monday, June 1, to discuss a range of topics in a video interview with Benji Reed, SpaceX’s director of crew mission management.

Saturday’s launch marked the first crewed lift-off from U.S. soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, and was the first time for astronauts to travel in the Crew Dragon. Mindful that the groundbreaking event will have inspired many kids to get excited about space travel, Reed asked Behnken what advice he had for the next generation of astronauts.

“Dreams do come true, and you should chase them,” the 49-year-old astronaut said. “When we had our meeting with Elon [Musk, SpaceX CEO] the other day, we talked about the audacity it takes to pull off human space flight … and if you work really hard you can accomplish great things, and this is just a true example of exactly that … folks not giving up whatever challenges are in front of them.”

Behnken added: “Folks talk about SpaceX being a new company, a new kid on the block. [After 18 years of work], it’s almost unfair to call yourself a new kid on the block anymore, once you’ve made it to low Earth orbit with humans and have 18 years invested. So hats off and congratulations to you guys for accomplishing it. You accomplished something great because you dared to dream it.”

During its latest recruitment round for the next generation of astronauts earlier this year, NASA received more than 12,000 applications from wannabe space travelers.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the time the space agency had entered “a bold new era of space exploration” as its Artemis program gears up to send the first American woman and next American man to the moon in 2024, while it also eyes a crewed trip to Mars in the years ahead.

Since its very first recruitment drive in the 1960s, the space agency has hired a total of 350 people to train as astronaut candidates for its increasingly challenging missions to space.

As part of its Commercial Crew Program, NASA is turning to private companies like SpaceX for the means to complete its space missions. The agency also recently named SpaceX as its first commercial partner for delivering cargo to the Lunar Gateway space station planned for the moon.

These are certainly exciting times for space travel, and Behnken’s words of encouragement could be what it takes for interested children to dream big and get involved.

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