Bryan O'Connor est un astronaute de la NASA sélectionné en 1980 dans le groupe 9. Ancien pilote d'essai de l'US Marine Corps, il a effectué 2 missions spatiales. STS-61B en tant que pilote et STS-40 en tant que Commandant. Il quitte le corps actif en 1991. Actuellement, administrateur-Adjoint de la NASA.
Interview réalisée en 2009
Q : How many years were you connected to the space program prior your first flight ?
A : 5 years.
Q : How did you feel prior to the flight ?
A : I felt confident about my training. But since it was my first flight, I was little nervous about the unknows.
Q : What kinds of sensations did you experienced during the take-off ?
A : Lots of noise and vibrations during the first minute, then very smooth although the ''g'' forces slowly incrased to ''3g'' making me feel heavy.
Q : What does weightlessness feel like, and what did you think about during the flight ?
A : Weightlessness is a wonderful experience. It is pleasant to be free of gravity's pull.
Q : What were some of the problems you encountered and how did you fix them ?
A : We had very few problems on the flight. One that was interesting was a torn payload bay door seal. For several hours, while Mission Control Houston analysed the problem, we thought we might have to do a spacewalk to repair the seal. In the end, we entered with the seal torn and there was no problem.
Q : What did you eat, and did it taste real ?
A : We ate pretty normal food which we had rehydrated. It taste good but I used some hot sauce to improve it. The coffee was not very good, so I didn't drint it, and I got a ''caffeine headache''.
Q : What was Re-entry like ?
A : Entry was not nearly as exciting as ascent. It was a long slow, smooth flight, with the ''g'' forces lower than launch. As we turned on final approach, thow, we saw a cloud in the way, and we could not see the runaway until passing 6000 feet. That was interesting but no problem... the instruments very accurate, and when we came out of the cloud, wwe were right where we were supposed to be.
Q : Were you glad to back on earth, or did you feel you could have spent the rest of your life up there ?
A : I was glad to be home. We accomplished our mission, so I was ready to come back.