Duane ''Digger'' Carey est un astronaute de la NASA sélectionné en 1996 dans le Groupe 16. Ancien pilote d'essai de l'S Air Force, il est le pilote de la navette spatiale lors de la mission STS-109. Il quitte la NASA en 2004. Actuellement, il est consultant. Veritable amoureux de la moto, il a fait le tour des USA et envisage de faire le tour du monde à moto.
Il a son propre site internet : http://www.astronautbiker.com/
Interview réalisée en 2009
Q : How many years were you connected to the space program prior to your flight ?
A : You can find my bio at http://www.astronautbiker.com/. I was selected by NASA in 1996 and I flew my mission in Space (STs-109) in March of 2002.
Q : How did you feel prior to the flight ?
A : Excited and a bit scared. I was not nervous, however. We had trained so hard that I had a great confidence in my crew and myself.
I was ready to go...there was no stopping us !
Q : What kinds of sensations did you experienced during take-off ?
A : As the Pilot, I was busy during the lift-off. I did, however, indulge in a small, selfish though about 20 seconds before main engine ignition : ''Man, I hope everything works''. The initial movement at liftoff was quiete gentle. That ended in a few seconds, however, when the big solids started to vibrate and blur my vision a bit. It was not real noisy in cockpit... I could hear a fair amount of wind noise about 100 knots or so either side of the mach.
Q : What does weightlessness feel like, and what did you thing about during the flight ?
A : The whole weightless thing was a bit unpleasant for me at first. On our third day in Space, it got very pleasant... very relaxing. As far as what I thought about, I was very busy supporting our mission and that process dominated my thoughts during the entire flight.
Q : What were some of the problems you encountered and how did you fixed them ?
A : Our spacehip had a potentially serious problem that we noticed shortly after attaining orbit. The cooling system was compromised. However, our team on the ground worked overtime and determinated that we could complete our mission safely. Other than that, I encountered no real problems during the conduct of my duties.
Q : What did you eat, and did it taste real ?
A : I ate the typical space food. It taste fine, but I did not eat much of my food. I was so busy that I could not find the time to eat properly. I lost a few pounds during the mission.
Q : What was Re-entry like ?
A : Scary and fun... Scary because I could see the plasma cloud outside the windows. Fun because the experience was somewhat akin to flying a regular airplane... except we were much higher and faster that I've never been in a conventional airplane.
Q : Were you glad to be back Earth, or did you feel you could have spent the rest of your life up there ?
A : I was happy to be back on Eath. Another astronaut once said that only 10% of all people would be happy living of the surface of the Earth. When I was younger, I'd have gladly signed on the living on Mars, for instance, for the rest of my life. I'm older now, and when I was in Space, I missed the Earth. I'd love to go to back to space for 2-3 weeks holidays, however, if I could ride motorcycles on another planet, however, I might change my mind about living there for the rest of my life !