Jason Petula, 37 ans, actuel responsable du département Mathématiques et Sciences d'une école américaine, a été candidat pour devenir Education Astronaut lors des sélections d'astronautes de la NASA en 2004 (Groupe 19) et 2009 (Groupe 20).
Il a, à chaque fois, terminé dans le groupe des ''demi-finalists''.
Il a gentiment accepté de répondre à cette interview afin de partager sa passion pour l'espace et de nous faire comprendre ce qui pouvait motiver une personne à se présenter à une sélection d'astronaute.
Interview réalisée en 2010.
QUESTIONS TO JASON PETULA, DOCTOR OF MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE
Why have you decide to become candidate for NASA astronaut selection ?
I always dreamed of being an Astronaut since I was boy.
I remember vividly the Challenger tragedy as a seventh grade student. Despite the risks, I wanted to be part of something bigger than any individual.
I wanted to be a member of team that accomplished remarkable feats that challenged the boundaries of human exploration.
I consider the Astronaut Corp to be a wonderful way to serve my county and fellow humans.
What is your job and why have choose to do it ?
My current job is the Director of Mathematics and Science at the Abington Heights School District.
My responsibilities include the supervision of all K-12 teachers of mathematics and science; alignment of curricula to state standards; professional development of faculty; and acting as a liaison between the science and education research community and professional educators.
I choose this position because I feel that reforms in education underway in the United States are analogous to urgency experienced during the Apollo era.
During the Apollo era (aka, the space race) our nation was challenged to regain supremacy in space. Over 400,000 people were directly involved in the Apollo program, and many people consider the moon landing to one of our nation’s most amazing feats – a source of national pride.
Now, our education system is need tremendous reform. The changes needed in education cannot be accomplished by an individual – it has to be a team effort.
I feel that the next ten years in education will be remarkable. If we are able to reform our educational system, we will return our system to the best in the world.
I suppose you would like to go in space. But why ?
My reason for wanting to go into space is simple. I enjoy exploration.
I have been fortunate to travel to all corners of the world. Whether it is Atlas Mountains of North Africa or the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, the desire to travel a little bit beyond previous explorers lingers.
In addition to personal reasons, I see traveling in space as a unique vehicle for inspiring students around the world to take more interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Finally, the Astronauts I have been fortunate to meet were the most amazing people. I would consider it honor to work with them.
Did you think it's important for the mankind to have a step in space, to send man in space and why ?
There are many reasons why I believe a human spaceflight program is important.
First, and the least measureable, is the impact it has on students.
I met so many people that entered a STEM field because they were inspired by the Human Spaceflight program.
Second, I want to support scientific research that is amplified by low-gravity environments.
I am always amazed how many spinoffs from the Human Spaceflight program improve our standard of living.
I believe that the average citizen would support the investment of their tax dollars into the Human Spaceflight program if they better understood the return on their investment.
What represent for you Yuri Gagarin ?
I am not sure what you are asking, but I will do my best. Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space and that earns him a rightful place in the history of human exploration.
What represent for you Apollo 11 ?
The Apollo 11 mission represents the accomplishments of a national effort and the vision of President John Kennedy.
Although I often feel intense patriotism when I reflect on the Apollo program, I also feel a deeper connect to my fellow man.
Humans are explorer’s by nature. And, we are all members of the same family.
In the future, I suspect human spaceflight will become less of a nation’s effort and more of a global effort.
Apollo 11 represented what one nation can accomplish when everyone works toward a common vision.
The future holds that space exploration will require the effort of nations. For example, the construction of the International Space Station (ISS) is a great example of how many nationals can work together to accomplish the unimaginable.
Perhaps the lessons learned from these collaborations can drive progress in other areas beyond human space flight (e.g., eradicating Malaria, eliminating starvation, curing cancer, etc.)
What is your most incredible space dream ?
My space dream is to sit strapped in a capsule and feeling the rockets ignite as the countdown approaches zero. Then, embrace the energy during the lift off as the rocket propels upward from the pad.
After the short flight into low-Earth orbit, I dream of floating to a window and catching my first glimpse of the Earth from such a tremendous altitude. Ninety minutes I would celebrate my first circumnavigation of the planet orbiting in spacecraft.