One Small Step at a Time for Astronaut Kelly, Speaking at RFDC
“It’s great to be here,” said astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Scott Kelly, to open his keynote address at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference today. “After being in space for a year it’s great to be anywhere with gravity.”
Kelly clocked 520 days in space during his career as a NASA astronaut, and commanded the International Space Station on expeditions 26, 45 and 46. Part of the most recent mission was to test how the human body fared without gravity for an entire year, as a step toward a mission to Mars in the future. (A Mars voyage would take 200 days to get there, more than a year on the surface of Mars, and then another 200 days to get back.)
“The human body was made for living in gravity. Strange things happen to it when we live without it,” Kelly told the crowd of restaurant operators and financiers. Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark, also an astronaut, will be studied to compare what happened to their genetic makeups during Kelly’s mission.
Kelly said he was a terrible student growing up, with no focus in grade school or high school and a failing first year in college. Then one day he picked up a book in the college bookstore—"The Right Stuff," by Tom Wolfe, about the test pilots who became Project Mercury astronauts for NASA. He was hooked, and started teaching himself step by step to gain the goal of astronaut.
His mother inspired him when he was about 10 years old, when she decided to become a police officer like his father, even though she was only about 4 feet 11 inches tall and daunted by the rigorous physical test she would have to pass. Kelly’s father built an obstacle course for her in the backyard to train, and the first day she couldn’t even touch the top of the wall.
“She devised this plan, and her first step was, ‘I’m going to just try to touch the top,’ and it took about a month.” Then she worked on the next step and the next, ultimately completing the test to clamber over the wall in half the time required to be admitted to the police force.
“She did a lot better than most of the men,” Kelly said. “This was the first time my brother and I saw the value of having a goal and a plan with very small and manageable steps and working very, very hard.” It’s a philosophy he lives by today, and encourages others to do so as well.
The Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, presented by Franchise Times’ sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor, continues until noon Wednesday, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.