(KGTV) - A NASA astronaut with a special tie to San Diego is preparing for her trip to the International Space Station.
Wednesday morning, 10News Anchor Jim Patton spoke to Dr. Jessica Meir, who earned her Doctorate in Marine Biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She’ll be taking her first space flight as part of the next crew going to the ISS.
"There is definitely a Scripps Institution of Oceanography flag as well as some other items from San Diego," said Astronaut Jessica Meir, speaking from Star City, Russia, where she's been training for the past year and half. She'll be applying her scientific skills to a myriad of experiments some 250 miles above the earth.
"We will be on board for about six months,” said Meir. “That's the average length of a space station mission these days. And we will be conducting all kinds of scientific investigations, ranging from how our blood vessels and arteries are actually thickening and stiffening in response to the spaceflight environment. And how it affects all of our physiological systems."
Meir says the research is part of the quest to send humans to Mars. Much of the work is at the leading edge of science but some is as practical as your kitchen.
"Do we have a progress for trash?" Meir can be seen asking a fellow crew member as they train on a mock-up of the space station. "Where do you think we're keeping trash right now?"
While very down to earth, Meir says all the training is very necessary. "When we have anything that breaks, like a toilet or need to change a light bulb, we can't call a plumber or electrician. We have to do all that stuff ourselves as well."
Of course, all of this amid a little background fact: it requires the guts to blast-off from the comforts of Earth into the ultimate hostile environment of space.
"How do you have the courage inside to do something like that,” asked Patton.
"I think the biggest answer is the amazing training here on the ground," answered Meir. "The teams in Houston, all over NASA, and here in Russia as well. They prepare us for any situation."
Jessica Meir and her crew are scheduled to take off from Russia on Sept. 25. They'll reach the ISS six hours after lift-off.