NASA Astronaut That Flew Aboard SpaceX Says Elon Musk Has A Very Human Side

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Before SpaceX launched three businessmen and a former astronaut escort to the International Space Station on Friday, NASA astronaut Doug Hurley rode a SpaceX Crew Dragon into orbit. The space flight ended a nine-year hiatus of NASA astronauts being launched into space from American soil and is the focus of an upcoming Netflix documentary, “Return to Space”.

The three businessmen are part of Axiom mission, AX-1, which launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday for a paid vacation. Well, not paid in the normal sense, because they actually paid $55 million dollars each for the trip to ISS (all meals included). During their time aboard ISS, the three will take part in a full slate of science experiments. However, before the trio launched Friday, Doug Hurley took part in a historic SpaceX launch that marked the first time a private company sent astronauts into space and ended America’s nine-year dependence on Russia.

In a recent interview with Fox Business, Doug Hurley, a 55-year-old former US Marine, and retired NASA astronaut spoke about the documentary and his odyssey working alongside Elon Musk.

When asked what his initial impression of Musk was, Hurley said he met Musk early in the process and was impressed with his “grasp of the technical situation”. He added that the tech billionaire wanted to understand and be part of the entirety of the process and to get to the heart of the situation. Safety was a huge concern for Musk according to Hurley, saying that Musk ensured him that he would be returning to his family.

The former astronaut said that a common misconception about Musk is that he is eccentric and detached, when in fact he has a “a very human side to him”. Hurley stated Musk spoke to them just a couple of days before launch, saying, “We have done everything. We have looked at everything. Is there anything else we can do to ensure the safety of this mission and bring you all back to Earth?” Hurley added that Musk spoke to every employee before launch, even the interns.

“What I witnessed was a man who was genuinely concerned about our well-being and our families,” Hurley said. “And I will always be thankful for that because I’m still here. We’re back with our families. And the mission was successful.”

Regarding the recent report of an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut returning to Earth together, Hurley said that space travel is a “huge team effort”. And with the current state of geopolitics, he feels the international space program has proven that. He said, “We all want to work together and accomplish great things. And for us to that (in space travel), we get the politics out of the discussion and work together as a team, regardless of where you come from.”

Hurley said in the interview that access to space travel is the main driving factor behind the current state of urgency to further explore space. He said, “There are more players in the game, so to speak. You have companies that are flying people in, certainly SpaceX. The access is there.” He also hopes that humans will be able to explore Mars in person soon. He said, “The effort to go to Mars is going to be a huge one. It’s going to take countries and companies, a true team effort. But we will. We’ll ultimately get there.”

Top Image Credit: Netflix