Despite being born here, Andrew Feustel, NASA astronaut, said he has no memory of Lancaster County.
Raised in Lake Orion, Michigan, he left Lancaster six months after being born. And while he's traveled to space, he hasn't been back to Lancaster.
About that space travel, though: Since being selected as an astronaut in 2000, Feustel has gone on three space missions: STS-125 Atlantis, STS-134 and Expedition 55/56, March 21 through October 4, 2018.
He's clocked an impressive 226 days in space.
During that time, he spent 61 hours and 48 minutes outside the spacecraft, ranking him No. 3 worldwide for aggregate extra-vehicular activity.
LNP conducted a phone interview with Feustel and asked the Lancaster-born astronaut a handful of questions. Here are his answers.
1. Did you always want to be an astronaut?
Feustel said he grew up constantly "thinking about exploration" — specifically space exploration. He cited "Star Trek," "Star Wars" and "Lost in Space" as influences that fostered his passion for exploration.
"I had a desire to be associated with the space program," Feustel said. "And I kept my focus."
And he did keep his focus: in 2020, Feustel will celebrate 20 years as a NASA astronaut.
2. What is your favorite part of being an astronaut?
Feustel's favorite part of being an astronaut isn't being in space, but instead educating kids about the work he does.
"I love trying to motivate kids - they really can do anything they really put their minds to with focus and determination," he said.
Feustel said that he likes to share the journey to his career as an astronaut, as it varies greatly from his colleagues.
After graduating high school, Feustel attended Oakland Community College in Michigan, where he earned his Associate Science degree.
He also worked as an auto mechanic at International Autoworks, Ltd. in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
"There is no traditional way to get from Point A to Point B," Feustel said. "Do what you love and follow your passions."
I have had my “glory days in the hot sun” and now it’s time to come home. Thank you everybody for following along on Expedition 56’s journey living on @Space_Station. I hope you continue to follow @NASA as we explore the great depths of space for the benefit of humanity. pic.twitter.com/HhUkzbUjSN— A.J. (Drew) Feustel (@Astro_Feustel) October 3, 2018
3. What's next for you?
Feustel doesn't have any plans to jet into space anytime soon, but he does plan to help those who do.
In a few weeks, he'll begin training and supporting others who are getting ready to fly, sharing advice and skills with the other astronauts.
4. Do you remember the first moon landing? And as we approach the 50th anniversary, what are your thoughts?
Feustel said he doesn't remember Apollo 11 landing on the moon — he was only 4 years old at the time.
But he said he has memories of listening to reporting on a later moon landing with his mother.
He does recall the moon landing and the missions following to be a "time when everyone was interested in a common goal."
Feustel hopes for the same with the moon landing planned for 2024.
"I hope it offers an opportunity for people to believe in something that serves everyone," he said.
You can keep up with Feustel and his space adventures @astro_feustel on Instagram and Twitter.