(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)
Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Marcos Pontes, the first Brazilian astronaut in space.
It’s not every day you get to meet someone who’s actually left the planet. Over the past year, Zoey’s had some incredible opportunities to meet and chat with truly remarkable people. However, astronauts—just from the nature of their work and what they’re able to do—are in a league of their own.
She therefore jumped at the chance to meet a real, live astronaut. I have to admit, it was quite a thrill for me, too.
Marcos Pontes is a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Brazilian Air Force (where he’s logged more than 2,000 hours as a test pilot) and is part of the Brazilian Space Agency. With a background in aeronautical engineering, he was selected to join NASA’s training program in 1998, and he qualified as a Space Shuttle Mission Specialist in 2000.
He was originally scheduled to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) on one of the shuttles, but the Columbia disaster in 2003 put everything on hold indefinitely. In 2005, NASA sent him to Russia for further training so he could join a Soyuz mission.
Pontes’s moment finally came in 2006 when he flew aboard Soyuz TMA-8 to the ISS, where he stayed for a week. He was the first Brazilian (and native Portuguese speaker) in space.
Pontes continues to have an active role in NASA, working in a technical role at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He is also on standby for future Brazilian space flights.
As always, all questions are Zoey’s. I simply prompt her with “clue words” so she can remember. Apologies on this one for the background fountain noise. (Make sure you turn on subtitles if you can’t make out Zoey’s questions.)
Thanks so much to Marcos Pontes for taking the time to chat with Zoey and to Sarah Hansen at Kennedy Space Center for helping to arrange the interview!