While “failure is not an option” is a known phrase for NASA, astronaut and CSU alumnus Kjell Lindgren believes the exact opposite when speaking about his path to space. In fact, he believes that failure is required, saying it builds character and resilience.
“There are trials and there are tribulations as you’re walking along, and you slow down in a valley, and it’s going to happen,” Lindgren said. “So the thing about going to the valley, you keep yourself up and you start climbing up.”
Lindgren spoke on March 22 in the Lory Student Center Theatre about his path toward and experience of working as a flight engineer and “space doctor” for 141 days for international Space Station Expeditions 44 and 45. He conducted over a hundred different scientific missions.
Lindgren earned his bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Mandarin Chinese at the U.S. Air Force Academy and got his master’s in cardiovascular physiology from CSU.
“This is an individual, Lindgren, who has had a remarkable career— and a career that demonstrates just how far education can take someone,” said Tony Frank in his introduction. “We’re proud that he considers this a little part of what he calls home.”
The first half of his talk was about his journey to his career and some obstacles along the way. According to Lindgren, a valley for him was getting kicked out of pilot school and the Air Force due to being diagnosed with medical issues. However, this led him to completing his medical degree at University of Colorado and soon became board-certified in emergency and aerospace medicine after studying at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
During the second half, he talked about some of his experiences in space including playing the bagpipes and eating the first space-grown lettuce.
Senior Civil Engineering major Trevor Sand came to see Lindgren talk to get his perspective on becoming an astronaut.
“The first third of his talk was pretty inspirational, but I thought it was really cool how he talked about looking down at the earth and seeing how things changed and how he could see hurricanes, how he could see just how small the planet looked,” Sand said. “And I thought it was cool how he said if more people could go up there, they would realize they would need to take better care of the environment.”
The Collegian got to speak with Lindgren for a Q&A about more details about his experiences living and working in space.
Collegian Science Beat Reporter Seth Bodine can be reached online at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Sbodine120.