GBBP 167: Commander Terry Virts

The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, Episode 167: Commander Terry Virts

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Today, we’re looking to the stars… and back to Earth. Commander Terry Virts joins us to talk about his career, his 210+ days in space, and his new book View From Above: An Astronaut Photographs the World (National Geographic Books).

Col. Virts was pilot on one of the final space shuttle missions – 2010’s STS-130 aboard the Endeavor – where he helped assemble the International Space Station. In 2014, he returned to the ISS aboard the Soyuz as part of Expedition 42 and stayed through Expedition 43, when we assumed command of the space station. He returned to Earth in June of 2015, but not before helping to film the IMAX film A Beautiful Planet and taking more than 300,000 photographs! (Oh yeah, and all that science he was actually there for.)

(Check out our Modern-Day Explorers episode of the podcast, which features two other NASA astronauts who also contributed to A Beautiful Planet.)

It’s Virts’s photos that form the heart of the astonishingly beautiful View From Above. The book is not only a fascinating look at our planet from a perspective most of us will never experience but also a peek at daily life aboard the ISS and everything that entails. It’s so much more than a “photo book.” Virts writes the book like a memoir, and his text is just as engaging and revealing as his photos.

On this episode, we chat about his new book, how he managed his time aboard the ISS with all of the competing demands, his preparation for space, the surprises that waited for him up there, sleeping in zero G, why he doesn’t have enough faith to be an atheist, and the biggest mistake he made in space.


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