In early March, Army Special Operations (ARSOF) troops and their families got the chance to talk to Colonel Andrew Morgan, an ARSOF medical officer and NASA Astronaut, and ask him about life in space.
Col. Morgan is a qualified Special Forces Combat Diver, arguably one of the toughest ratings to achieve in the Army, and a former Special Forces Underwater Operations (SFUWO) Dive Medical Officer. He is also a qualified Military Freefall parachutist – his Combat Diver “Bubble” and his MFF “Wings” make him a “Whiskey 9.”
One of the questions focused on the experiments that astronauts conduct on the ISS. “Over the course of my time up here the International Space Station,” answered Col. Morgan, “we will be conducting somewhere between 250 to 300 experiments. Some of those are medical experiments. We collect all sorts of samples to see how our bodies change over the course of our time up here.”
During his team in the 3rd Special Forces Group (3rd SFG), Col. Morgan served as a battalion surgeon. He also spent time as a surgeon in the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).
Dr. (Col.) Andrew Morgan on the International Space Station answering questions from children throughout the USASOC and subordinate commands on March 12, 2020 (Photo by Sergeant 1st Class Jacob Connor).
Another child asked, “What does it feel like when you’re in a rocketing from Earth to Space?” And Col. Morgan responded that “We feel the force on our chests. Three to four times my body weight pressing on my chest as we accelerate, eventually we get to orbit, and the engine shuts off and instantaneously, you’re weightless.”
Col. Morgan is currently serving aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a flight engineer for Expedition 60, 61 and 62. He was selected to become a NASA astronaut in 2013 as part of the NASA Astronaut Group 21.
As one would imagine, the process of becoming a NASA astronaut is selective, rigorous, and lengthy. To be considered for the program, a candidate must possess a degree in STEM and extensive professional experience. A good portion of those who succeed in the program come from the military. For example, from Col. Morgan’s class, six out of the eight astronauts are also military officers.
The Navy SEAL community also has a strong representation in NASA’s astronaut cadre. Three SEALs have managed to earn the coveted Astronaut title. Captain William Shepherd (Underwater Demolition Team Eleven, SEAL Team One, and SEAL Team Two) was the first; Captain Chris Cassidy (SEAL Team Three and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two) was the second; finally, Lieutenant Johnny Kim (SEAL Team Three and Silver Star recipient) became the third in January when he graduated the NASA Astronaut program.