HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Well, that’s the dateline for this end of the story, anyway.
For as long as he can remember, 47-year-old Bob Hines dreamed of becoming an astronaut and launching into outer space. Now he is one — and is there. And he isn’t disappointed.
“Obviously you have these visions as a child of what it’s going to be like,” Hines said, speaking from the International Space Station. “I would say reality is even better.”
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See Seth Kaplan’s full 12-minute interview with Bob Hines in the video player at the bottom.
“It doesn’t matter how good your simulators are,” Hines said. “Nothing can really prepare you for the experience of the launch when those motors actually light and you get that pop off the launch pad and just the constant acceleration all the way up…. It’s just this crazy acceleration that almost feels out of control right until the second when the engine shuts off and you’re in orbit. And so that whole eight-and-a-half_minute experience was just phenomenal. And I am making sure that I just imprint that in my brain so that I never forget it.”
Then silence. And beauty.
“Until you are surrounded by it and you can look out the cupola 360 degrees and see the earth and the stars and, you know, the eclipse last [Sunday] night is just phenomenal and nothing can really prepare you for it,” Hines said.
What did prepare him, though, was his upbringing here — although, as a military brat, not only here.
“My grandparents live lived in Hershey, and that was the constant in my life as we moved around to all the different places, coming back to the Hershey/Harrisburg area,” Hines said. “That’s just really kind of where it always felt like home, and it still does.”
“It’s really cool to be talking with you and to be up here and, you know, and representing — even if in a small way — Central Pennsylvania and my roots, and what it’s done for me and developing me as a person,” Hines said.
“The values that I learned, just the general life lessons of hard work and perseverance,” Hines said. “You know, all of that comes from my time growing up there in Central Pennsylvania.”
But if Hines learned about hard work, he also learned something else he says is just as important.
“My family is really special to me as well,” he said. “And I think it’s important to understand that you can do those things without sacrificing your priorities of your family or your spiritual life… You can keep prioritizing things the way you feel is important but still, be successful and still have an opportunity to achieve your dreams.”
Hines shares the space station with three other astronauts and three Russian cosmonauts at a time when — back on earth — relations between America and Russia are the worst they’ve been since the Cold War. Maybe the International Space Station is particularly important at times like these?
“Our cosmonaut crewmates are amazing people, all three of them,” Hines said. “They are awesome. We have dinner several times a week with them… We all get along really, really well, and we have a blast together. So it is it’s just really an interesting and very neat experience to get up here and to be able to spend time with each other.
“And I think that’s one of the things,” Hines continued, “that, you know, we as a society kind of miss out on sometimes, is that in the fast-paced social media world, we get snapshots of people. But the great thing up here is that we get to spend six months immersed in each other’s lives, and we really get to know them. And it is a really special experience.”