NASA Astronaut Andrew Feustel Admits He Has A ‘Mild Fear Of Heights’

Andrew Feustel seen after qualifying for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, in November 2012.
Mark Thompson / Getty Images

NASA astronaut Andrew J. Feustel, who was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, has admitted to having a “fear” that many people might find hard to believe. Feustel says he has a “mild fear of heights,” but this “fear” goes away completely once he reaches 250 miles above the Earth.

On Wednesday, Feustel was launched to the ISS onboard a Soyuz spacecraft, along with NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. It was Feustel’s third flight into space, second to the ISS, and the first into space as a long-duration crew member. Feustel will stay onboard the ISS for nearly six months and will take over the commander of the ISS in June this year.

NASA has released a video revealing five things about Feustel that most people are not aware of. In the video, Feustel reveals that he holds a dual Canadian–U.S. citizenship. He is skilled in barefoot water skiing and has been doing it since a young age. He has two sons who were born on the same day, 26 April, but two years apart. Feustel said he grew up with two dreams in his life. The first was to become a Formula One race car driver, and the second was to become an astronaut.

According to CNET, Feustel has all the abilities to overcome his fear of heights, which he has already demonstrated in his previous space trips. Feustel has spent 29 days in space and carried out six spacewalks (totaling 42 hours) during his previous two space journeys.

Feustel is from Lake Orion, Michigan, according to NASA. He was raised in Michigan and graduated from Lake Orion High School. Then, he went on to earn an Associate Science degree from Oakland Community College, Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Solid Earth Sciences from Purdue University.

After completing his Master’s degree in Geophysics from Purdue University in 1991, he shifted to Ontario, Canada, to pursue a doctorate degree in geological sciences from Queen’s University. Feustel completed his Ph.D. in 1995.

In July 2000, he was selected by NASA for astronaut class. His initial training included five weeks of T-34 flight school at Pensacola, Florida. After completing intense astronaut training at NASA, Feustel was assigned technical duties at NASA’s Space Station Branches. His first space mission was STS-125. This mission was launched on Atlantis in May 2009 and was the final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Feustel’s second space mission was STS-134. It was launched on May 16, 2011, to deliver ExPress Logistics Carrier and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS. It was Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission to the ISS.

According to NASA, Feustel is married to Indira Devi Bhatnagar, a speech pathologist from Ontario, Canada. He enjoys snow skiing, guitar, and auto restoration. He is also a fan of motorbike racing.