Finally, at 60...an Astronaut!

By Eric Olson

February 25, 2014 Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 10:35 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, In (21Alive)--Ron Williams was four years old when he watched Sputnik, the first satellite in space, fly over his Bloomington, Indiana home. Ron would go on to follow closely America’s Mercury and Gemini missions, the Apollo mission and the moon landing. And even today at age sixty Dr. Ron Williams, noted Fort Wayne psychologist, is still enthralled with the science of space and space exploration.

“As they said in some of the astronaut movies you kinda just want to push the envelope a little bit to try something new, something different, a new experience,” Ron says.

Doctor Williams will get his chance to push that envelope. Williams was chosen from among 800 applicants to be part of a NASA research experiment simulating life on a Martian outpost. In a few weeks he and his crew will begin four months of isolation in a small settlement half way up Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano.

“We’re going to be studying how we get along with one another,” he says, “how do humans in such confinement over a long period of time, how do they work out differences, who emerges as a leader. How do they work out and deal with crises that happen.”

Crew members will wear space suits outside their living module; communications with the outside world will be delayed twenty minutes, just as they would on mars. The crew’s research and Ron Williams observations will be used to help design the first manned mission to Mars, a contribution to space exploration that four year old boy couldn’t have imagined back in 1957.

“I think he will be overjoyed that he got a chance to do something he thought about doing since he was four or five,” Ron says. “Who would have thought that at age 60 he’d be given the chance to do something like that? It’s truly a bucket list item for me.”

Eric Olson reporting, out in 21 Country.

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