Astronaut Learns Russian before Going into Space

Even though the Space Shuttle is gone, it doesn’t mean that American astronauts have to find different careers or that American children have to give up their dreams.

There are other nations going into space that are more than willing to give other astronauts a lift to the stars. However, for many astronauts, that means learning a new language well enough to provide professional translation, because in space, mistakes can be deadly.

How to Get to the International Space Station

For NASA employee Shannon Walker, the only way she was getting back into space was by hitching a rocket ride to the international space station. Before she was allowed to go though, she had to learn Russian. The Russian language is a notoriously tricky language to learn for many people, and though Walker struggled, she prevailed and was sent to the international station in a Russian rocket.

Russian translation is now easy for Shannon, and she is hoping to go back into space soon. She recently shared her story to students at St. Anne School in Barrington, Chicago, and is planning to speak to more students around the country.

NASA Audience

"NASA takes all kinds of people," Walker told her student audience on Wednesday January 9th. "The most important thing is you have to do well in school, so study hard if you want to be at NASA." The students who eventually get to be employed by NASA might have something else to look forward to now: being bilingual.

Shannon’s story isn’t uncommon. Astronauts commonly work with people from other counties, and they are frequently Russian cosmonauts. It only makes sense that astronauts should be proficient in professional business translation to make work conditions more comfortable and safe.

Language Isn’t the Only Barrier

To become a candidate for going into space, Walker also had to become a physicist. That made her eligible. When she was chosen for the space program, she had to begin training. Besides learning Russian, Walker had to become physically fit and learn basic medical and dental skills.

She was trained rigorously on emergency procedures and survival skills as well. Walker suggested that if students want to become an astronaut, they should learn Russian while they are still in school. She says it’s much easier than learning the language as an adult with a deadline.

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