Tess Morris Paterson podcast

021: Tess Morris-Paterson on astronaut training

In this inspiring interview with Tess Morris-Paterson, listeners are offered a glimpse into a journey of astonishing transformation. Tess, who began her career as a sports scientist, went through profound self-reflection and questioning to ultimately embark on a path to become an astronaut.

Tess shares her early career experiences in sports physiology, working with companies like Lucozade Sport and in the field of professional football. She talks about how an unpaid work opportunity with Tom Reilly at Liverpool John Moore’s University was a pivotal experience for her. During this time, she honed her networking and professional skills, which were crucial for her development.

The interview delves into the topic of gender, particularly Tess’s experience being a female working in the football industry. She emphasizes the importance of understanding what makes each person tick as the key to being effective in her role in professional football.

The conversation takes a fascinating turn as Tess talks about her moment of realization that she wanted to pursue becoming an astronaut. She mentions the essential roles that mentors and rigorous self-examination played in her decision to enroll in an Aerospace Physiology PhD program at Kings College London. The program led her to a supervisory role at NASA, further cementing her dedication to her newfound career path.

Tess openly discusses the intense demands and responsibilities of becoming an astronaut, from rigorous medical and psychiatric evaluations to the life-or-death importance of technical and interpersonal skills in high-pressure environments. She goes into the exciting future missions NASA has planned, including establishing a lunar base and a Mars mission by 2030.

She also talks about “becoming a guinea pig astronaut,” essentially using herself to explore the skills and qualities needed for space travel, all underpinned by her PhD research. According to Tess, your character’s qualities and skills are not just for career growth; they’re a matter of life and death in space.

As for her next steps, Tess shares her plans to start a scientific role with NASA and mentions her ongoing efforts to become one of eight selected astronauts among 18,000 applicants. She also looks ahead to potential opportunities with the European Space Agency, who are expected to look for a new cohort of astronauts in the next 5-10 years.

To close, Tess reflects on the lessons she’s learned about herself and from others. She speaks to how her journey has inspired others to step out of their comfort zones and underscores the significance of the support of others and the concept of “accountable failure.”

This interview not only illuminates Tess’s incredible personal and professional journey but also serves as a testament to the boundless possibilities that come with deep self-reflection, meticulous planning, and the courage to act on your dreams.

Show notes
05:45 – Applying sports physiology, strength & conditioning and nutrition in a variety of elite high-performance sports.
07:50 – Early career experiences at Lucozade Sport and working in professional football for five years before goal posts started to shift.
11:30 – Explores the benefits and risks of taking a non-paid work opportunity with Tom Reilly at Liverpool John Moore’s University and the personal and professional qualities required to make this time successful.
16:03 – An aspiring helicopter pilot and officer in training whilst at university. Networking and getting applied experience whilst at university is vital.
18:30 – Gender, being female and working in football.
18:59 – Developing and sustaining relationships by identifying what makes each person tick is fundamental to being effective in a role whilst working in professional football.
23:43 – A journey of self-reflection resulted in the realisation of wanting to become an astronaut.
29:50 – The impact of transition on self and important others around you.
31:40 – Aerospace physiology PhD at Kings College London, supervisor working at NASA.
37:00 – Rigorous medical and psychiatric process involved in becoming an astronaut. Becoming self-aware, deep reflection of self is fundamental to discovering whether you could become an astronaut.
39:37 – The next big missions being explored by NASA are to have a lunar base and a Mars based mission by 2030.
44:24 – Technical capability and interpersonal intelligence fundamental when under high tension and high pressure – lives are on the line in space!
47:06 – ‘Becoming a guinea pig astronaut’ and starting to develop the skills and qualities required to become an astronaut – underpinned by Tess’s PhD research. 52:17 – Being the right type of person is vital – character, can it be improved? Personal qualities and skills are a matter of life and death. Identifying, understanding and developing these are essential. Fundamentally you will ask, can I trust this person? 56:56 – Space wrestling could be an apt solution for maintaining physiology!
59:30 – Space is quite literally out of this world. Volatile, complex, unbearable and disgusting at times.
1:00:10 – Next steps for Tess? Starting a scientific role with NASA in January, moving to San Francisco whilst striving to become 1 of 8 astronauts amongst 18000 applicants, skydiving regularly and potentially becoming an airline pilot.
1:05:22 – European Space Agency look for a new cohort of astronauts in 5-10 years time.
1:06:38 – Lessons learnt? Learning about self, lessons from other people finding how inspiring her journey has been to enable others to step outside of their comfort zone.
1:10:00 – Importance of the support of others and accountable failure.

Follow Tess’s
Twitter @astro_perform and @Perform_Science
YouTube Astro_Perform

To hear more inspirational people come to the Supporting Champions Conference 2019 – https://www.supportingchampions.co.uk/the-conference

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