A 1994 graduate of Mellon College of Science, de Vries’ self-proclaimed obsession with aerospace aviation began in his childhood. He looked at all the books on rockets, airplanes, and spaceships – past, present, and future – that he could. He is trained to fly his own single engine aircraft.
âAt Carnegie Mellon and Mellon College of Science, we prepare and encourage our students to pursue their biggest dreams, even if those dreams seem impossible. We instill in them the belief that they need to be ready for jobs and opportunities that probably aren’t. even still exist, âsaid Rebecca W. Doerge, Dean Glen de Vries of Mellon College of Science. âGlen is a shining example of how CMU students and alumni impact the world and beyond with their passion and determination. All of Glen’s experiences have led him to achieve his greatest dream. We are so proud of Glen for his accomplishments and for being such a great role model for our students. “
After his time off the planet, de Vries shared his experience in the following Q&A.
Q: Driving into the rocket with Jeff Bezos at the wheel must have been a surreal moment. What’s on the playlist for this ride?
from Vries: Having Jeff with us was special. Jeff is a guy who really cares about this problem – how we get people in space to do good things for Earth. This is the Blue Origin mission. Earth will always be there no matter what humans do. The question is, will this be the Earth we know and love? Bezos devoted a large part of his life to it. He paved the way, metaphorically, for us to have that experience. So it was interesting and awesome to see him literally driving us down the sidewalk to our vehicle.
But no, there was no music in the car! Invoice [William Shatner], Audrey [Powers], Chris [Boshuizen] and i spent a lot of time together during the week and i was just chatting with jeff. It wasn’t like we were jamming on “Rocket Man” or anything like that.
Q: Before we boarded New Shepherd, there was a little ceremony. What exactly happened there?
from Vries: We rang a ceremonial bell before boarding. Above the bell it says “Let’s light this candle”, that’s what Alan Shepard [the first American to fly in space] said before his flight, so it was a quick and final celebration of the mission before boarding. It made me feel very much like an astronaut. Is that a word?
Q: It’s now! How does it feel to hear a countdown from 10 … while sitting inside a rocket?
from Vries: I remember it was really punchy when the countdown went from 10 minutes to nine minutes 59 seconds. A number came out and my arousal level definitely went up a notch. When it went from one minute to 59 seconds my arousal level jumped and when it went down to 10 seconds …
I have a feeling that those 10 seconds did not last the normal time that 10 seconds should. Honestly, this was the first time I realized, âWow, you really have to make sure you take as much as possible because it’s really happening. I thought of a photo my mother found, that old photo of me launching a model rocket. I don’t know how old I was, less than 10 years old. It was in my head. I’m on the rocket, I’m not looking at the rocket. It’s a real rocket. Not a model rocket.
Q: So how was the view?
from Vries: Imagine, this window is just black. I mean just infinite black. You don’t really see the stars in space during the day because the sun is reflecting so brightly off the Earth. And touching infinity, it is the Earth, which I oriented at the top of the window, and we could see this little blue line of the atmosphere. You see the Earth in incredibly vivid colors: blue, white, yellow, brown, and green. There is such a contrast between Earth and space and this line where we all live in between is woefully small. I know climate change is a huge problem, but the point of view is surprisingly clear: if we really want the Earth to be beautiful in the way we humans can live and enjoy it, we have to start thinking about it. urgently to the preservation of the environment.