It is an opportunity to live together as a family, improve communication, organize and do what we always want, he says.

Mexican-born astronaut José Hernández, who made history in 2009, traveling on a 14-day mission to the International Space Station via the shuttle Discovery, He said that a positive attitude, together with good communication and organization, can help us to cope with the isolation imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Without a real idea if this situation will last for a few weeks or months, we should be aware of how we can stay physically and mentally healthy through this terrible experience," said the astronaut who, during his trip to space, learned to live in confinement in an area comparable to two small rooms.

In a chat with The opinionHe listed some recommendations based on his experience as a NASA astronaut, so that isolation does not take its toll and control stress levels.

José Hernández was in isolation under the sea during his training as an astronaut. (Courtesy José Hernández)

Positive attitude

“Whenever you find yourself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, you should try to find a positive side.During our 18-month training program for our mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, requirements were constantly changing, creating additional work and frustration.

In expressing a slight protest, I clearly remember the words of my Commander CJ Sturckow: “Let it go, you have the privilege of going into space. Today we are privileged to spend more time with our spouse and other loved ones. "

Spending 14 days in a spacecraft reduced to two small rooms taught the astronaut José Hernández a lot. (Courtesy José Hernández)


“Being in confined and confined spaces can make your patience barometer more sensitive.

"At the expense of being called repetitive, I always found that repeating what the other party requests, not only helps me process and understand your request. This makes it much easier for both of you to recognize unreasonable requests.

“I learned this technique at NASA, while training in my flight engineer position on our mission. For example, when we returned from the mission to Edwards Air Force Base in California and approached runway 22 for a landing, I reminded our pilot Kevin Ford of the procedures: 'check the Iso valve extension of the extension Landing Gear – Open '. He immediately repeated, "Iso gear extension landing, thanks Jose, that valve is open."

“This simple comment allowed me to listen to what I said, and verify the procedures to make sure I had given him an accurate procedure.

"Putting this technique into practice, I am sure it will greatly reduce misunderstandings and eliminate unreasonable requests, thereby reducing conflict."

Astronauts can cope with confinement in space with a schedule that keeps them busy. (Courtesy José Hernández)

Create a schedule

"It is important to treat your day at home as if it were a work day. Creating this schedule allows you to track your own activities; and once finished, claim small victories.

“The schedule may include activities such as how long you will read your new favorite book for that day; when will you have an activity with one or more of their children; what day and how long will you mow the lawn; How long will you work on organizing the garage or when will you try that new recipe you always wanted.

“For example, my wife started remodeling our room before the Covid-19 outbreak. Now with the restrictions, I have been able to install new curtains, a lamp and a television. The room is too feminine for me, but you know the old saying: happy wife, happy life! ”

José Hernández knows what it's like to spend time in confinement with his NASA colleagues. (Courtesy José Hernández).

Bonding with family

“If this situation has given us something, it is the gift of time to spend with our loved ones. "Four of my five children are now home, and my wife and I could not be happier. You can never make up for time, so use these precious moments to create lifelong memories with your loved ones.

"Among the activities he can do are play board games, cook with different members of his family or do silly activities. I am participating in an activity with my daughter Vanessa, making appearances on her Tik Tok. They are very funny! although I know it will probably have repercussions when I decide to run for Congress. You can see them on the @Vanessa_ade TikTok ”.

Astronaut José Hernández says that this quarantine is an opportunity to do what we had always wanted and couldn't because of lack of time. (Courtesy José Hernandez)

Set goals

"This is probably the best time for you to sit down and write down your goals and start those activities that you have always wanted to do.; but you have never had the time, such as learning to play a new instrument.

"I am sure you can find beginner and intermediate courses online on almost any musical instrument."

"But also go out and get fresh air and exercise, take long walks with your pet, run or ride a bicycle, as long as you maintain social distance."

To travel to space, José Hernández had to learn to live in different conditions of isolation. (Courtesy José Hernández)


As a NASA astronaut, José had to train underwater for 15 consecutive days for the NASA Extreme Environment Mission (NEEMO); and during all his preparation to go to space, he spent weeks of confinement in the mountains, and in different extreme environmental conditions.

"I experienced quarantine for two weeks prior to my 14-day space mission to the International Space Station via space shuttle Discovery. ", He says.

He adds that this experience of living in confined spaces allowed him to find ways to adapt to isolation in small groups.


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