Astronaut and flight engineer Mike Barratt

Astronaut and flight engineer Mike Barratt runs a test on a satellite beacon — the blue object floating in front of him — in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station in 2009. (NASA)

Posted: May 24, 2017

You’re gazing continuously at one object, yet the view never gets old.

That’s one reason why Mike Barratt is hoping to return to space. He wants to see Earth from one of the best vantage points a person could have.

“It’s the thing everybody wants to go back and repeat: looking out the window at our home planet. You never get tired of it,” said Barratt, who was aboard the International Space Station in 2009 and 2011.

“I was able to do two spacewalks and would love to do more spacewalks,” he said. “That’s probably the holy grail.”

The Camas native now is a deputy chief in NASA’s Astronaut Office, but he’s still an active astronaut.

“They’re still keeping me current, and I’m flight eligible. I’m hoping to fly one more time,” said Barratt, who has spent 212 days in space.

At 58, Barratt is not out of the picture.

“Once you’re in, age isn’t what it used to be. We fly people into their early 60s, as long as they’re healthy and fit, and still flight eligible.”

Flight eligible means regular training sessions flying T-38 jets, remaining fluent in Russian and staying current on space station operations.

It also means spacewalk practice, which astronauts can do without leaving Houston. They train underwater, in the Johnson Space Center’s neutral buoyancy lab.

Barratt went through a training session a few weeks ago with fellow astronaut Anne McClain. Their session was designed to help astronauts on the space station prepare for an actual spacewalk — “Working out the kinks for the crew,” the 1977 Camas High grad said.

While it was a run-through, “It was about six hours of very intensive physical activity.”

Barratt’s last taste of actual weightlessness came during a 13-day space station stint that ended on March 9, 2011. That also was the final flight for space shuttle Discovery, as NASA phased out its shuttle fleet.

Read the full story in The Columbian.