IRELAND’S adopted astronaut revealed last night how his favourite Irish pub helped lift his spirits during his toughest space mission yet.
NASA flight engineer Dan Tani, 47, whose mother Rose, 90, died during his marathon stint on board the international space station (ISS) earlier this year, said he is convinced he saw a high-powered beacon atop the White Lady hotel and pub in Kinsale, Co Cork — his wife Jane’s home town — as he peered through an ISS window as it sped at 27,700 km in orbit 315 kms above the south coast.
“It was just before Christmas, on one of the night passes over southern Ireland,” he said.
“There was this one time I was confident I saw a blinking light from the Kinsale area. The White Lady has a beacon on the roof, and I think it may have been that. I have many friends there and I’d told them I’d be looking for it.
“I saw it for about 10 seconds. It was cool, great fun. It feels real familiar and I thought of all my friends there.”
Dan is on holiday in Ireland with Jane, and their children, Keiko, who turns four in August, and Lily, two. They are staying with Jane’s family in Kinsale.
He captured the nation’s heart last October when he blasted off on board the shuttle Discovery.
His mission was due to end in December, but fuel gauge problems grounded the return shuttle and his mission was extended.
Tragically, Rose was killed in an accident on December 19.
“Life happens. Lots of people lose their parents and they have to deal with the grief of losing them,” he said. “But I was happy that she had a wonderful life story and being the centre of attention at the time, I was happy to be able to celebrate her life so publicly.”
Dan returned to earth on February 20 after 120 days in space.
He will visit several Cork schools promoting science over the coming days. He fielded dozens of questions and screened remarkable footage, taken from a camera mounted on his space helmet, on one of his space walks.
“Part of my job is to bring the experience of living in space to promote the space programme as both a national and world endeavour,” he said. “Being an astronaut is a great job and if I can inspire some children to study science, that’s great.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved