Local woman applies for coveted spot
She didn’t see the movie “Gravity,” or “Apollo 13.” She stays away from “fake” space, and has had her eye on becoming an astronaut since as old as she can remember. Dr. Katie Pridemore, the assistant professor of mathematics at Florida Keys Community College, meets the height requirement and experience needed for the application, so after friends kept sending her the link saying, “Katie, this is you,” she grabbed a pack of her favorite freeze-dried astronaut ice cream and filled it out.
“It’s pretty crazy,” she said, checking with her job at FKCC to make sure she still has job security with her eight-in-6,000 chance of joining NASA in Houston. “I might not have a chance, but I have to try.”
Amber Ernst-Leonard at the college said her job was fine. Pridemore attended an engineering, science, and technology magnet school and highlights one of her favorite moments to speaking with actual space mission astronauts. “Being an astronaut has always been front in my mind,” the University of Central Florida Ph.D. said.
After watching the 1986 movie “Space Camp,” she begged her parents to send her to real Space Camp in Cape Canaveral, hoping she might accidently be sent up on a mission. She went to camp, but never made it on a mission – yet.
Pridemore not only meets the on-paper requirements, but the local endurance athlete is training for her first 12-mile Swim Around Key West in June, finished her first full marathon at SOMO is October, and has completed two Olympic-distance triathlons and eight half marathons. When she sets her mind to something, she accomplishes it. Her biggest accomplishment yet, run-streaking. She has successfully ran at least one mile every-single-day, through pneumonia and the flu recently, for the past 415 days and counting. “They have treadmills in space, I looked,” she said.
If selected, a move to Huston would be in her future. “My husband, Adam, asked me what would happen if I did get selected and never actually went to space,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind, I would learn so much and get to really put my math background to the test.”
When asking her three-and-a-half-year-old son Teddy about mom’s plans, he said he didn’t want to be an astronaut, just a pirate. She also has an 18-month-old girl, Jolene.
“My biggest concern would be being away from my family,” she said. “But, they are all very supportive of this dream of mine. And, going to space doesn’t scare me at all.”
Training would take about four years, in apparatuses nicknamed “The Vomit Comet,” before she would even see the option of going to space. “If NASA contacts you,” she said in a Facebook post, “please let them know how awesome I am, and that being an astronaut is seriously what I was meant to do.”
As for the astronaut ice cream, she just learned it’s not a real thing in “real” space.
-Pay Grade: $66,026 to $144,566/per year
-To date, more than 300 U.S. astronauts have flown on missions
-On the application: A key requirement is frequent travel may be required.
-Last year, woman make up 50 percent of the latest astronaut candidates for the first time in history. Beforehand, numbers were less than 35 percent.
“Today, more new human spacecraft are in development in the U.S. than at any time in history, and future Astronaut Candidates will have the opportunity to explore farther in space than humans have ever been.” –NASA application website