The infamous dunker is many would-be astronauts' first introduction to commercial spaceflight training. And, as Brien explains, it's a doozy.
Brien has taken plenty of parabolic flights aboard the "vomit comet" by now, but there were plenty of things he was unprepared for when he first started his spaceflight training.
To replicate true zero gravity conditions without actually going to space, would-be astronauts usually have to take parabolic flight. But sometimes, as Brien explains, they have to go in the opposite direction.
In his quest to become a commercial astronaut, Brien has been through disaster simulations ranging from oxygen deprivation to emergency water landings. But none of that beats this.
A STEM degree and a decent level of physical fitness are obvious requirements. But it might not hurt to be a scuba-diving and roller-coaster junkie on top of that, too.
Decompression and the resulting hypoxia are the worst-case scenarios of spaceflight. Here's why.
Spacesuits are heavy, claustrophobic and hot -- an uncomfortable combination for many would-be astronauts. Here's how Brien came around to the idea of wearing one.
The most perilous moments in a spaceflight can happen after the landing.
Space is a very unforgiving environment, and it's critical to use the correct procedures when emergencies occur. That's a big part of why aerobatic flight is so important.
Commercial space training isn't all about research. Sometimes -- especially when the gravity is out -- the crew gets to cut loose.
Surprisingly, the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown has hardly slowed down the space training process for Brien. In fact, it has accelerated it.
Between zero gravity and the cumbersome spacesuit, everyday IT tasks -- like connecting some power and data cables -- suddenly become a lot more complicated.
For an astronaut in training, parachuting out of a disabled spacecraft ranks high on the list of skills you hopefully never have to use in real life.
Lots of things can go wrong during a commercial spaceflight -- especially once your capsule leaves space. An unplanned ocean landing is just one of those worst-case scenarios.
Brien's lunar training often puts him in situations where gravity, as we Earthlings know it, doesn't exist.