The stars don't look bigger, but they do look brighter.
All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.
We can see cities during the day and at night, and we can watch rivers dump sediment into the ocean, and see hurricanes form.
The view of Earth is spectacular.
I felt very honored, and I knew that people would be watching very closely, and I felt it was very, very important that I do a good job.
It takes a few years to prepare for a space mission.
Even though NASA tries to simulate launch, and we practice in simulators, it's not the same - it's not even close to the same.
So most astronauts getting ready to lift off are excited and very anxious and worried about that explosion - because if something goes wrong in the first seconds of launch, there's not very much you can do.
It takes a couple of years just to get the background and knowledge that you need before you can go into detailed training for your mission.
I don't have any nicknames.
I didn't really decide that I wanted to be an astronaut for sure until the end of college.
Once you are assigned to a flight, the whole crew is assigned at the same time, and then that crew trains together for a whole year to prepare for that flight.
The pressure suit helps if something goes wrong during launch or re-entry - astronauts have a way to parachute off the shuttle. The suits protect you from loss of pressure in case of emergency.
Yes, I did feel a special responsibility to be the first American woman in space.
Because I was a tennis player, Billie Jean King was a hero of mine.
Different astronauts sleep in different ways.
So most astronauts are astronauts for a couple of years before they are assigned to a flight.
So I decided on science when I was in college.
On both of my flights, everything went very well.
No, I think most astronauts recognize that the space shuttle program is very high-risk, and are prepared for accidents.
The space shuttle is a better and safer rocket than it was before the Challenger accident.
The food isn't too bad. It's very different from the food that the astronauts ate in the very early days of the space program.
I was always very interested in science, and I knew that for me, science was a better long-term career than tennis.
So I saw many planets, and they looked just a little bit brighter than they do from Earth.
I liked math - that was my favorite subject - and I was very interested in astronomy and in physical science.
The astronauts who came in with me in my astronaut class - my class had 29 men and 6 women - those men were all very used to working with women.
I do a lot of running and hiking, and I also collect stamps - space stamps and Olympics stamps.
On a standard space shuttle crew, two of the astronauts have a test pilot background - the commander and the pilot.
Some astronauts sleep in sort of beds - compartments that you can open up and crawl into and then close up, almost like a little bedroom.
But when I wasn't working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.
I had both male and female heroes.
When you're getting ready to launch into space, you're sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.
I slept just floating in the middle of the flight deck, the upper deck of the space shuttle.
Then during the mission itself, I used the space shuttle's robot arm to release a satellite into orbit.
It's easy to sleep floating around - it's very comfortable.
But you have to be careful that you don't float into somebody or something!
After the Challenger accident, NASA put in a lot of time to improve the safety of the space shuttle to fix the things that had gone wrong.
But even in elementary school and junior high, I was very interested in space and in the space program.
Well, we spend an awful lot of our time working and doing experiments.
It's very busy up on the shuttle.
NASA has to approve whatever we wear, so there are clothes to choose from, like space shorts - we wear those a lot - and NASA T-shirts.
My background is in physics, so I was the mission specialist, who is sort of like the flight engineer on an airplane.
The most anxious time was during launch, just because that is so dramatic.
For quite some time, women at NASA only had scientific backgrounds.