Astronaut to Watch Kentucky Derby From Space

Posted on: Nov 06, 2014

There are horse racing fans all over the world and for the 2015 Kentucky Derby there will be at least one fan from *out* of this world. Astronaut Terry Virts plans to watch the iconic race from outer space.

Virts is leaving later this month for a six month stint on the International Space Station. That means he’ll be roughly 17,000 miles above the earth’s surface on the first Saturday in May 2015 but that won’t keep him from watching the ‘Run for the Roses’. Virts said that there was a ’100% chance’ that he would tune in from the space station. He didn’t say if he was planning to run a wagering pool for the other astronauts at the International Space Station.

Turns out Virts is a longtime horseman: “I actually used to own horses in Maryland. I’m from Maryland originally, and I used to own a quarterhorse and an Appaloosa and so horse racing is near and dear to my heart. When I was stationed in Germany, we used to go ride the German warmblood horses. They’re very big, obviously, in dressage there in Germany and so it was pretty fun riding those animals. Those German horses were pretty big. It was a lot of fun to ride those.”

On a more serious note, Virts was asked about the crash of Virgin Galactic Space Ship 2 that claimed the life of its pilot. According to Virts, tragedies like this are an unfortunate but inevitable part of the job: “As a fighter pilot – and a test pilot by background – this is part of the business. It’s a tough and unfortunate part of the business, but it’s something that we know – from the beginning, you know if you’re gonna start a 20-30-40-year-long program, going into the future, you know that you’re going to have accidents occasionally. It’s a tough business. It’s a hard thing to get accelerated up to 17,500 miles an hour into the vacuum of space. ”

Despite the death, Virts is very optimistic about the future of space travel. He’ll travel to the space station on a Russian Soyuz capsule with two other astronauts.