astronauts, Piers Sellers, NASA

(11 April 1955 – 23 December 2016)

Piers Sellers OBE was a British-American meteorologist, and NASA astronaut.

Born in Crowborough in the UK, Sellers could not become an astronaut as a British Citizen and had to become a naturalised citizen of the United States in 1991. With a degree in ecological science, and a Ph.D in biometeorology he was a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions.

STS-112 on Space Shuttle Atlantis flew in October 2002. It was an International Space Station (ISS) assembly mission. Piers Sellers undertook three EVAs. Nearly 20 hours of space walks.

STS-121 launched in July 2006 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. Again it involved continued assembly of the ISS, and Sellers performed a further three EVAs covering another 20 hours.

STS-132 put Sellers back on Atlantis in May 2010. Sellers took a four inch piece of wood from the apple tree which reportedly inspired Sir Isaac Newton‘s theory of gravity on the mission. It is now part of the Royal Society archives in London.

When I asked if he had a particuar memory from his flightes to space, Sellers recalled the following:

“Looking down during a space walk my feet were tracking either side of a large river. Because of the bulk of the station in front of me I was not sure where I was, but it looked like it was the Amazon. Mission Control confirmed my suspicions and I took a minute or two to rest, all the while watching as my feet continued to glide either side of the river before it emptied out into the Atlantic. In my life before NASA I had spent many weeks working down there, and it made me appreciate how remarkable and unpredictable life is.”

Photographed at his home in Houston. October 2007.