This is Laurel Clark as Mission Specialist, as a medical officer there for the Challenger... not Challenger, what am I saying? Columbia.
So, I want to explain to you something that happened with Rick (Husband), our Captain (Shuttle Commander) there, with coming in and feeling all the trauma.
I've seen anoxia. I know how it works. I used to work in the part of submarine team, medical specialist. And so, and often, all of us as flight crew, all the astronauts, all of them in the flying program, as well as all pilots, go through a program where we sit in a classroom and we are doing skills. And they (the instructors) are reducing the oxygen in the classroom. And as they reduce the oxygen, you think you're still doing the skill properly, when in fact, you're not doing the skill very well at all. And the next thing you know, you are...
Regina interrupts Laurel:
This is interesting. Wow, just a minute, let me deal with this. She (Laurel) wants to open her eyes and umm... There we go. (Regina keeping her eyes closed)
So anyway, as you're doing the oxygen, or reducing your oxygen in these classrooms, you are, every one of these students who are having this action happen to you, you're... you're proceeding through your tests. And at first, your tests are excellent, because you have plenty of oxygen. You know what you're doing. And they're really basic – they’re mathematics, they’re language, they’re reading, writing. They're all sorts of little tests that they're giving us. And each one (of us) has a beginning of a deprivation level of, if I can say that in just layman's terms, that we start becoming deficient at, when we start losing so much oxygen to our brain.
So, that's the way all of us learn that no matter how we think we are feeling, we may have our head on the ground, and we think we're just fine. We’ve fallen out of the chair. We don't even realize that we are oxygen deprived. And so, with anoxia, you know, that's... that's what it is. It's what you're doing. And that is what happened in the... the shuttle. We became oxygen deprived.
I, as a medical officer, of course, you say, just like when you get on an airplane and commercial airlines, they say, "If you are carrying a child with you, please put on your oxygen mask first, so that you can attend to the child afterwards."
So, I did my stuff, first. I got in as quickly as I could. But even at that I couldn't get it on, everything correctly before I begin to pass out. So, everybody, all of us were struggling with our equipment. And that was a shame. It was a shame because we were all thinking we were getting it on correctly. [giggles] We just... we didn't have it together. We could barely even get – well, we couldn't get our flight suits on, I mean our... our disaster suits, in preparations for this disaster. We couldn't get ourselves buckled in, we couldn't get our helmets locked in place. Just, there was so many mistakes that we did as individuals because we were oxygen deprived.
So it was, it was easy for us to just leave (our bodies) before we were destroyed. Because umm... really, there was only one individual who really stayed with the body. And he's going to come through later to tell you what that experience was. He was out of his body, but he stayed with it all the way. And he'll explain why. He's very excited to share that. So, I'm gonna let him talk. But anyway, I wanted to let you know that – that's the process with the oxygen deprivation.
So, we didn't suffer. We weren't suffering like the Challenger crew who were literally falling to their death. And experiencing their own voices, their own yelling, their screaming in their own head pieces. So, they have a whole different level of trauma than we had. And gratefully, so that they (the Challenger Crew) pulled us out, completely, and got us over to the other side quickly.
None of us stayed in the "astral plane," as they call it. And we learned this, these words now. I didn't have any clue about this before. KC really helped me out, teaching me different levels on which people exist on the other side. So that was pretty exciting. And for me, I'm a learner. I'm an avid learner. I just can't get enough. So, I just wanted to let you know that.
And, if this ever gets out – I... I do have a message for my husband (Jonathan Clark). I'm so grateful he was on the team that had to deal with the report for our disaster.
I'm grateful and I'm deeply, deeply saddened by what he had to experience and what he saw, and what he had to bring to light because nobody else wanted to admit it. And he had to bring to light of course, what... umm... (deep breath) I can't remember your name now. Well. what's his name? (frustrated) Sorry... said about the fact that they knew we weren't coming back.
And the... Oh, I'll try to be as brief as I can. That my husband had to discover the arrogance, even though he knew it because he was still a NASA, NASA medical specialist himself. Even though he knew that that was what ran the flight program – arrogance, greed and prosperity, and being "first." He really couldn't believe that they were still willing to take that risk with all of our lives by putting us up there, knowing full well, that these foam tiles have been popping off all along and we were in the oldest flight vehicle. Go figure, huh? The oldest one. And they were saying, "Don't worry about it. Don't worry about it. It's okay. We’ll… Don't worry about it."
Literally, we were patched together like Elmer’s Glue before our flight took off. And they knew it wasn't going to return as soon as they saw the chunk of tile that came off. They didn't want to admit it.
My husband showed them. He was irate, stampeded around and said, "How could they?" And he was not... They were trying to bury it in the report. And he wouldn't allow it. And I'm so grateful. So, I want to just put a... what they call a "shout out" to him and say, "Thank you, honey. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving me and taking care of me and the crew, and all those who come out after me."
How arrogant man has become, or continues to be, to continue to... to risk our lives as if we're just another monkey or dog or cat that they shoot up into space and see what kind of pieces they come to when they fall back in. So... anyway, that's mine.
Just to let you know, it's who I am. I'm Laurel. And thank you for this moment of time.
"Thank you dear (Jonathan) for... for loving me so much that you really got to the truth and forced them to put that truth into writing. I'm grateful, Honey, I really am. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
And thank you for this time, all of you for allowing me this moment. And – I'm good. I'm really good. Miss my family, but I'm good. Thank you.