Astronauts have great stories. So do scientists. 

And three former astronauts and two scientists will join USA TODAY’s Storytellers Project to tell true, first-person stories about fighting loneliness and creating connection — even from space — on Oct. 21. 

When Emmanuel Urquieta, a self-described space geek, was working as a researcher, he had no way of knowing his job was preparing him for the pandemic. Urquieta is a mission specialist and was a test subject in a simulated mission to Mars in 2016. 

“I encountered myself in a similar scenario and I evolved and learned how to cope with situations like these,” said Urquieta, deputy chief scientist at the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, a NASA partner organization based in Houston..

Astronauts Nicole Stott, Leland Melvin, Anousheh Ansari and Ron Garan speak during the Constellation event on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo: Emre Kelly / FLORIDA TODAY)

Urquieta will talk about his personal journey on the show, including how the isolation made him a better friend, dad and husband. 

“I want to share my experience and recommendations to folks that might feel isolated and confined these days,” Urquieta said.

The show will stream live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the Storytellers’ Facebook page, YouTube channel and website, where people can register in advance to watch.

During the show, Urquieta, 35, of Sugar Land, Texas, will be joined by:

  • Astronaut David Carl Hilmers, 70, of Houston, Texas. 
  • Astronaut Nicole Stott, 57, of St. Petersburg, Florida.
  • Astronaut Cady Coleman, 59, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

And Dorit Donoviel, director of Translational Research Institute for Space Health, will participate in a Q&A with emcee Megan Finnerty, founder and director of the Storytellers Project, part of the USA TODAY Network.