There’s bold and then there’s Ulyana Horodyskyj.
By age 23, the Padua Franciscan High School graduate had already traveled to all seven continents. She’s conquered Earth’s tallest mountain, subzero temperatures in Antarctica and even hiked another 19,341 feet on Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro.
But it was the tiniest of spaces that may have been the most challenging — 30 days locked inside a 636-square-foot pod with three others as part of NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog project. In October 2016, Horodyskyj served as mission commander of the isolation experiment at Johnson Space Center in Houston, which studied human behavior for future long-duration space missions.
“Sometimes you would get that sense that on the other side of the door it was really space,” says Horodyskyj, who appeared on Cleveland Magazine’s February 2003 “Big Ideas” cover. “They did a really good job at making it seem authentic.”
Horodyskyj also runs Science in the Wild, a travel company that designs, charters and guides explorational trips to places like Nepal and the Arctic for an authentic scientific experience. “For the everyday person, the citizen who doesn’t have a science background, these trips are for them,” she says.
One of 120 semifinalist for NASA’s 2017 astronaut class, the 31-year-old credits her Cleveland upbringing as the catalyst for her adventurous career. “I got my launch as a scientist at a very young age,” says Horodyskyj.