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