Astronauts

Airline food that’s out of this world

When astronauts do a stint on the International Space Station they may request and bring along “bonus” snacks and meals for special occasions.

This summer, passengers departing on Lufthansa’s long-haul flights from Germany can “Eat like an astronaut” by ordering one of the dishes, Chicken Ragout with Mushrooms, that the airline’s kitchens prepared for German European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, who set out for the International Space Station (ISS) on June 6.

Keeping in mind the special requirements of space food – i.e. that it will be consumed in zero gravity – Lufthansa says its LSG Group Culinary Excellence Team worked with the European Space Agency to provide six special meals for Gerst and the Horizons mission.

“The collection includes typical dishes from the astronaut’s home region, Swabia, such as Maultaschen and Spätzle,” said Lufthansa in a statement, “In order to ensure that the meals fulfilled the specific health and safety requirements of the mission, the LSG Group team designed them as low sodium and able to maintain a shelf life of two years.”

Not flying Lufthansa this summer? Through late October, the business premier menu on Air New Zealand flights from Los Angeles to Auckland will include the popular vegetarian hamburger called the Impossible Burger.

Courtesy Air New Zealand

“Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants,” notes ANZ, “The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever.”

Sounds like space food to me.

Ohio astronomy park honors astronaut John Glenn

I’ve spent the last week chatting with astronauts and other whip smart folks who work for NASA and its international equivalents on the shakedown cruise for the new Viking Orion ocean ship that boasts retired astronaut Anna Fisher as its godmother.

Fisher was able to invite about 100 of her friends on board this cruise and I was among a small group of incredibly fortunate journalists to tag along for the adventure.

In a panel and in one-on-one chats many of the more than two dozen current and former astronauts on board shared stories about being in space and, throughout the cruise, astronauts and non-astronauts alike had a chance to check out the skies from the ship’s decks and in its high-tech planetarium.

Today I leave the ship and all the astronauts behind and fly home on an airplane – not a rocket ship. But I’ve got my eyes on the skies and I’m pleased to learn that on Thursday, June 21 – just in time for the summer solstice – a new astronomy park honoring super-hero astronaut and Ohio native John Glenn will open in rural Logan, Ohio, about forty miles southeast of Columbus.

Courtesy NASA

The John Glenn Astronomy Park (JGAP) will not only allows visitors to explore the night sky, but it will also offers daytime study with a  Solar Plaza to study the Sun, Earth and the North Celestial Pole, among other celestial features. The 80-foot in diameter Solar Plaza highlights the Sun’s orientation to the Earth as it changes throughout the year and is encircled by a low wall with notches offering framed views of the Sun on key days.  The new park also has an enclosed 540-square-foot observatory with a retractable roof  to  permit night sky viewing.

(All photos courtesy of the John Glenn Astronomy Park, except for photo of John Glenn, which is courtesy of NASA and the  planetarium photo, which is courtesy of Viking Cruises).

 

(Still) Cruising with astronauts

I’m almost at the end of a special shakedown cruise on the Viking Orion, a new ocean ship in the Viking Cruise line family that has as its godmother former astronaut -Anna Fisher,  who was the first mother in space.

As godmother for the ship, Fisher was able to invite many friends and former co-workers along for the cruise from Rome to Barcelona, and many of those friends and former co-works are astronauts.

I’ve been conducting short interviews this week with some of the astronauts on board and last night a panel of (just) 14 of the astronauts on the ship gathered for a panel moderated by Lynn Sherr, who wrote  SALLY RIDE: America’s First Woman in Space and who you may know from her many years on TV, including 20 years as part of the ABC Newsmagazine 20/20.

Pictured: Paolo Nespoli, Charles (Charlie) Walker, Anna Fisher, Richard Linnehan, Jean François Clervoy, Dominic (Tony) Antonelli, John Fabian, Lynn Sherr (moderator), Brewster Shaw, Woody Spring, Nicole Stott, Jay Honeycutt,Mike McCulley, Jon McBride, Barbara Morgan, Rick Hauck.  (Richard Richards joined the group at the end and is not pictured here).

The topics discussed were wide-ranging: everything from what it was like to be out there in space looking back at earth to some fun stuff about the cool part of being weightless: “You can put your pants on two feet at a time,” said John Fabian, who joked that today one or two of the former astronauts might have trouble putting their pants on just one leg at at time.

The panelists also talked about what they do now to encourage others to support space exploration and shared their opinions on ‘space tourism’ (mostly thumbs up).  Several astronauts also gave their stamp of approval to some movies they say got space pretty darn right, including Apollo 13, The Martian, Interstellar and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

My interviews with astronauts have covered other subjects, including their tips for travelers here on earth, their memories of their first airplane rides (and how that may have influenced their choice of profession) and even their stories about the food they ate in space.  I’ll share some of those stories in the next few days.

Astronauts invade Seattle

MUSEUM OF FLIHGT PReiquam_SpaceTourist

Peter Reiquam – Space Tourist

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Seattle’s Museum of Flight has placed 25 life-size, space-suited astronaut statues around town. Each statue began as a white fiberglass statue and was then transformed by a local artist into something new.

David Newman and Ruth Cieol_SpaceSquatch

SpaceSquatch Explores the Pacific Northwest – by David Newman and Ruth Cielo

The museum is encouraging locals and visitors to find astronauts around town, take selfies and post them on Instagram (tag: #astronautsonthetown) for a chance to win a pair of tickets on Alaska Airlines, good to any Alaska Airlines destination.

The statutes will be in town through mid-September, but an on-line auction for all 25 astronauts runs throughout August – in case you want an arty-astronaut for your home or office.

Here’s a link to a gallery featuring images of all statues in the Astronauts around Town project.

Scott_HappyConstellations

Happy Concstellations -by Fin’es Scott

50th anniversary of first spacewalks

Air and Space

Expedition 35 Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy (pictured) and Tom Marshburn (out of frame) completed a spacewalk on May 11, 2013, to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalks in 1965, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC is launching a new exhibition, “Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extravehicular Activity.

The exhibit runs from January 8 through June 8, 2015 and includes artifacts, personal accounts and photographs, including the impressive images shared here.

The first spacewalks were taken by Aleksei Leonov (on March 18, 1965) and Edward White (June 3, 1965) in the spring of 1965 and, since then, more than 200 astronauts and cosmonauts have logged more than 1,000 hours walking and working outside spacecraft.

According to a NASA story on spacewalking, when ordered to climb back inside the Gemini spacecraft in 1965, Ed White, America’s first spacewalker said it was “the saddest moment of my life.”

White had spent more than half an hour floating freely in space.

NASA reports that some astronauts liken walking in space to being underwater. And astronaut John Herrington, veteran of three spacewalks totaling almost 20 on the STS-113 mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, pointed out that the simulated trained he received didn’t prepare him for the smell of space. Astronauts say the burnt metal smell of space lingers on spacesuits after they come inside.

space walking

The gloves were constructed of an outer shell of Chromel-R fabric with thermal insulation to provide protection while handling extremely hot or cold objects. The blue fingertips were made of silicone rubber to provide sensitivity. Credit: National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

According to the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, “EVA changed the nature of human spaceflight. It made possible walking on the Moon, servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, and building the International Space Station [and] remains crucial to our ongoing presence in space.”