Astronauts

(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.”

At Seattle’s World Fair: space was the place

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair — an event shaped by the Soviet Union’s launch of sputnik, President Eisenhower’s creation of NASA and President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon.

I’ve been working on a series of short radio pieces about the fair with public radio station KUOW and Jack Straw Productions and had lots of fun working on this piece we’ve titled “Space the Place,” which includes parts of my interview with astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, who attended the fair when she was 13 years old and already certain that she’d make her way into space.

Please give a listen and let me know what you think.

The project is funded by 4Culture in Seattle.