Connor Johnson, a six-year-old from Colorado, has long dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Now, he is on a mission to save NASA. He launched a petition on the White House website to gain support for the program and has received thousands of signatures. Since the petition has gained national attention, he’s received all kinds of calls and messages from people. This week, however, he got a very special call — from astronaut Gene Cernan. Cernan was the last American to walk on the moon 41 years ago, and when he heard about Connor’s determination to go to space, he wanted to do anything he could to keep that inspiration alive.
Cernan says he sees Connor in himself, and had big dreams of his own when he was Connor’s age. He told Connor that to go to space in the future, “you’ve got to dream about things that a lot of other people think you can’t do.” He also told Connor to “take us back to the moon, take us to Mars, and just remember I will always be with you on every trip you take.” Pass the tissues, please! [USA Today]
Remember that awesome astronaut Cady Coleman, who chatted with Sandra Bullock from the International Space Station to help her prepare for her starring role in the upcoming movie, “Gravity”? She’s back on Earth now, and got the chance to meet her movie star mentee in person. In this joint interview, Bullock talks about what she learned from their conversations, and Coleman discusses how her choice to have long, thick hair in space was much more than just a fashion statement. “I had bigger hair up there,” Coleman explains. “I let it grow because I wanted it to scream ‘Zero G, there is a woman in space,’ for these girls.” Hear, hear! Check out the video above to see Coleman and Bullock’s sweet rapport, as well as some great shots from Coleman’s stay on the Space Station. [The Mary Sue]
Do you spend all of your free time lounging in bed? Have you always wanted to be an astronaut but are afraid of heights? Would you like to use your formidable napping skills to serve your country? Oh boy, does NASA have a job for you! The space exploration agency is planning a study to measure the effects of microgravity on the human body, and their methods are shockingly relaxing: they need people to lie in bed for 70 days. During this period, research subjects are welcome to read, sleep, play games, watch movies, videochat with friends, and even work remotely. They will be paid $18,000 for their time. The catch? You really, truly can’t leave the bed for the entirety of the study, and your mattress will be tilted head-down at a six-degree angle. That angle might not seem like a big deal, but it’s enough to shift your bodily fluids to the upper parts of your body and cause a cardiovascular reaction similar to what non-bedridden astronauts experience in space.
Think you’re up for the challenge? You’ll need to undergo a full Air Force physical and comprehensive psychological examination. “We want to make sure we select people who are mentally ready to spend 70 days in bed,” senior scientist Dr. Roni Cromwell told Forbes, seemingly unaware of the existence of Netflix. “Not every type of person can tolerate an extended time in bed.” If you believe your lounging skills are up to NASA’s standards, you can apply here. Godspeed. [Outside] [Photo of woman in bed via Shutterstock]
“We talked on the phone for that one long time, which was certainly a nice morale thing for me. I’m up there on the station with five guys and to get to talk to somebody who, even instantly on the phone, is so personable, it was like talking to a girlfriend.”
–NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman tells the website collectSPACE that her chat with Sandra Bullock to help her prep for her role in the I-can-barely-watch-the-trailer-without-having-a-panic-attack movie “Gravity” was downright delightful. Coleman and Bullock were actually put in touch through their siblings, who knew each other through the restaurant business (10 points for good old fashioned networking!). Bullock needed advice on how to convincingly play an astronaut, Coleman was in the middle of a 5-month stay on the International Space Station: voila, a friendly actress/astronaut correspondence was born. Coleman doesn’t even mind that the movie explores the worst case scenario of her job, adding, “The fact that it highlights the real people, including women — smart, strong women that go to space and live up there and work up there — the fact that it would bring attention to that, I think is a valuable thing.” I agree. Which is why I’ll be popping a Xanax and forcing myself to go see it. [Jezebel]
We are gathered here today to honor and pay our respects to Frog, the victim of NASA’s recent rocket launch. While Frog’s dramatic mode of passing may have produced an undeniably humorous photo, we realize that getting blasted 40 feet into the air by a rocket is not particularly pleasant for any species, and therefore we must temper our laughter and internet memes with a bit of somber reflection upon Frog’s life.
Born a tadpole near NASA’s Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, Frog went through an awkward phase as a froglet (didn’t we all?) before finally reaching adulthood. Frog enjoyed leisurely evening swims, catching flies, and was never one to turn down a juicy worm. Frog was also an avid fisherman. Friends of Frog will never forget the largemouth bass incident of 2011 — you might say Frog had a tendency to bite off a little more than he could chew!
Frog was an active member of a local chorus, singing baritone and gaining a certain degree of notoriety around the pond for soulful solo croaks. Sigh. One thing’s for sure: the launch pad pool will be a much quieter place in the days to come. Keep reading »
Apparently in 1962, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (that’s NASA) had no interest in sending women into space. They were also pretty sure that they would never need such a ridiculous program. Ladies! In space! LOL! Check out this letter, which says, “We have no existing program concerning woman astronauts nor do we contemplate any such plan.” The level of certainty with which NASA assured this applicant that they had no need for female astronauts must be more than a little embarrassing to look back on. Keep reading »
One small step for women, one giant leap for womenkind! That’s right, four of the eight new astronauts selected by NASA are women. Being the first new recruits in four years, the eight astronauts will join fellow NASA folk at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston. The ladies are Christina Hammock, 34; Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35; Anne McClain, 34, and Jessica Meir PhD, 35. Together they comprise the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates that NASA has ever selected! In 1998, there had been four women in the astronaut candidate class, but they only counted for 16 percent of the 25-member class. Keep reading »
A couple weeks ago, we brought you the crazy story of Kiera Wilmot, a 16-year-old student in Florida whose ill-fated science experiment got her arrested and charged with a felony. Wilmot was set to be tried as an adult in Florida’s notoriously tough court system, but thanks to a public backlash and internet campaign, she was able to get a lawyer who represented her for almost no charge and the state of Florida finally dropped the charges against her on Wednesday. But the good news doesn’t stop there… Keep reading »
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has been entertaining and educating all of us here on Earth with awesome YouTube videos and tweets during his five-month stay aboard the International Space Station. He returns to Earth today, but he made sure to leave us with a bittersweet farewell that is also the first music video ever recorded in space. As he tweeted yesterday: “With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.” [YouTube]
It’s hard out there for a Mars rover. Day after day, these dutiful little robots drive around the barren surface of the red planet collecting data to send back to their bosses relaxing at the warm, cozy NASA offices 40 million miles away. Do you really blame one of them for getting a bit, umm, creative with the shape of its tire marks? [Reddit via Huffpo]