Flying To Mars From New York City

The first astronauts are landing on Mars this week. . .at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.

Installation artist Tom Sachs is running his “SPACE PROGRAM: MARS,” a four-week spaceflight involving a crew of actors and elaborate sets made from common materials bought in a hardware store. The sets cover every detail of the mission including getting into space suits, provisions of food and launching Mars rovers.

There will be several liftoffs so visitors don’t miss one of the most popular parts of any space mission.

As this preview clip shows, Tom Sachs isn’t about to put NASA out of business. I kind of like the hokeyness of the whole thing, though. It gives the exhibition a childlike feel that brings back all those fond ’80s memories of watching the Space Shuttle missions. Tom Sachs has tapped into the fact that we all got inspired by space when we were kids, and many of us still look to the stars and planets with a childlike sense of wonder.

Tom Sachs’ “SPACE PROGRAM: MARS” runs from May 16 to June 17.

Dutch Astronaut Tweets Photos From International Space Station

Photos from the International Space StationOne of the joys of travel is taking great photographs of the places we visit and sharing them with friends and family back home. In the age of mobile Internet access, and services like Instagram and Twitter, it is easier than ever to chronicle our journeys through photos no matter where we are at any given time.

That includes the International Space Station it seems as Dutch astronaut André Kuipers has been sending a steady stream of images back to Earth since he first arrived there in December. André snaps photos with his trusty camera then uses Twitter to share those images with the more than 215,000 people who follow him. As you would expect, the photographs are often stunning shots of the Earth, the ISS or some other heavenly body.

This is the 53-year old physician’s second trip to the space station where he conducts experiments in a wide range of fields including microbiology and physiology. He is scheduled to remain in orbit until July 1st, so until then we can all continue to enjoy his fantastic photos by following him at @astro_andre. You can also read his blog, which he updates regularly as well, by clicking here.

Both images in this post are courtesy of Kuipers. The one above is of the moon setting behind the Earth while the one below is the ISS over Europe. Both are beautiful.

Photos from the International Space Station

First woman in space turns 75

woman in space Valentina TereshkovaLast week, Russia marked the 75th birthday of Russian space pioneer Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. In 1963, Tereshkova orbited the earth 48 times in three days, logging more flight time than all the previous American astronauts combined, and becoming the first and only woman to travel solo in space. Before launching into space, Tereshkova exclaimed, “Hey, sky, take your hat off!” The US space program would not send a woman into space for another 20 years, when Sally Ride flew as a crew member on the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Tereshkova later married another cosmonaut, held several of the highest offices in the Soviet Union, and is revered as a hero among women and Russians. Inspired by Ms. Tereshkova? You can go inside the Russian space program this fall for a cool $14,000.

[Photo courtesy Martin Addison via Wikimedia Commons]

Video of the Day: Making tacos in space

Preparing your own meals while on the road can be tough. You don’t always have a proper kitchen stocked with all of the tools and appliances that you need. Ingredients can be difficult to find. Still, at least we always have gravity to help us out. Not so for astronauts. When it’s dinner time, they have to assemble their tacos in zero gravity. The last thing that anybody wants is refried beans in the ventilation system. Think of this guy and his space taco the next time you want to complain that the kitchen in your RV is too cramped.

NASA is looking for new astronauts!

NASA is hiring new astronautsAnyone who has ever dreamed of going into space received a glimmer of hope this past week when NASA announced that they were looking for their next class of astronauts. This high profile “help wanted” ad had the dual effect of sending many of us scrambling to update our resumes, while simultaneously regressing to a point in our lives when we actually believed we could still grow-up to be an astronaut.

The actual job posting can be found online by clicking here. It provides plenty of great information for those wanting to know the details about the requirements and perks of the position. For example, the salary ranges from $64,724 to $141,715 per year, which is a bit surprising, because many of us would probably actually pay that much for an opportunity to go into orbit. The position is listed as Full Time and Permanent, but would require a move to Houston, which is probably the biggest downside of the job.

As you might expect, the position requires at least a Bachelor’s degree and three years of experience in your field, which can include technology, nursing, aviation, amongst others. Candidates will be required to pass a physical as well, and must have vision that is correctable to 20/20 in each eye. They also need to be between the heights of 62 and 75 inches, which will rule out most NBA players who are looking to pick up supplemental work during the lock-out.

The job listing also notes that prior to being hired candidates must undergo a background check and pass a drug-test as well. After all, NASA isn’t going to turn over multi-million dollar equipment to just anyone. They also note that frequent travel is required, but considering that travel involves going into space, I doubt anyone will really complain all that much. How many frequent filer miles is a trip to the International Space Station worth anyway?

When I was a kid, being an astronaut ranked right up there with ice cream taster and James Bond as the best jobs on the planet. For some reason I thought the career path to getting that job would be different than simply filling out an application and going in for an interview. Turns out, NASA hires people just in the same manner as Walmart.

For more information on the position and the application process, click here. Good luck to everyone who applies. You’re going to need it, because I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek ever and have visited the local planetarium twice.