I'll be answering your questions from 3-4 p.m. EDT Monday, June 9. I’ve had the privilege of working and living in space for 166 days, most recently returning to Earth March 10, 2014. During my stay aboard the International Space Station, I had the opportunity to conduct hundreds of hours of valuable scientific research in areas including human physiology, medicine, physical science, Earth science and astrophysics. I also conducted two spacewalks with my NASA colleague Rick Mastracchio, totaling 12 hours and 58 minutes. As a lifelong fitness enthusiast, I also used the unique environment of space to share several of my in-orbit workouts on social media. Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/NASA/status/476061417989472257

Update, 4:00pm EDT: That's all the time I have today. I'm sorry I couldn't get to all your questions. Thanks for asking some good questions. I hope you will keep following along with my colleagues currently up on the station. Daily updates, images, and videos are posted at http://www.nasa.gov/station.

Comments: 1906 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

kotooni1029 karma

What was something that really surprised you about space?

NASAastronauts2475 karma

Space has a smell. And I don't mean inside the space station.

When a visiting vehicle docks with the space station, there is 'space' between the two vehicles. Once the pressure is equalized and the hatch is opened, you have this metallic ionization-type smell. It's quite unique and very distinct.

ticcev734 karma

Can you describe what it was like to exit the hatch on your first spacewalk?

NASAastronauts1459 karma

It really does take your breath away. You open that hatch and you look at the Earth -- it's one of those times in your life that you will remember forever. I had a ball of emotions -- nervous, excited, intense, focused -- you have a job to do and you have to contain your emotions to get the job done. Fortunately, we spend a lot of time training and the training kicks in so we can go out, get the job done, and come back safely.

HeyItsWilliam728 karma

What's your least favourite thing about space?

NASAastronauts1232 karma

The easy answer is that you miss your family and being with them. There's not something that's really at the top of the list of things you miss in space. It's the little things you miss often. Fresh fruit. The ability to take a shower. It's the little things that take some getting used to.

VinnyPel2ella613 karma

What is it like being launched into space?

NASAastronauts1167 karma

It's quite a thrill. It's a bit of a relief, too. You spend 2 and a half years building up to this point. There's a always a chance you might not get to go. You might get injured, you might get sick, you may not do well on a phase of the training and be replaced. So when we finally launch, it's a sense of relief to finally be going.

lumpyspice578 karma

how hard is it getting used to being back on earth with gravity all the time?

NASAastronauts974 karma

It's heavy -- so it's hard. The human body adapts pretty quickly to changes like that, so within a few days I was feeling much better and within a few weeks I wasn't noticing any impacts.

AutoBond537 karma

During your 6 months of service, did you ever find yourself saying, "Man... where's Sandra Bullock when you Need her...?"

NASAastronauts1109 karma

We've often been asked a lot about the movie Gravity. And one of our responses still is that we haven't seen Sandra up here and we'll continue to look.

egallyg472 karma

What was your favorite space food?

NASAastronauts775 karma

Beef enchiladas. I was also a fan of apricot cobbler.

TW3ET443 karma

After spending time in space, do you think it'd be possible to live full time in space in the near future?

NASAastronauts757 karma

Good question. Unless I could take my family with me (and I'm quite confident that my wife doesn't want to go), I wouldn't want to live permanently in space. Earth is a good place to be.

rkd1312392 karma

I know that you are a huge fitness buff. How much did your lifts go up while working out on the ISS?

NASAastronauts636 karma

The weights you use for things like squats actually goes up, since you aren't lifting your body weight. So you have to add that to your lifts in space.

Interestingly, in testing before and after spending time in space, I squat roughly the same. So the regimen is important to maintain that.

GoUSAGo350 karma

Did you dream while sleeping aboard ISS? Do you now have dreams about being in space or zero g(microgravity)?

NASAastronauts684 karma

Yes, you dream while you sleep. I don't generally remember my dreams on Earth, and I don't remember my dreams in space. I do know I dream about being on ISS now, even when I'm awake.

JoshuaCarroll349 karma

Mike, when you were doing a workout in space, what would happen to your sweat? Obviously it didn't roll into your eyes. Did it float away from you off of your face?

NASAastronauts581 karma

That's a really good question. The sweat actually sticks to you. It pools on your arms and head. It can pool and get in your eyes, too. If you are running, it does fling off onto the walls and stuff, and then you are cleaning the walls around you. So you have to towel off often to keep it under control.

The interesting part is that the sweat does go into the condensate system that gets recycled. Eventually after the towels dry off and the water is recycled, it becomes drinking water.

Myrdraall257 karma

Were you as excited to come back as you were to go? How is life in the ISS and does it "get old", cramped and limiting at some point or is it a super adventure day in and day out?

NASAastronauts446 karma

Was I excited to come back? Yes. It's always nice to come home. You certainly are a little sad to be leaving the space station.

But yes -- everyday is amazing and an adventure. You pinch yourself every day to make sure you are really there and not in a dream.

Mr_Optimistic_Man233 karma

What was your favorite part of you're six months on the space station?

NASAastronauts424 karma

Certainly the spacewalks are something that really stand out and something I enjoyed doing. But really, I enjoyed every day that I was up there because floating was a lot of fun.

Agenal220 karma

Hi, Mike!

I saw that you were selected for the astronaut program in 2009. At that time, they still flew the Shuttle. Did you know at the time, that the shuttle would be retired a few years later and that you'd have to fly on the Soyuz?

How much of your training was in Russia, and how long did it take you to get comfortable with the Russian language?

Basically, what I'm wondering about, is, how was it transitioning from American training into a Russian training and launch environment?

I know that most of the Shuttle astronauts that flew missions to ISS had some training in Russia, too, in case they had to fly the Soyuz as a rescue ship to get home, but, yeah.


NASAastronauts308 karma

We knew during our interview process and before we finished our basic training that the shuttle would be retiring and we wouldn't be flying on it. We knew our missions would be the long duration missions flying on the ISS.

I'm still not comfortable with the Russian language, but my Russian skills are strong enough that I could safely launch, land and communicate with my Russian colleagues. I spent about 35 weeks training in Russia. That training is integrated with the US, Japanese, and European training which is integrated into a single plan that gets you to launch day and life on the ISS.

suniro174 karma

What kind of medical procedures do you learn in your training? How can you perform CPR on the ISS?

NASAastronauts269 karma

You can perform CPR on the ISS. We have a defibrillator on board as well. We also have learned to draw our own blood too and if anything very serious happens, we have flight doctors that are on call that can assist us from the ground on more complicated procedures.

karmanaut166 karma

How did the issues in Ukraine affect your mission? What changes had to be made as a result?

NASAastronauts336 karma

It didn't have any effect on the mission and no changes were required. I consider the cosmonauts my friends and colleagues. Today, the mission still continues. The relationship between NASA and Roscosmos remains strong. We still train crews, launch crews, return crews, and work together. I think it's still strong.

dangerdann162 karma

Did you have any nerve wracking moments?

Edit: spelling is hard

NASAastronauts243 karma

Yes. One was when stepping out on the first spacewalk. Another was when capturing the Cygnus supply vehicle with the robotic arm.

OxymoronsAreReason149 karma

What's something in your life that has changed drastically as a result of being an astronaut?

As an aspiring astronaut myself (or astronaut hopeful or ???), what would you have done differently in the process of becoming one?

NASAastronauts275 karma

I don't think anything has changed drastically now that I'm an astronaut and flying in space. The important things prior to being an astronaut remain the same to me -- faith and family. However, I do have a greater appreciation of the planet we live on from seeing it 260 miles up and an appreciation of the little things in life -- like the rain. It doesn't rain in space. Or the sun on your face. You don't think of things like that until you don't have it for a long time.

Mjl0889131 karma

What are your hopes for the future of the space program? What missions would you like to see accomplished in your lifetime?

NASAastronauts320 karma

My hope is that space station continues to operate safely and efficiently through at least 2020 and hopefully beyond. I hope that becomes a stepping stone for missions beyond low Earth orbit that will eventually take us to Mrs. And I hope to one day be typing in questions to the first astronaut who stepped on Mars.

cp5184122 karma

What were some interesting experiments that were taking place when you were there? What would you do in your downtime other than exercise? Were there any particularly interesting items on the space station? Space pens? I've seen a picture of some of the tool sets used there.

Would you use like, bluetooth headsets when communicating with mission control, or talking to family/friends? Would you use like, paper socks for shoes?

NASAastronauts190 karma

There's over 200 experiments that were done during my time on ISS. Some of the ones I enjoyed were the capillary flow experiment where you're looking at how fluids behave in different shaped vessels in microgravity. There was an experiment on antibiotics and how they fight super-bacteria, and we even had an experiment that involved ants.

In my down time I took a lot of pictures of Earth, I communicated with my family and friends, read, and floated around and talked to my crew mates. It's all interesting on the ISS, but the most interesting would be my crew mates.

We do have hand-less microphones and different ways of communicating with the ground.

RealOwls117 karma

Do you have a feeling of loneliness in the space station? If so how do you deal with it?

NASAastronauts273 karma

In general, no. You don't feel lonely while you are up there. You have crewmates, the ground team that you are in constant communication with, and you communicate with your family and friends on a daily basis.

But when you are out on a spacewalk, there are moments where you are alone, even with someone talking in your ear. You can feel isolated when out on a spacewalk.

forgotusernamedamnit97 karma

Hi Mike. Is there a part of the earth that is your favorite to view from space? I personally find the night views of cities to be fascinating.

NASAastronauts190 karma

Probably my favorite part to take a picture of was the waters around the Bahamas. But I really enjoyed every part of the Earth. I was surprised at taking photos of the places like the desert. With sand dunes and the winds creating geometrical patterns was stunning.

Universu91 karma

After your spacewalk and #LiveFromSpace guesting, what are you doing now while waiting for new missions?

NASAastronauts166 karma

Right now, I'm in my post-flight phase. It lasts 6 months. During that time, we go through rehabilitation, medical exams, and debriefs. And then we spend some time sharing the story and experience of being in space. In September, I will start working a job that supports the astronauts on the space station or those in training. I may also support the new vehicles that will launch from US soil starting in 2017.

Swiftapple79 karma

What kind of music do you listen to in space?

NASAastronauts146 karma

I listened to a wide variety. A lot of mixes of Top 40 and classical. We listen to it on headphones all the time except while lifting. And so the rule was whoever was lifting got to pick the music. A lot of my crewmembers had similar music tastes, so it was fairly compatible.


What advice would you give if someone wants to grow up and be and astronaut?

NASAastronauts180 karma

First, study hard. You have to find something that you love and are passionate about and do it to the best of your ability. And you have to never give up. It took me 4 tries in 13 years before I was selected to be an astronaut.

Mjl088965 karma

What's it feel like to gaze back at the Earth for the first time upon arrival aboard the ISS?

NASAastronauts152 karma

It takes your breath away. It's surreal. It's a bit surprising how quickly you are moving over the surface of the Earth. It's also amazing how much you can see and how far in front of you that you can see. And it's amazing to realize how much water there is on our planet. We really are the blue planet.

0scillator53 karma

What's it like looking out of the windows of the ISS? Can you see deep sky objects clearly?

NASAastronauts82 karma

Yes - you can see stars. But in general, the windows of the ISS are looking down at the Earth.

SilenT61243 karma

Awesome ! So I have some questions for you !

1) Have you ever been close to a satellite during an EVA ?

2) Does it feel cold or warm in the ISS ? What about during an EVA, how's the temperature like in the suits ?

3) I'm willing to work in the aerospace field, I am yet 16 years old so what studies should I follow ? Electrical engineering, aerospace engineering ? I'd like to know your opinion on it !

Thanks a lot for stopping by and this is surely the first time in my life that I'm talking to an Astronaut !

NASAastronauts80 karma

On your second question, inside ISS, the temperature is fairly stable between 74 and 75 degrees F. It's very comfortable. Outside the ISS, in your spacesuit, I was constantly adjusting the cooling as we went in and out of the sun because you are experiencing temperature swings of 250 plus or minus degrees F.

2wischen2ug40 karma

What's the most unexpected thing about your journey?

NASAastronauts86 karma

When you haven't done it before, the feeling of floating is unexpected because you don't really know. Additionally, the fact that space has a smell was unexpected. I was also very happy that I enjoyed the experience as much as I did. It was a great experience that never got old, and that was a bit unexpected.

Axel92730 karma

First, welcome back!

1) What is your favorite book, or book you wish you had time to read (and you were in space for 166 days, surely you had time)? 2) How much did you miss burgers?

Thanks so much!

NASAastronauts91 karma

I was able to read while on the station. I read the Horatio Hornblower series and the Divergent series. I also read Inferno by Dan Brown. I really read quite a bit.