THE ARTISTIC ASTRONAUT - NICOLE STOTT
"We want kids to realize, they live on a planet, they are a crew on this spaceship." Nicole Stott, retired NASA astronaut, artist, Space For Art Foundation
ABOUT NICOLE STOTT:
Retired NASA astronaut and artist Nicole Stott joins the show for the second time! (You can hear her first episode here.) A lot has happened since she was on the show in Episode 18, and Dustin and Jeff start with the recent news of Death Wish Coffee on the International Space Station, and how Nicole helped that all come to be. Nicole also talks about the amazing Space For Art Foundation that has created multiple space suits colored by children in hospitals around the world to create a unique foundation based on space exploration and the power of art and healing. Plus, Nicole talks about her experience filming One Strange Rock and reveals some of her thoughts on the future of space travel.
Jeff: Yay. You are here.
Nicole Stott: Yay.
Jeff: It's good. After meeting you last year and having you on the show, and everything that's happened through that entire year. It feels just so right that you get to be here in person, and we get to talk to you a little bit. I just wanna start by saying thank you so much for coming and seeing Death Wish, and wanting to talk to us again.
Nicole Stott: Well, thank you for inviting us. It's hard to believe it's been a year actually.
Jeff: I know.
Nicole Stott: That scares me.
Jeff: I know. Obviously for our fans out there who have been following the story, we know that we had you on the show, we joked about drinking coffee in space, and how it would be fun to get Death Wish Coffee in there. From the moment we said that you were like, "That's a good idea." You were the reason that kept that idea even going. Dustin and I never thought in a million years like that would ever happen.
Dustin: Don't speak for me. I expected it.
Jeff: You expected it. I got you. For real though, you kept that idea alive and thanks to your effort and wanting to spread the love of our coffee to your friends. Shout out to Serena who is way up there. Hi Serena. The crew of Expedition 56 now. We couldn't ... We never in a million years thought our coffee would be orbiting the earth every 90 minutes in a day. It's pretty-
Dustin: I got to ask, how did that happen on your side, what did you do to help get Death Wish coffee on board?
Nicole Stott: Well, I think the stars just aligned if we can say that because-
Dustin: Only five puns are allowed per show by the way.
Nicole Stott: Really because Serena and her husband are coffee connoisseurs. I think before I even met you guys and we even started talking about coffee, when I knew she was assigned and was gonna fly. I knew I would want to send something to her in a care package. It all just kind of worked out I think. We worked out how to get the coffee to the food lab, and I had to step back from that.
You guys just did your thing. I think the question came up, "Well, can we say our coffee is in space?" I'm like, "Okay you don't want me helping you with that because it'll just bog things down and complicate it?" The best thing you could do is work directly through the folks at the food lab. Get in touch with the-
Jeff: Which was awesome by the way.
Nicole Stott: They are great. They are so good. Then I'm pretty sure they put you in touch with the legal or PR people, or whomever.
Nicole Stott: The fact that you guys walked away with a blessed, official release kind of piece of paper, and all of that. I think it's so cool, because it's the kind of, to me it's the kind of precedent we need to start setting with the way we communicate about space. What I loved about you too when we talked before was that it's not like you had the day before we got online together that you were scrambling to figure out, what's a Space Station? What does N-A-S-A stand for? There was none of that. You guys genuinely were excited about. You probably know more than I do about it.
Nicole Stott: I'm pretty sure. Then the fact that outside of NASA and what is going on for real in space. There is a real of Sci Fi and the creativity and excitement that space exploration can generate. If we can drink some coffee and share a coffee in space to get that word out too, I think it's a good thing.
Jeff: We always say here at Death Wish Coffee that we wanna fuel people through what they are doing. As a kid I used to look up at the stars and even with mirroring and all that. In the early Space Station, knowing that people were up there and doing things. It's like, humanity is doing things that I can't even fathom, and now with people living and working up there, and this amount of science that comes out of just every single mission is all inspiring, and to know that our coffee gets to fuel them to help do that, I can't even express it.
Dustin: Yeah. It's so moving. I got to ask, did anybody send you a care package when you were up on the ISS? And what did they send you and who was it?
Nicole Stott: Yeah.
Dustin: That's good.
Nicole Stott: My family, included things, and my son, and my husband for sure. One of the things that I got sent was these chocolates that I really love. This chocolate coded ginger, that's really delicious. What I thought up there would be really neat about it is, we get candy sent to us, and we have, you have sweet, and you have savory things, and all that, but the chocolate covered ginger is really delicious, because it kind of mixes both of that. That's what I remember.
Jeff: I know we've talked about this a little offside of the podcast but it must really be like Christmas when you guys are living there for months at a time, and you get food that isn't on the menu or drinks that aren't on the menu.
Nicole Stott: Yeah.
Jeff: That really must be like, everybody must be really excited about that.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. It's really nice. As crew members we get to pick our own ... I don't know what they call it now, bonus food or something. When we had the Space Shuttle it was really great because you'd get a couple of these kind of big bags of things. One of my crew mates Frank De Winne, a Belgian guy. He and his wife did probably the best job of picking out those kinds of foods of anyone. Of course, everybody shares their stuff, but he had things like sausages, and cans of lump crab meat, and cheeses, and all the stuff that you would bring out and share that just wasn't part of the normal menu either. I think at one point we talked about the big green pickle thing in the bag.
Jeff: We talked about this off podcast, can we talk about this story? Let me preface this. When I got to go down to NASA to watch the SpaceX rocket, the Falcon 9 rocket launch into space with our coffee on it, to go to the International Space Station, and I met up with. Before that I got to go and toured NASA food labs.
One of the things they were talking about was some of the foods that they send up there, like astronauts love to get a fresh piece of produce or fruit, because you are so used to eating refrigerated stuff forever. Something that's fresh is really really awesome. But they have to be careful because some stuff smells. The NASA food labs was talking about how they don't like to send up bananas, because a banana will make the entire Space Station smell like a banana forever.
Dustin: Yeah, you put anything next to a banana, even if you have a bag of chips, and you put it next to a banana, somehow those bag of chips still taste like bananas. I don't know how that works.
Jeff: I asked you if you remember bananas ever being up there, but you said, you didn't, but you did tell this story about a pickle. Can you tell us the story again?
Nicole Stott: Yeah, my crew mate Jeff in his care package. And apparently ... The 7'11, the big pickles in a bag?
Jeff: Big pickle in a bag. Yeah.
Nicole Stott: Pickle in a bag, and it's just like a huge pickle, but it's just this bag of pickle juice too. Honestly we are all excited about eating the pickle, but the idea of opening it up was really kind of daunting, because what do you do? Who is gonna suck down the pickle juice? What's gonna happen with the juice? We had agreements that if you opened up a bag of food, especially that had a sauce in it, you suck that bag dry because wet trash is really iffy.
Finally, Jeff decides to open this pickle and eat it, and instead of sucking down the sauce or finding somebody who would suck down the sauce, he took a towel, and he just squirted out all the pickle juice into this towel. Now you have this white towel that is this greenish yellow, that fluorescent color.
Nicole Stott: Greenish, yellow towel that's just soaked and hangs it up in the corner of the station, or one of the modules, so that airflow will dry it. That's how you dry, your towels that you use after you take a bath or when you are sweating. All of that just has to get recycled into the systems to, which then generates clean drinking water from it. Anyway, he put this towel up there with the pickle juice and it reeked. It just circulated through the station, and for days was this juice.
I remember when it first, the way the airflow goes, it would come down through the [inaudible 00:08:51], and then it would finally make it all the way down together into the Russian segment, and come through. As soon as it did the first time, I remember Gennady Padalka who was our commander at the time, he comes floating down, "What is that?" Looking for whatever the sources of the [crosstalk 00:09:12]. That was bad.
Jeff: Needless to say they probably don't send bags of pickles up there anymore i would think.
Nicole Stott: I don't know.
Jeff: That or either drink the juice now, right?
Dustin: Yeah, please drink the juice. It's crazy.
Nicole Stott: The pickle was good but the juice was-
Dustin: Was it worthy it in the end?
Nicole Stott: No. I don't think so.
Dustin: Ends don't justify the means.
Nicole Stott: Yeah, sometimes.
Jeff: We talked about in the last episode that we had you on. How you were able to fly on the Space Shuttle, which I still think is one of, outside of the Space Station is one of the greatest vehicles and achievements that humanity has made. I really do think this reusable craft, and we are working back towards that. In fact, as we are recording this, they just announced the crew who is going to be going up ... The next crew since the Space Shuttle, who is gonna be going up to the Space Station. Do you know any of that crew?
Nicole Stott: Yeah. I know all those folks. They actually announced four crews.
Jeff: Four crews?
Nicole Stott: Yeah. There'll be a first flight of both the Boeing Starliner, and the crew to SpaceX Dragon Vehicle. They announced the first crew for both of those, and then they announced the second crew, which will be the folks that get to fly that vehicle for the first time, to station, and actually stay there for a little while.
Jeff: Yeah, because the first crew is, correct me if I'm wrong, they are just going, they are launching, docking, and then coming back. They are not getting off the craft, right?
Nicole Stott: Yeah. It's more of just a test flight.
Jeff: Just a test, we can we do this kind of thing.
Nicole Stott: Yeah.
Jeff: Do you think, and this is kind of a question from your engineering side, as well, do you think that we will be working towards a craft like the Space Shuttle again? Because these are more like the Soyuz, right, these aren't flight-
Nicole Stott: These are capsules.
Nicole Stott: They are very much like what we remember of Apollo days, or what we know now of the Russian Soyuz Spacecraft. Of course, they are advanced from a technology standpoint of things, but yeah, that's what they are. You are in this very small capsule. When they land, they'll be landing, I can't remember if they are both landing in the water, or one is landing in the water, one is landing on the land. Like we did for apollo, and like we are doing for Soyuz. I personally, I really hope we get back to something like the Space Shuttle. There is a company out there, Sierra Nevada Corp that's doing a small lifting body-
Jeff: I've seen an artist representation of what they are working on.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. They've got a cargo contract. They'll be doing some cargo and hopefully they'll continue their development so that they can have a crew version. I just think, human being should come back from space, and land on the runway.
Nicole Stott: Or land, even SpaceX is looking at for when they go to mars, you've seen the boosters come back and land?
Nicole Stott: And that is just incredible.
Dustin: I never thought we could do something like that. That's insane.
Nicole Stott: It's super cool. If you could be a person doing something like that, but I don't know, car crash into the ocean or the water is not ideal.
Dustin: I was about to say, it seems like it comes with a whole new set of dangers and issues.
Nicole Stott: That's the thing. I think the Soyuz Spacecraft. They have done such an excellent job in terms of the safety of that spacecraft getting people back. Even if you are slamming into the desert, but what I think about landing in the water again. Orion is doing this too, the bigger capsule, Orion is doing this too, is landing in the water. All I think about is, you just went through, survived reentering the atmosphere, and making it back to earth, and now you are in another potentially emerging situation by bobbing around in the ocean for hours before you-
Dustin: The last thing that you wanna do is be in a vessel that's sinking and you are strapped into it. That seems like a nightmare. It seems awful.
Nicole Stott: You don't really wanna go there.
Jeff: You talked about, the first time that we talked with you on the show about how, almost magical it is to come back on the Space Shuttle, because you are touching down on a runway and it's just this nice way of coming back down. We just recently saw you speak at SPAC, and you said that, about the Soyuz is that, I'd never even thought of before that it's like a car crash. Did you come back on one of those or?
Nicole Stott: No.
Jeff: Did you train for that?
Nicole Stott: I trained for that. Our emergency rescue vehicle has always been a Soyuz on Space Station.
Dustin: It makes sense.
Nicole Stott: When I was first assigned to fly my first mission, it kind of went through every iteration as shuttles delayed and things. Originally I was going up on a shuttle, down on a Soyuz. That would have been with the manifest, that would have been like a seven and a half month flight. Then it evolved to Soyuz, Soyuz shuttle, and ended up shuttle shuttle, which I'm very thankful for. I would have loved to fly a Soyuz too. I think it would be really, I would love to do it.
Jeff: I was about to say, "You didn't wanna try it up?"
Dustin: Yeah. That's cool.
Nicole Stott: Absolutely, why would you not want to try it out? It's designed to take care of you. It's just a totally different experience.
Jeff: Interesting. I find with a lot of strange new things that happen in my life, I end up dreaming about it. Do you ever dream about being in space, and then wake up being like, where am I, am I still in space? Does that happen? It must-
Nicole Stott: I do dream about it. Once I was there I started, as soon as I was on station your dreams, or at least mine shifted a little bit too.
Jeff: I bet.
Nicole Stott: To incorporate floating around through the station, and launching, and just working in space in general. I think the thing about dreams or at least mine that really surprised me was ... I have this vivid memory as a kid, and through adulthood, before flying and space, that dream where you kind of run and jump and fly, and wanna fly?
Dustin: Yeah. I love that dream.
Nicole Stott: And sometimes you can, and then sometimes you can't, and then the dream you are figuring out why can't I get off the ground today or whatever it is? I had that all the way up until the time I flew in space, and I have never had that dream again, ever, since flying in space.
Dustin: Really? It's like you filled the void.
Nicole Stott: I guess.
Jeff: You did it. You ran and jumped as far as you could.
Nicole Stott: Jumped to space.
Jeff: Yeah, you jumped to space.
Dustin: You grew your wings. That's awesome.
Jeff: Another thing that you talked about at the talk that we saw you at, was that you got to a point in your career where, you retired from NASA a couple of years ago. That was a big decision for you because, and I didn't know this, that you said you were in line to actually go and fly again. You decided to retire because you wanted to pursue the other aspect of being an astronaut, allowing this knowledge to come to the normal person. We talked about it on the first episode, how crazy it is there is people out there that don't even know that there is people living in space.
Dustin: It's a shame.
Jeff: Or flying in space. We need people like you to educate us on that kind of thing. I wanted to talk about that.
Dustin: It just expands the imagination.
Nicole Stott: We need people like you. That's what I love about this too is that you guys are excited about.
Jeff: Yeah. I wanted to talk a little bit about this project that you are a part of, this is Space For Art Foundation, which I think is so incredible. We didn't get a chance to talk about this that much on the last episode. Can we talk about how this came to be and especially with that awesome space suit that you guys created and everything?
Nicole Stott: Well, I think there was a little bit of an evolution of it. If I go back to the very beginning, I think it was having the change to paint in space, which was really fun. Then when I was considering this whole do I retire? Don't I ... I knew I wanted to find a way to share the experience. Art just because this thing that seemed like, probably the best mechanism, for me at least to do it, and to go back to that painting in space, and think about the inspiration I had there.
I think because I had done that, and people that were still working at NASA within the Space Station program knew that I was out pursuing the art thing. When they heard about this artist from one of the hospitals in Houston. That was working with kids there on projects, and then he would always do these projects with kids and then create some ginormous collaborative kind of art project out of all of their work together. He did these big dragons and murals, and wrapped buses. It was really really cool. His name is Ian Cion, and he approached NASA about doing something with space, with the kids. His initial idea was that he should be, he should go to space and be the artist on residence on the Space Station.
Jeff: What a great idea?
Nicole Stott: Why would you not ask that? That should be the first thing you always ask. Of course, he had to get talked down a little bit. They targeted the space suits. They just invited me to join them on this project. I got to, while I wasn't, I don't consider myself the artistic creator behind it at all. I did help guide what they did with the suits, how we eventually evolved from the first suit that was just done with kids art at one hospital in Houston. Our third suit was made from kids in hospitals in all of our station program partner countries.
That suit was called Unity. It flew to the Space Station. We had this global video conference with the kids and mission control, and that kind of thing. We are getting ready to take that suit back to those hospitals around the world.
Jeff: It's back on earth?
Nicole Stott: Yeah, it's back. That project, we saw within that project that there really is, space does inspire people to think of their future, think beyond the situation that they are in. And especially for these kids, it was really impactful for me to see how much they could almost ... I think about it kind of like a meditation thing, where they transcended through doing this art work, they were separated completely from this experience they were having in the hospital. They could think about their future, and they could imagine themselves doing something else. They recognized that they were doing this as part of something much bigger. There were kids on the other side of the planet that were participating in it too.
Jeff: I think space and space exploration breeds creativity. Science fiction, obviously.
Dustin: It just expands the imagination to like, I can't believe that it's possible for us to do this as humans. I still think that constantly, it's why it freaks me out so much.
Jeff: I think that has a lot to do in the core idea of art, because at least in my mind, when I look at the Space Shuttle, or even the Saturn V. That's art. Somebody came up with that idea, and was like, "I'm gonna make this happen." And sure there is a lot of ones and zeros and a lot of math in there, and all that stuff, but what it really comes down to is, that's humanity creating art that is functional that did that. Again, going back to being ... When I visited you for the launch and getting to go to NASA at Kennedy Space Center there, and seeing the Atlantis Exhibit up close.
I'm not even lying, I cried walking into that room, because it is incredibly breathtaking to be in that room with something that has been created like that. It's beautiful, it's a beautiful machine that has been created artistically for us to explore space, and continue that creativity. That's why I think Space For Art is such a cool thing, that you guys have you done. What's the next steps for space for art? Because I know you guys just released this new logo.
Nicole Stott: Yeah.
Jeff: You've done three suits now, what else is there that can people follow?
Nicole Stott: We actually, we have four suits, because our Russian partners that joined us along the way. They are very excited about it. This is what we wanna see happen. It started at one hospital in the US. It's grown to these participating hospitals around the world. We actually in the fourth suit, which is called victory, it flew to space and came back. It was the Russian space suit company, put it together and it was a combination of kids from the US and Russia, that painted on that suit.
Dustin: That's cool.
Nicole Stott: They are working very closely with us, Alena Kuzmenko, who was our partner in this, she formed her own foundation in Moscow called the Unity Foundation. She is now in, I wanna say 10 hospitals in the Moscow region with like 60 volunteers doing all kinds of art projects, and with kids and adults. Her mom very sadly passed away from cancer. That's how we met her. With kids and adults, and they are doing, not just painting, but they are helping women with make up and hair, and all these things, but they are coming very creatively into the hospital setting.
Through them we are doing another suit called Dreamer, which is gonna be all of the station countries. All 15 of the station partners we are gonna have kids paint on that suit, the Russian agency has already agreed to send, and that's The Orlan, it's like the Russian version of the space suit.
Jeff: That's so cool.
Nicole Stott: That'll go back up to the station. We have some super top secret ideas that'll go along with that one right now that we are hoping that it'll come to life. We've got the Exploration suit that's in work. That one, we are just trying to cover the planet. If you guys know people and hospitals around the world, let us know. We wanna get pieces to as many places as we can for kids to paint on it.
Then exploration is gonna be kind of this ambassador for spaceship earth. We want kids to realize, they live on a planet, they are a crew on this spaceship. That whole interconnectivity thing, and get a sense of the fact that they are already in space. They don't need to ... We don't need to send exploration to the Space Station for it to be in space. We've got postcards to space that we are doing. All kinds of things, but it's all, to me I think of three words. I think it's space, art and healing. Those are the three things that are coming out of all of it.
The momentum that we've got behind us with just that first suit, the hope space suit, and just seeing the, just the power of bringing these people together that way ways. I don't know, I'm really looking forward to what will come from it too.
Jeff: That's so so exciting.
Dustin: Where do you see this going in like five, 10 years, what is this fully blossoming to in the end?
Nicole Stott: I think we have three things really. One is that we want to encourage, as we go around ourselves to these hospitals, or even to schools, we wanna encourage more and more that these places will pick up on their own, or maybe develop their Space For Art Foundation, or like Alena did with the Unity Foundation in Moscow, and then just take it themselves and start doing more art and healing programs in their own areas. We've seen that happen. We've got a young lady in Pakistan that's doing some things in some hospitals there.
Dustin: That's so cool.
Nicole Stott: We want to facilitate or encourage that happening. We are looking at working with some other foundations that are already in place that are doing research on not necessarily pediatric cancer research, or any of the issues that the kids are going through already. Looking at, how does something like art with kids in a hospital facilitate healing, facilitate wellness. There is a lot starting to go on with that. We wanna work in that area, and one of the reasons we wanna do that is because the kids that we spend time with. It doesn't, I have a vivid memory of this one young lady, seven, eight years older, this conversation about, being an astronaut at space, it might be a lot like what I'm going through here when I'm in the hospital. I'm thinking, "How in the world?"
This little girl is going through what you hope her and her family never have to experience anything like it ever again in their lives. She's comparing it to me doing something that I dreamed about, being in space as an astronaut. She's like, "Oh, yeah. You don't get to see your mommy and daddy the same way. You eat different food, and your body is changing, and you are blah, blah. You are isolated." I was like, "You are right."
Dustin: That's very interesting.
Nicole Stott: We wanna consider or continue these things in the clinical setting. We always wanna do that. We wanna look at it from the standpoint of, what are we gonna need for our astronauts? For people that are traveling further and further off our planet, they don't see earth out the window anymore, which is a huge psychological connection to everything. When you don't see earth out the window anymore, and you are in a relatively small spaceship going to Mars or whatever. How are you gonna spend your time? How are you gonna deal with those? Are you painting on your iPad, or are you in the Holodeck? What is it that you do? That's very much a creative artistic kind of thing to consider.
Jeff: That's really cool. Again, that's why I think this is such an awesome program in general. It breeds a ton of creativity on earth, outside of earth, and healing. That's the greatest thing. I think even people who are just connected to this tangentially feel better.
Nicole Stott: Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. Not even just like, I'm suffering in a hospital. It's like, it's one of those great great things that I was excited to talk to you about, that has happened, a lot has happened since we talked the last time. Speaking of that, were you gonna bring up something?
Dustin: I was just gonna ask, let's say I'm some champ.
Jeff: You are some champ.
Dustin: And I have a few extra bucks, and I wanna be a part of this.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. Well, you can go to the Space For Art Foundation, Facebook page. Which is i think just Space For Art Foundation. There is donate button. We just got that together. There is a donate button there, there is a bank account that can accept it. The next thing we would be applying that to is the world tour, to get the unity suit back to the kids in the hospitals that participated, and also to get more children painting on the exploration and the dreamer suits.
In addition to the painting sessions, the research, all of that that we want to see happen. We want to actually exhibit the kids' work here in different venues and formats, and things too. It'll help with that. There'll be plenty of opportunity coming. Thanks.
Jeff: We'll put out the word for sure. I wanted to bring up at the end here another thing that happened in the year since we have had you on the show that one of my new favorite things that you got to be a part of, which was One Strange Rock.
Nicole Stott: Yeah.
Jeff: I've loved everything that National Geographic has done in the vein of this kind of stuff, like planet earth and blue planet, and those types of-
Dustin: They did that mars series, remember that?
Jeff: Yeah, the mars series.
Dustin: That was-
Nicole Stott: Yeah, there is another one coming.
Jeff: I can't wait-
Dustin: Man, it was so scary. That's a horror series for me.
Jeff: That's a lot of fun.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. They are doing a whole another, whatever that's called, season. They are doing a whole another season of that.
Jeff: We've actually talked about it on the show before, because it's like science fiction and reality. It's the same vein-
Dustin: Yeah, perfect mix.
Jeff: It's very cool, but this is all reality, and it was the idea of taking eight astronauts, and having them give their perspective on our strange rock, which I thought was on paper a great premise.
Nicole Stott: Yeah.
Jeff: How did you get involved with this? The names alone, Darren Aronofsky, and Will Smith, and National Geographic. How did you get involved with this?
Nicole Stott: I think the first introduction to it was through Nutopia, which is Jane Root's company over in the UK. It's so funny how you are completely ignorant of these other industries and wonderfully creative people that are out there when you are not right in the loop with that. Ever since meeting her and her folks, there is really cool stuff going on out there, and ideas that are being generated to try to do things like One Strange Rock.
Of course then they partnered with Protozoan, the Aronofsky, Ari Handel's group, and then NatGeo came onboard of course. Yeah, just this, the story of earth in a way that I don't think it's ever really been presented before.
Nicole Stott: I think it should be in every kid's classroom quite honestly.
Jeff: I hope they release it on a Blue Ray with special features and stuff.
Nicole Stott: I think they are.
Jeff: If you guys haven't seen it, go watch this, because it's amazing, especially episode two. What was the process of that like? Because I know they featured each one of the eight of you in an episode. With your episode they obviously came to your house and featured you with that. All of the stuff where you guys were like contributing to each episode, did you knock all that out in a day, was that over a course of months?
Nicole Stott: No. Nat Sharman, who was the guy that put together episode two. He and his team came to Florida, and I think we did, that was either four or five, like really full days, from 7:00 till 7:00 at least. That was in a studio, and then out in different places, at my house, which really wasn't my house. It was kind of my house, we were in transition at the time.
Jeff: Telling secrets.
Nicole Stott: That would have been an awesome house to have on the beach there, like the Indian rocks.
Nicole Stott: Anyway, it was a lot of that. What was really surprising to me was how much goes into a production like that. The hours and hours that we spent filming, and everything. I don't think this even made it into the episode, but this one, I think we spent half an hour filming the potting a plant. And the dirt falling through my hands, and close shot, the wide shot, all of it. Then after you see what they put together you realize ... They know what they are doing. It's just really beautifully creative in a way I had never seen before. Of course, with Darren, and Jane, and Ari, and those guys pulling it all together, it's incredible.
The places they visited around the planet, I can't remember the number of sites that were, that they were on location with. They take you to places that make you feel like, you don't even necessarily feel like you are on earth. It's kind of got this other worldly feel to it that when you get that question about, do you think there is life outside of earth? You are like, holy molly, why wouldn't there be? You got things living in places on our planet that we can't even consider, but there is life there.
Jeff: I forget where it was but the acid lakes.
Nicole Stott: I think it's Ethiopia.
Dustin: Acid lakes?
Jeff: Yeah, just lakes of acid.
Nicole Stott: Yeah, and there is things living there.
Jeff: And there is things in there, living, but the human beings that are walking through it are in hazmaz suits, like we will die if we are there.
Dustin: What's in there?
Nicole Stott: These little bacterial things that just survive there.
Dustin: That's insane.
Jeff: Yeah, on earth. The way they shot it, just like you said-
Nicole Stott: It's almost like you are walking on another planet.
Jeff: They could be like, "This is another planet." And you'd be like, "Yes, it is. Of course it is."
Dustin: Well, that's the thing. It could be, it's things living in very undesirable locations, this could be happening anywhere.
Nicole Stott: It's weird because I did, I moderated a panel session at the World Science Festival. It was about alien life, what would alien life be like, what's intelligent life? All of that kind of thing. It occurred to me, it's like, "Wow, we always bring it back to ourselves. We think of ourselves as life. There couldn't be life on that planet because there is not an oxygen rich, and nitrogen rich environment for us to survive." Life doesn't necessarily mean us. We always look at it like, Mars is not habitable right now, because we can't just walk around on the surface of it. Who knows what could be?
Jeff: That's a good point. I always think aliens are, the way they depict them in movies or books. It's two arms, two legs, a head. I think if we find something out there, it's not gonna be anything that we can really conceive of with our imaginations.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. We very arrogantly assume intelligence is us.
Nicole Stott: we do it here on our own planet too. Whether it's with-
Jeff: Like the orcas-
Nicole Stott: The orca or whatever creature that shares the planet with us. We assume that-
Jeff: We are superior-
Nicole Stott: We are the intelligence.
Jeff: And it's not. I always hug it back to the original Star Trek series, which was a great premise. Roddenberry to his credit had that one flaw was that every alien race they came in contact was inherently human. They might be green or blue-
Nicole Stott: Weird shaped tongues or something.
Jeff: It was a human being. It's always that funny kind of thing. I did hear speaking of One Strange Rock that they are gonna make a second season of that as well.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. I think so.
Jeff: Do you get to be a part of that? Are they gonna do a-
Nicole Stott: I'm crossing my fingers. I've heard that there is a possibility.
Jeff: Cool, because I didn't know if they were going to maybe talk to eight new astronauts or.
Nicole Stott: I don't think we know yet.
Jeff: Okay, cool. We are crossing our fingers for you too, because that was, I just cannot say enough good things about that, because again it's one of those things that's out in the world that is educating people on not only the world that we live in, spaceship earth, planet earth, but also space exploration, because just offhandedly, listening to you guys just talk about viewing the earth from the Space Station, and your experience of the different things that you saw on our own planet, but in space is just incredible. I personally learned a lot from that. And I love this stuff. I research this kind of stuff.
Dustin: When you make something entertaining like that, it's just so much more absorbable. It's insane. I can't see something like this. In my day, you'd think about rolling in the VCR, TV, table thing, and popping in the tape.
Nicole Stott: That was advanced.
Jeff: Those were there best days.
Nicole Stott: The filmstrip.
Jeff: Those were the best days at school, when the teacher would wheel in the filmstrip, you are like, yeah.
Dustin: Like, [crosstalk 00:36:08] just watch this and shut up. It's going to be this. I truly believe that.
Jeff: Yes. 100% yes.
Dustin: And if it's not, it should be.
Jeff: And I got to say too-
Nicole Stott: I would wanna learn it if it was coming into the classroom.
Jeff: Right. And I got to say too for the makers of the Nutopia and National Geographic. If you are watching this show, I wanna see that potting plant footage in the special feed news. I wanna see that 100%. If you spent all that time on that, we better get those ... I'm a special features junkie, I need that stuff for sure. Finally I just wanna ask you, on space exploration.
We touched a little bit about where you think we are going with our spacecraft. Where do you think the next step is with space exploration outside of the Space Station? Because it's still up in the air, it's what's happening with the Space Station. In 2025 I think it is, it's gonna be either retired or updated or however they are going to deal with that. From someone who is attached to this, do you feel like the play is to make something else or more of them, multiples of them, or do you think we need to be building off of what we've done?
Nicole Stott: I think there is a mix. I think that the Space Station, like lower earth orbit Space Stations have a place.
Nicole Stott: In the future of exploration as well. I also think that, I'm a moon person.
Jeff: Me too.
Nicole Stott: I personally think that our next big step will be to get back to the moon, but with the idea that we are establishing a permanent presence there. We are establishing a permanent presence there that is about improving life here on earth. How do we utilize the resources on the moon, how do we take things off of earth and put them on the moon in a way that cleans up our planet a little bit too?
Then how do we use that ... It's like this purpose built Space Station there for us already. It's the high ground too really. How do we utilize it to get us more economically, more effectively, efficiently, all those words, out to places like Mars and beyond?
Jeff: Right, because most of the effort is just getting out of the atmosphere.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. Just getting off the ground is huge, and we keep thinking about, "We are gonna launch from earth to go to Mars." And that just-
Jeff: The amount of fuel that complicates-
Nicole Stott: It just complicates the whole thing. When you could start doing this construction, and launching from space. It's a lot less thrust that you have to ... Just to get to low earth orbit, it's almost eight million pounds of thrust, to just be able to fall around the planet at 250 miles that.
Jeff: That's insane. Are there people thinking this as well, trying to enact an idea like this?
Nicole Stott: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think they are thinking at both internal to the NASA, the JAXA, the ESA, Russian Space Agency, the Chinese are looking at it too. How do we as government agencies look at expanding our presence outside of low earth orbit? Also commercially they are looking at it too.
Dustin: How cool would it be to take a trip to the moon?
Nicole Stott: I know.
Dustin: That would be insane. Maybe a big museum there, that'd be amazing.
Jeff: Sign me up. I keep saying this, because I've been following space exploration since I've been a kid. It was science fiction when I was a child. You either become an astronaut or you read a science fiction book about going to space. It's one or the other. Now because of things like SpaceX, and even Richard Branson and things like that, the idea of space tourism, or just the normal person being able to go to space is becoming more of a reality.
I swear, if it takes me to be 70 years old, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna go up there, at least for just once, because I have to. I have to experience it. It's too cool not to. It's too cool to just be able to talk to you.
Nicole Stott: It was fun for me to be here.
Dustin: Before we end this, I have two personal questions. One of them I asked before, it's pretty easy. I guess it's not that personal, but personal for me. Elon Musk, is he a evil genius or a technological saint?
Nicole Stott: Well, I don't know if that's, if either one of those is the thing. I think there is definitely genius material going on there. I think that, it's funny, because I think his motivation is not bad. I think there is ... If you look at the different things he's working on, all of them are, really have this greater good.
Jeff: Like improving the life.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. Thing to it-
Dustin: Except for the flame thrower.
Nicole Stott: We just have to name it something different.
Dustin: That was just a stepping stone.
Jeff: He named it not a flame thrower.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. Not a flame thrower. It's funny, my husband is, you met Chris and talked about this stuff.
Dustin: Yeah, I love Chris.
Nicole Stott: If you look at some of these guys that are involved with these next steps in space exploration. My husband believes, you can look at them, and how they are developing their ideas forward, and you can tell what Sci Fi authors they read as kids. Elon was definitely one set of authors and you can look at Jeff Bezos, totally different. The thing about Musk, is I think you look at him, and he wants to get off the planet, he wants to get to Mars. I get the sense of almost multi-planetary species, because we might not survive here in the near term kind of thing.
Whereas I look at a Bezos kind of attitude, and it's, we need to get off the planet, we need multi-planetary species, because in whatever billion a years when the sun sucks us up, the earth is gonna be gone, but not necessarily because we are doing it to ourselves, and we need to separate ourselves from the planet more to get the stuff that's hurting how earth survives for us to survive here off the planet too. It's just a different kind of approach to it.
I don't want ... I don't wanna diss in any way what Musk is doing, because I think you look at just in the amount of time that they've gone from, we are gonna launch cargo to the Space Station, to the cruise [crosstalk 00:42:32] for crew dragon, and those boosters coming back and all these things. A lot of what has just happened in this introduction of new companies into the whole space exploration thing has been, NASA has been able to partner with new partners in a way that it allows us to do things differently, perhaps in a more expeditious way, or is allowing us to look at things that we maybe just really couldn't have internal to NASA itself.
That's a good thing. That's what I think people need to know too is that this is not SpaceX or Boeing doing this on their own. They are absolutely hand in hand with NASA. If not just from the financial budgeting, here is cash to do this kind of standpoint. It's from the expertise resources that NASA has to provide to it as well.
Dustin: That makes sense. Good answer. Great answer. Second question, I've had moments in life where I was leaving somewhere for a long time. I couldn't help but to think like, "Screw everything. I'm out of here." I can't imagine what that feeling must be like when you are leaving the planet. What did that feel like the day before, the night before?
Jeff: The minute before.
Dustin: The minute before getting on that Space Shuttle. I can't even put an imagination behind that feeling.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. Well, it's not bad. It's like dammit, I'm out of here.
Dustin: Screw you guys.
Nicole Stott: Whatever it is. It's not that. I think you are really really anxious to just ... You've been training so long to do it. I think you just genuinely are anxious to see everything from just what it feels like to doing the work up there. I think anybody that goes and does this believes that the work, you know it's gonna be fun. There is no doubt it's gonna be fun. I don't think that's why you do it. I wouldn't have strapped onto seven million pounds of thrusting rocket fuel with a seven year old at home, if I thought I was just going to have the joy ride for fun. I think there is that. I think there is that.
Dustin: Like a strong sense of purpose.
Nicole Stott: There is something better hopefully is coming from this. The fear in all of it is for like, the people that are seated on the couch over there, is because it is. It is a lot more difficult to watch somebody.
Dustin: I imagine.
Nicole Stott: Strapping and do this, than it is to be the person strapping in and doing it.
Dustin: Bungee jumping times a million.
Nicole Stott: Yeah. My sister knows that one too, "Hey, I'm going bungee jumping tomorrow. Don't tell mom." I think that's kind of the piece in it is that you really feel like you are part of something that's worthwhile.
Jeff: Did you sleep?
Nicole Stott: I did sleep. Yeah. I did sleep.
Jeff: You must have woken up just like so-
Nicole Stott: Yeah, you wake up ready. There is a whole process that you've seen other people go through before that go in and sit in the recliner chair, and getting all suited up, and you are like, you never imagined yourself sitting in that reclining chair, and suited up. Those kinds of things. I was like, "Wow, I did that." Now the whole thing is just this surreal blur of thankfulness for the pictures and video because, and as I live vicariously through my friends and Serena up there drinking Death Wish in space.
Dustin: That's so crazy.
Jeff: Yeah. It's just incredible. There's only been five hundred and change of you, of people like you who have actually left the planet. Five hundred and seventy somewhat people at this point. When you put in the perspective of humanity that's-
Dustin: Less than 1% of 1%.
Jeff: Less than 0.001% of 1% of 1%. It's incredible the amount of ingenuity and creativity that has went into it and people like you that have helped further that along. Again, I can't thank you enough for taking time to talk with us to talking, not only talking with us, but helping us get our coffee in the space. I'm so glad that Serena is enjoying it up there, and I'm just so glad to be your friend.
Nicole Stott: Well, you are welcome. Me too-
Dustin: A true honor.
Nicole Stott: If I didn't like you guys we wouldn't be doing this.
Jeff: Downright. Thank you so much.
Nicole Stott: You are welcome.