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Space is for Everybody: Insights from NASA Astronauts | SXSW 2021

Victor Glover
Astronaut/ CDR, USN at NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
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SXSW 2021
March 16, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
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Space is for Everybody: Insights from NASA Astronauts | SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Victor Glover
Astronaut/ CDR, USN at NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Kate Rubins
Astronaut at NASA Johnson Space Center

Victor J. Glover, Jr. was selected as an astronaut in 2013 while serving as a Legislative Fellow in the United States Senate. He is currently training for Crew-1, the first post-certification mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft – the second crewed flight for that vehicle – and a long duration mission aboard the International Space Station.Glover is a Naval Aviator and was a test pilot in the F/A‐18 Hornet, Super Hornet and EA‐18G Growler. He and his family have been stationed in many locations in the United States and Japan and he has deployed in combat and peacetime.Victor was most recently a Legislative Fellow in the United States Senate. He worked on the personal staff of the Honorable John McCain supporting defense and foreign relations policy and oversight.

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Dr. Rubins conducted her undergraduate research on HIV-1 integration at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She analyzed on the mechanism of HIV integration, including several studies of HIV-1 Integrase inhibitors, and genome-wide analyses of HIV integration patterns into host genomic DNA. She obtained her Ph.D. from Stanford University and with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rubins and colleagues developed the first model of smallpox infection. She also developed a complete map of the poxvirus transcriptome, and studied virus-host interactions using both in vitro and animal model systems.Dr. Rubins accepted a Fellow/Principal Investigator position at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (MIT/Cambridge, Massachusetts) and headed a lab of 14 researchers, studying viral diseases which primarily affect Central and West Africa. She traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to conduct research and supervise study sites. Work in the Rubins Lab focused on poxviruses and host-pathogen interaction, as well as viral mechanisms for regulating host cell mRNA transcription, translation and decay. In addition, she conducted research on transcriptome and genome sequencing of filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg) and Arenaviruses (Lassa Fever), and collaborative projects with the U.S. Army to develop therapies for Ebola and Lassa virus. Dr. Rubins has published and presented her work in

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About the talk

For 20 years, humans have conducted science from humanity's home in orbit — the International Space Station. Join NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Kate Rubins for a SXSW session from 250 miles above as these space travelers provide insight about their experience working and living in space, international collaboration aboard the station, space technology, and how research in microgravity benefits everybody back on Earth.

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SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. An essential destination for global professionals, this year’s online event features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. For more information, please visit sxsw.com.

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Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for that? And this is station. We are ready for the event. 260 miles above the planet Earth really incredible. We do station maintenance as well. So we do things like spacewalks, we do interior maintenance and then we do have a little bit of down time to enjoy life. We mostly look at the planet. Take photos. We exercise to stay fit. So life up here is sometimes like life on Earth. I would like to share a little bit of that, which it with you. We hope you're having a wonderful time at South by Southwest and is actually a great thing to do

since we're distance from station up here. Greetings everyone. And, you know, it's great to be with you even if it's just virtually we've been building. And now operating the space station for over 20 years having folks on board conducting all types of science like Kate mentioned, quarantine and isolation are something that you experience as an astronaut and also with the rest of the population during the coronavirus pandemic, anything you've learned in your training or experience that you can share with all of us. Yeah. So I actually used to be a biosafety level-4 researcher before

I came in after I worked on smallpox and Ebola. So viruses and thinking about pandemic or nothing new, it was certainly very new to me to live through a pandemic. I think all of us have had that crazy experience at the same time. So even if you're a researcher and you're completely prepared for the theoretical, I think the actual is much different in and I pretty much learned along with the rest of you things to do to keep myself safe, my family safe crewmate safe. And we're certainly concerned about this when launching to the International Space Station, but the

kinds of things that we've done to prepare to launch. Crews are basically the same isolation, testing masking these kinds of measures that everybody's doing on the earth. So I think we're all learning together about this globally and it's pretty tough. Even as a as a bsl-4, infectious disease researcher. You know, I may be no virologist, but I think I'm going to come home quite a bit smarter from being up here with Kate for 6 months. So, I've been great being up here with you. All right, I got a question for you. This is your first flight, but I

experienced and very talented, but it's just thinking back and your first month. And stays what's something? Surprising, something new that you learned something. Interesting ideas to two sides of it. So, I will say, one thing that I found really interesting is how much focus and attention everything requires. I mean, everything simple things, you at home, you can kind of have your both hands, full and set something down and then focus on one and then go back and pick it up and if

you do that here it is gone. And you may find it laying on it in a week or two on the inlet. But on the other thing, I guess on it on the other side of the spectrum, is not operational or scientific anything. It's how much my family and friends have responded to this this whole Adventure. I mean, I've been thinking about it for so long that it's a big deal to me. But I'm I knew it was a big deal but seeing how my family and friends have responded and how much they watch Master TV in every shred of information they can read about from the science of the spacewalk that response has been

really surprising to me. What sparked your interest in science, technology, engineering or math? So that is a great question. We get asked this a lot and I actually have a few in different phases in my life. So when I was five, you know, you're kidding, people say, what do you want to do? And I said, I want to be an astronaut, a biologist and a geologist watching parties. That was a pretty big inspiration to me. And I went I went to space camp. I am that person. I was a very big nerd. Still am. So

space camp was a great thing to do. Not everybody can go to space camp but you can have. There's a lot of educational things that kids can do online and then when I was about 12 I started really seriously thinking about what kind of science. My dad took me to a conference on DNA in recombinant DNA technology and that was just something absolutely amazing. I think 11:12 is a great Age 2 real. I start to dive into some specifics of scientific question. And I think one of the things is always to keep kids at the Forefront when we're thinking about not just education

science but real science, and they can usually handle a lot more than we think they can. And so some of the best folks in my lab where people who are undergrads, and even high school students, they can do real experiments, like get them involved a scientific conference. This year old is really not going to be doing it. You know, that's actually interesting that you mention in my science teacher, who's the first person I have doing this. You keep doing well in these classes and you make a great engineer one day and I told her through a lot in my Outreach, but you might

actually thought that meant driving trains. I didn't know what an engineer was, but to this day, Mr. Hargreaves belief in his support is what encouraged me to eventually going to study Engineering in college and graduate school and is the reason that I'm here today. So that that is an important age and I'm with you sending those expectations high and you know they will always surprise you if you give kids information. I believe in that as well be a dancer. All right, so how has being in space? Changed your perspective on Earth? Wow, that is a really big

question and a lot of ways. I guess I'm going to go from the big to the small and I'm going to talk about green things because that's just what popped into my head cuz I love food and food popped into my head. We've had the pleasure of growing a few delicious vegetables here and we eating them. And we joke about going home and having salads, big bowls of greens, but we each have had a fraction of a lie 4 or 1 leave to ourselves and really been able to savor this one piece of Basil, this one piece of red kale or Wasabi and so I think that the next time I sit down in front of

a real salad that I prepared her. I got no at a restaurant. I'm going to try and appreciate every morsel that's in that bowl instead of inhaling, it like I normally will and then in terms of on the on a really large scale, looking out the windows of the cupola and seeing the Earth. And there's so many places I would love to go in to visit I've really started to appreciate the places. I just know I'll never go visit. I was looking at just the open ocean. We were flying from the east coast of Canada and we were going right towards the Bay of Biscay off the coast of France and I took a

picture. It look like a little eyeball with clouds and I just thought I will never be able to visit that but I've been able to see this really neat phenomenon. They are so thinking about all those forms that I'll never go hiking and in all those places on the earth that I'll never visit, but I get to see them from up here. I'll just I will appreciate that for the rest of my life. Yeah, absolutely. And I think we appreciate people who do explore these places on Earth are some places that are difficult to get to. We can see just barely Antarctica and nail places in Patagonia somalia's.

There's some tough places to get to get to and and people do explore these, are her Okay, Kate based on your experience, what things, if any might you do differently when you return home. What's the number one? I am going to enjoy each leaf with my salad, but it's all right, we can't even describe to you. What it feels like to eat a green thing up here that we've grown, you can save it. We're in a really artificial environments and it's cool. But the way that humans react to a completely artificial environment. I think, you know, we've evolved for so many generations, to

be a nature and to respond to Nature. And when I get home or the weather, or anything related planet, has to offer a particular things that are any of that, sensation of not being in an artificial environment. We love this environment, as well. This is our home We even see it on videos sometimes when we go back and I look at it and I think wow that's just what I feel like this is my home. But certainly, the planet is home as well. And I'm going to always try to keep that in the Forefront of my mind and appreciate that. All right.

What do you like to do in your downtime on face Tatian? Well, we have so much of it. I have a really long list. How much time do we have? Do we do we work for you? Hard up here and so down. Time is pretty special. It's important but it is, it is a very important part of working hard up here. You have to have some time to to relax and recuperate. And you know, it's really interesting because I'm a very social and extroverted person on Earth. But up here, when I have down time, I just really enjoy the quiet. I like to read my news and or a book and just

spend time sitting in one place or floating in one place. And so I like to go into the airlock. That's my favorite spot to read and I'll just, you know, turn the pages of a book or the newspaper in, and I could do that for an entire Saturday. Who this is a good one day. Alright, I like listen to I might as well. What are some of the best and worst things about being in a zero-gravity environment? It's incredible. Scientists. And just the way that doesn't actually change the laws of physics

in an environment, where the laws of physics that we understand on Earth controlled by gravity are theirs completely different parameters. So, you know, the way I could toss you the mic or take it back, understanding, how you're going to move in space, it is like you are just in this world that you have never prepared. You really don't prepare what we get a few seconds of zero-g when we fight fly parabolic flights, but It is so different and that changes everything. So it changes the properties of fluids that changes edible experiments here themselves

being an environment that is, you can conceptualize it. But there's a reception where your body is in space, how you move, how you expect other objects to move? And I think, and in the end that is just completely different things. Really easily. Take them to a wall with velcro and sometimes the velcro comes off. And so will find is from Expeditions, you know, 20 expedition to go up here and so you got to keep track of your stuff. It's very easy to lose it and you have to have a spot to put every single

thing down. So the amazing part to microgravity just have to laugh when we find the tickets and yeah that's that is a great one. It there so many things you could say in response to this question so I'm actually not going to say anything. I'm going to take the wise it's so okay here's the worst thing and I'm just going to give an example of what Kate was talking about here is the hardest place to find something that I found and I love but this is one of my favorite games to play on station is going to find lost things, but

here's one of the toughest places to find something that you lose. What's one of the women will never get old? And I know I'm going to miss it one day, do it. Awesome. That was awesome. Microgravity changes, the way made things behave. Some of the different areas of science experiments. You're conducting on the space station or lecture. All right. All right. We'll spare, you will give you the short version. So, biology wise, if you can think about cells are in fluids, right? And the way the fluids change up here is really interesting.

We don't have things like buoyancy driven convection and we don't have cells false falling to the bottom of the tissue culture plate. And if you're into the tissue culture plate. So this really changes, how we would gross else. We've been doing a lot of cell culture and tissue engineering, because we can build bigger structures up here. If we were going to put them in a rotating wall, vessel on the Earth are we would then have fluid Shear forces and so we can do a lot of things that look at cellular Behavior up here. And then our cells are organized into the Big bags of water that are human

beings. Human beings. Chained up here. So we have fluid shifts from our legs up towards our head. There's a lot of physiological changes here at the immune system when it says I'm working on right now is a map of about a thousand samples of the entire microbiome of the space station. We've only gotten through biology here, they're still like like chemistry and physics and I won't keep going but I will say that there's some really good material science studies up here, there's a lot of work on combustion. Combustion is very different on-orbit. We've got some really interesting

experiments on cool Flames like colloids and self-assembly, we can look at mixtures of different materials without that buoyancy, driven convection. And then we've got this incredible platform. So we do a lot of things, like, remote sensing. We've got a lot of experiments on the outside of station, and a lot of really interesting experiments that are observing the Earth and looking at the space environment. So things like space. Haitian and magnetic fields on Earth. You know, there is a lot of really interesting science but there are also some really interesting technology application and

production things going on as well. And just to talk about 2 real quick, the ability to create fiber, optic devices, or grow fiber, optic, cables, and then also, to, to grow Crystal structures like the, the radiation and lights, and getting ready to start another sample and are micro science, glove box to grow these indium iodide crystals, which will be used for radiation detectors. And because the production process now doesn't have to work against gravity, you're able to really make these nice Crystal structures up here, and so, it's also production in addition to science.

Then your personal favorites and why. I am a little biased. I told you earlier that I really liked food in the study called food, physiology and is looking at nutrients and and increasing the amount of Omega fatty acids, lycopene, and some other nutrients that we can get by eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish. And so, one of the reasons I really like this experiment is because they gave me a whole lot of different foods and it allows me to eat the

standard futon station but also to add these other nutrient-rich products in and they vandalize, my, my body blood and other fluids over a few months. Prior to flight, there is a difference, interval samples in flight. And then also they'll check me again after flight and I'll be able to tell how it affects the immune function, my gut biology and also well-being how you feel about the diet as well. And so I like the the comprehensiveness of the study as well. Okay, KK this is a big question. What is station science and research benefit life on Earth and there's a couple

of different tiers, basic research and basic research. Sometimes it's hard to quantify in terms of its benefits. So we got a lot from the Apollo program things that we're using today. 50 years later, we could not have predicted where that technology was going. But the the technology development was mission-driven and some of the things and that the technology that we're testing out today, I don't know where they're going to go and fifty years but certainly having the motivation to work on them having the the

mission drive to work on them and having the the support of the ground teams all working on this girl, which is, it was first to build and fly the International Space Station, and now is to use it as a laboratory. This Spurs, a lot of of research, Innovation and development. The space station as an incredible laboratory. I were doing a lot of basic science. So we were talking about things like combustion. We're doing a lot of things with capillary action and fluid physics. Capillary action is Dino 87 * up here. What it would be on the earth and so

I quit. Talking a little bit about some of these, like, the ZZ plant fibers and structures that you can build in space, it allows us to do things on a bigger scale up here, and so we can learn a lot. About fundamental properties of things in the physical world, things in the biological world. We also have some really much more directed types of research and technology and so it's a very direct question about her example. Are boneless up here are immune system and

that's got absolute immediate relevance to things like osteoporosis on Earth. We have understanding of immune system. Fraction. I'm talking about human and microbial, interaction up here and in, these are really things that are are very interest, big interest in the planet because these are human diseases that that people are experiencing all of the time. Now, we've got some general insights just from the environment that were in. And so, I think there's a there's a lot of here and it goes all the way from very basic research to very applied research. But the really cool thing is, we've

got about two hundred of these experiments. Going at the same time, each one of them has a particular benefit either to our understanding of exploration at how humans are going to be in the future. Where NASA is looking forward to their future exploration and and or almost everything actually has. I used in both of those areas to stay connected with what's the The great question. And I happen to be holding one of them in my hand right now and talking to one of them as well. Do you know, actually I would say Most of

what we used to have to stand form is in our friends and teammates on the ground are Collies on the ground. And so whether that's, you know, sending up media for us movies and TV shows or the newspaper, I like to read my new. So we also have an ability to watch news. They can pipe up a new station to a store or a major events, like the Super Bowl for the inauguration, but my news and so I get a morning and evening, news Digest. And I generally start there and also talking to friends and family getting those updates about what's going on. Those are the primary waste,

one of the best things. is that you can send an email and say planet and will not be able to respond to your email at the

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Victor Glover
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