NASA Podcasts

NE@Hometown Heroes
› Download Vodcast (333MB)
NE@Hometown Heroes

Astronaut Mike Massimino’s visit to New York City
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- New York Fire Museum
- New York Hall of Science
- Home plate & The New York Mets

If you follow Astronaut Mike Massimino on Twitter (Astro_Mike), then you are well aware of his exploits in space and back here on Earth. Of course, 147 characters don’t quite do justice to his recent trip to his home town of New York City. In between taxi rides that achieved more Gs than liftoff, Astronaut Mike met with many enthusiastic fans at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the New York City Fire Museum and the New York Hall of Science. And after taking it into space, Astro_Mike returned a very important piece of baseball history to the New York Mets. He’s a true Hometown Hero.

WOMAN: How does it feel to be home?

MIKE: It feels good. I always like coming here.

FRANKLIN: Where are we?

CHRIS: Tell us where we are, Matt.

MATT: We are at the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum in New York City.

BLAIR: It’s formally the USS Intrepid.


BLAIR: Now it’s been converted into a museum.

FRANKLIN: We’re on the starboard elevator of the former USS Intrepid, where planes were loaded up to topside to be launched.

CHRIS: What’s behind us right here?

BLAIR: That is a mock up of a Gemini capsule. They recovered Gemini capsule was on the USS Intrepid years ago. That happens to be a mockup of the Gemini capsule.

CHRIS: Right, a flight test article.

BLAIR: Interestingly enough, inside sooner or later Mike Massimino is going to give a presentation about his recent STS-125 mission. He’s going to talk to some kids, sign some autographs. I’m hoping later we can get him to jump in a mockup of the Gemini and maybe do a splash. Do you think he’d be up for that?

CHRIS: I’d like to see you splash off of the deck.

[Blair screaming/laughing]

BLAIR: Ron, in post, do you think you could make that scream sound less girly?


CHRIS: We’re going to check out Mike Massimino. You’re watching NASA EDGE.

FRANKLIN: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

MIKE: Good morning. Thanks very much for coming. It is a pleasure for me to be here. I came here when the place first opened up. I was much younger. I went to college just down the street. I would come here and visit every once and a while for a bit of inspiration. It’s very meaningful for me to be here today as an astronaut visiting and getting to talk to you. It’s a great place to be.

MIKE: The question is how do we train to do our spacewalks. Since the Hubble telescope is in space, how do we practice to get ready for it since it’s not with us? It’s up there. The first time we see it is when we get there. We have a couple replicas of it. We have an exact replica we use in a water tank. We have a gigantic pool. It’s the largest pool in the world. It’s 200 feet long, 100 feet wide and 40 feet deep. We have other mockups as well as a mockup at the Goddard Space Flight Center that we work on. It’s amazing how well that prepares you for your work. In fact, my first flight, when I got to the Hubble, I remember thinking to myself as I was closing the door, that was the first time that I had ever seen it. I never saw the Hubble before it was launched. I had never been in space before so this was the first time I had seen it. As I was closing the door, I felt I had done it a hundred times. That was a picture taken of me after my second spacewalk. I’m smiling because everything worked.

MAN: What kind of mental stress do you deal with going up into space?

MIKE: It’s pretty stressful. One thing you don’t want is to screw up. Earlier in that spacewalk things weren’t going well and I wasn’t smiling but at the end I was happy.

MIKE: The Intrepid Museum was good. It all was good. The Intrepid museum was fun. It was fun doing the interviews.

MIKE: Do we have any Mets fans here?

[people cheering]

MIKE: Any baseball fans here? It’s okay to be a Yankee fan too. We all have our own favorite teams. We have a bit of a rivalry and what we can do to honor our teams in space. I took a home plate from Shea Stadium because you know they tore down Shea Stadium just like they tore down Yankee Stadium last year.

MIKE: Shea is gone! Man, they really ripped it down, didn’t they?

MIKE: That’s the actual home plate used at Shea Stadium. I flew it in space. I’m going to give it back to the team tomorrow night.

MAN: Have you ever encountered a life threatening experience or situation when you were in space?

MIKE: Not in space but in New York City, yes.

[crowd laughing]

MIKE: Question is has astronaut training gotten easier or harder compared to the earlier missions? Since I am a guy that’s there now, it’s much harder but if you ask the guys from back then they’d say it’s much easier now.

WOMAN: How do people find you?

MIKE: I twittered in the taxicab coming over here this morning and wrote I was coming here today. My username is Astro_Mike. I twittered during the space flight too. I’ve been doing it since the flight. People seem to be so interested. I’ll keep doing it.

MIKE: The Fire Museum was cool and getting to see those men. Seeing the Chief of the Fire department was cool. I haven’t seen him for a few years. He’s gotten a promotion and now he’s in charge of the whole thing. That was very meaningful to be there.

CHIEF CASSANO: Mike, I’ve never said these words to anybody before. It’s good to have you back on the planet.


MIKE: It’s good to be back. Thank you.

CHIEF CASSANO: On behalf of the officers and members of the FDNY, we were deeply touched when we learned that Mike Massimino, as you heard has ties to the department, on his most recent space mission in May flew an American flag in honor of fallen 343 members of the department, who made the supreme sacrifice while saving others on September 11th.

MIKE: One thing I was able to take was a hat. They allowed us to take one hat, only one hat. When you think about that, it may seem like a very simple thing but this is the hat you are going to where throughout your mission. This is the hat you are going to have with you when you take your photos, when you’re working the robot or getting ready to do your spacewalk. If you’re going to have a hat on, it’s going to be this one hat. It’s a big decision. Let me show you the hat I took. This is the hat I took. I’m going to put it on now. I did that in honor of my dad and all you folks in the department as an honor to them. This is the hat I wore and the one I was able to take with me. I really appreciate the opportunity to come here today and be with all of you.

MIKE: I think it all was good. The library today was a nice group of people. The Hall of Science is a great place to go. Every family in New York should stop by and see it.

MIKE: What happens to drinks in space? Liquid in space floats around. It’s interesting. It kind of globs together in a ball. What we’re demonstrating here…. Where’s your goofy camera. What we’re demonstrating is not just your normal putt-putt game here, right?

WOMAN: That’s right.

MIKE: This is large velocity. We have to try to hit the golf ball with just the right amount of velocity; too little velocity, you don’t make it to orbit. Too much, you go shooting off into space and lost forever. I just got a hole in one. Where were you?

CAMERAMAN: We’ll do it again.

MIKE: I can’t do it again! It will take me another hour. We don’t have that much time. I got it on the first try.

BLAIR: It’s still orbiting.

MIKE: It’s a reentry demonstration here.

MIKE: Try to find something you really like. Don’t do something just because. Do it because you really like it, then you don’t mind all the hard work you have to do. What I’m saying is if you really want to be an astronaut, you should pursue it with as much energy as you have. Work hard and don’t get discouraged if things don’t go right. I had a tough time. I got a lot of education but it wasn’t easy. I had to work really hard to get through college and MIT. It wasn’t that easy but I really wanted to do it and was willing to put up with whatever I needed to do to get there. Same becoming an astronaut, it took me four tries to be an astronaut. I had to apply four times. It didn’t happen on the first time. Whether you want to be an astronaut, a doctor, a scientist, or a teacher or a lawyer or professional baseball player or whatever it is, it needs to be your passion. Work as hard as you can at it. If there are some future astronauts out there, it can happen. That’s what I really wanted to do and I was lucky enough to become one. I would encourage you to do that as well. Whatever your dream is, I think you guys and gals should pursue those things.

MIKE: I just twittered that we just came from the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York, near the site of the New York World’s Fair. It’s a wonderful place. I’ve seen it on the Discovery Channel. It’s one of the top 10 interactive museums in the country. It was great. I wish we could have stayed there longer and played around with the exhibits they had. But we have to go have some fun at the ball game, which I’m going to twitter about now. I’m on my way to Citi Field, which is where the Mets play now. They use to play at Shea Stadium. Do you guys know who Shea Stadium was named after? No idea, right?

WOMAN: Mr. Shea.

MIKE: It was named after Mr. Shea. Bill Shea, who helped bring national league baseball back to New York after the Dodgers and the Giants moved to California. He was instrumental in getting the Mets established in New York. Everyone loved him so much they named the ballpark after him. They tore Shea Stadium down and built this new place, Citi Field, and we’re going to return the home plate from Shea Stadium that we flew in space to the Mets.

MIKE: Uncle Lou, have you seen the plate?


MIKE: Come see the plate. This is it. Isn’t this cool.

CHRIS: Mike, do you want to explain the dimensions of this again?

MIKE: Explain the dimensions. I looked up online the size of a major league home plate. They measure 17 inches this way and 17 inches that way. Our locker is about 17 ½ inches. I thought we had enough room for it. But I forgot to include this black part which makes it about 19 inches wide so it wouldn’t fit. Ethan, did you know this, that we separated the rubber here? We separated the black part. In the pictures, it’s just the white. We glued it back on. You’re okay with that, right?

ETHAN: Oh, yeah.

MIKE: Thank goodness. Everyone was telling Ethan about what we were going to do. He was like we just trust you Mike. Do whatever you need to do.

ETHAN: You have rocket scientists working on the home plate.

MIKE: We did. We had a bunch of PhD’s inside Don Pettit’s garage working on this.

ETHAN: We knew we were in good shape.

MIKE: Yeah, it worked out.

CHRIS: Did you use stir friction welding?

MIKE: No. We used the glue. We used glue.

MIKE: There are some other places to go and see. It’s a big city. Don’t forget to come back.

› Download Vodcast (333MB)