World Space Week: Out Of This World Hobbies


World Space Week has been running since Monday, and I thought this would give us a great opportunity to look at the superhumans that are astronauts!

We may think of them as having “The Right Stuff” and being genius engineers and incredibly brave, which they are, but they also have some very ordinary and sometimes interesting hobbies and past times.

Let’s have look at some out the down-to-Earth things they get up to.

Unidentified Flying Objects

Apollo 14 astronaut Ed Mitchell was the sixth man to walk on the Moon.

He was an accomplished test pilot and engineer, but his interests lay in the world of UFOs and telekinesis.

Mitchell secretly arranged with psychic investigators to carry out a number of ESP experiments while en route to the Moon. During the quieter times on the lunar voyage he would try to transmit images to associates back on Earth.

They only had a ten percent success rate!

When he hung up his astronaut boots, he went on to become the founding chairman of the Institute Of Noetic Sciences.

His commander on the Apollo 14 mission, Alan Shepard, indulged in his hobby in the most impressive way . . . he played golf on the Moon!

He had arranged to have a golf club packed to look like a small flag pole. When he struck the ball on the lunar surface, he said perhaps his famous words . . . it went for “miles and miles and miles”.

Helped a bit by the one sixth gravity on the Moon!

Buzz Aldrin’s greatest love, apart from space travel, was scuba diving. And it still is!

It was actually his idea to start underwater training for astronauts. It’s used to help them get the feel of EVAs (extra vehicular activities), or space-walking.

This came in very handy for Buzz in 1981, whilst he was holidaying in the Bahamas.

The James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only” was being shot there. So of course Buzz offered to help with some of the underwater filming.

Who could say no to that?

Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins may be almost 90, but he’s fit as a fiddle and spends his days tending his beloved roses and painting wildlife scenes.

Life on the International Space Station (ISS)

They may be zooming round the world 250 miles up and at a speed of 17,150 miles per hour, but that doesn’t stop the crew of the ISS being just like the rest of us sometimes.

Regular movie nights (with pizza) are common, and who could forget Chris Hadfield’s musical performances with his guitar while in orbit?

Another NASA astronaut, Kjell Lindgren, took his bagpipes to the ISS with him — and liked nothing better than playing “Amazing Grace”.

What a way to be woken up in the morning!


For more information on spotting the ISS in the night sky, click here.

Click here for a list of upcoming rocket launches.

For some of Tracey’s space book recommendations, click here.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!