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astronauts

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'Moon bloopers' from NASA is the space footage we didn't know we needed

Apparently, walking on the moon is harder than it looks.

Astronauts falling on the moon is some stellar entertainment.

When Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, the story of life on Earth was dramatically and forever changed. No longer were we bound to the land on our own planet. We had set foot on another orb in space, broken a new frontier, literally going where no man had gone before.

The words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," spoke to the technological advances that had catapulted the human race from the first sustained, powered human flight to landing a man on the moon in less than 70 years. It was truly an incredible feat.

That "one small step," that people around the world watched on their television sets was seriously momentous. But the steps the world didn't see were genuinely hilarious.


NASA has footage of astronauts trying to walk around on the moon's low gravity, zero atmosphere surface, and apparently, it's a lot harder than it looks. The graceful bouncing of astronauts we've seen in moon landing films belies how easy it was to fall and trip. And once you fall down in a huge space suit in gravity conditions your body isn't used to, it's not so easy to get back up again.

Universal Curiosity shared a montage of "moon bloopers," if you will, sped up 2x for optimal comedic effect. Watch these brilliant space scientists stumble Three Stooges-style as they make their way around the moon:

Eight of the 12 astronauts who have walked on the moon shared recollections of their time on the moon with Forbes in 2019. Nearly across the board, they talked about having a keen understanding of the historic nature of their moon missions, but also being totally focused on the checklists of what they needed to do while they were there. Each Apollo moon mission was limited by time, so there wasn't a lot of opportunity to just goof around.

Some astronaut falls were accidental, including one that nearly cost astronaut Charlie Duke his life during the Apollo 16 mission. While jumping up and down on the moon to see how high he could go—not part of the mission—Duke lost his balance and fell backward onto his fiberglass shell backpack. Thankfully, it didn't crack, but it was a deadly possibility that would have left him without life support and victim to the vacuum of space.

Other falls were planned experiments to see how the conditions on the moon affected human locomotion, providing valuable information for scientists. Still hilarious to watch, though.

This Dark5 documentary segment shares more details about why walking on the moon is such a challenge and the actually quite serious stories behind some of these falls:

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She was raising $2,600 so 100 girls could see 'Hidden Figures.' She just cleared $13,000.

'I figured this movie would be a good starting point to show girls that even when life gets hard, you have to keep going.'

On Dec. 15, 2016, 13-year-old space enthusiast Taylor Richardson had the experience of a lifetime.

She saw a special screening of "Hidden Figures" at the White House alongside the cast of the movie, first lady Michelle Obama, and several NASA astronauts.

From left, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Kevin Costner. Photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani.


Not only was the biopic about Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan — three women who were the unsung heroes behind the first successful NASA missions into space — inspiring to Richardson on many levels, what hit home most for her was what Michelle Obama said about everything they were up against.

"These women couldn’t even drink from the same water fountain or use the same bathroom as many of their colleagues … and folks didn’t always take these women seriously because they were black and also because they were women," Obama explained that night.

The first lady also talked about how few women — and even fewer women of color — there are working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields today.

The experience made Richardson want to do whatever she could to show girls that their STEM skills are not only welcome, but finally being celebrated.

"I've been to four space centers, and not once were these women and their contributions that impacted our space program mentioned," writes Richardson in an email.

Photo via Fox Movies.

She decided to start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to offer 100 girls the chance to see "Hidden Figures" for free in the theater.

"I figured this movie would be a good starting point to show girls that even when life gets hard, you have to keep going," Richardson explains.

She included in her budget goal enough money for each girl to get a snack and a copy of the book on which the movie was based.

Literacy is very important to Richardson, who regularly collects gently used STEM books and donates them to schools and children in need. "I've donated over 3,000 books and read to over 250 kids in Jacksonville about STEM and space," Richardson says.

In just 18 days, she exceeded her goal of $2,600 five times over. That extra  money will go toward more screenings for girls who could use some STEM  inspiration right now.

Richardson with NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle. Photo via Taylor Richardson.

Despite women's growing in STEM work and space exploration these days, there is still a major disparity of women of color in these fields. No doubt the lack of representation in the history books and, until recently, on screen has something to do with that.

While Richardson's idea to provide free movie screenings may seem small, her commitment to changing the game for women of color in STEM is not.

She's far from alone in seeing what the impact a movie like "Hidden Figures" can have on the next generation of girls.

There's a reason "Hidden Figures" has remained #1 at the box office for two weeks straight, beating out blockbusters like "Rogue One." Representation matters — for girls dreaming of being astronauts, women of color who have trouble finding role models, and anyone else who feels left out of history.

Hopefully, thanks to movies like "Hidden Figures," more and more girls will realize there is a place for them in STEM fields.

Richardson, whose goal is to be the first person to walk on Mars, offers some sound advice for girls on the fundraising page: "It's important that girls not only look at the stars but take the steps to reach for them."

Think there's nothing cool about NASA these days? Think again.

NASA does mind-blowing work each and every day.

Despite funding cuts, they push the limits of human exploration, sending men and women to the International Space Station and developing commercial spaceflight capabilities. They're committed to researching and discovering the far reaches of our planet, solar system, universe, and beyond. And don't get me started on their innovations in aeronautics and space technology or the entire plot of "Hidden Figures." NASA is freakin' amazing.


Even their mission statement is cool: "We reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind." If that's not swag, I need a reminder on just what swag is.

Expedition 50 NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson waves farewell before traveling to the International Space Station for a six-month mission. Photo by NASA/Victor Zelentsov/Flickr.

Now, they're doubling down on their status as coolest government agency with their new GIF collection.

NASA launched an official Giphy account to deliver more than 400 mind-melting, out of this world GIFS of their satellite, computer-animated, and space station footage to you, the people. We don't deserve NASA, folks.

If you don't have time to familiarize yourself with all 464 GIFs, I went ahead and curated a collection of 11 that may come in handy for a variety of situations.

1. When you accidentally call a co-worker "mom" and you have to stop what you're doing and leave immediately.

All GIFs via NASA.

2. When you and your squad make a pact to try Meatless Mondays.

It's for the Earth, y'all. Factory farms contribute to climate change in a big way. Plus, all-you-can-eat cheese.

3. When your partner says you can leave a few things at their place.

It will totally fit in the drawer. Trust me.

4. When your really frustrating aunt finally understands why "All lives matter" is problematic AF.

Yes, all people have value, but black people are dying, so we're going to focus our energy and attention on them. It doesn't seem hard, but apparently it's a struggle.

5. When a 23-year-old couple has a $600,000 budget on "House Hunters."

How Sway?

6. When someone says the gender wage gap isn't real but you have the pay stubs.

The proof is in the pocketbook, especially for women of color.

7. When you remember every body is a good body.

You are beautiful, strong, and perfect, with or without the snacks.

8. When you get a new haircut but it looks totally different the next day.

9. When you thought about moving to Canada after the election.

But remembered you and your voice are needed right here.

10. When it's time to break in a new pair of jeans.

11. When you realize that sometimes, blocking and unfriending people on social media is an act of self-care.  

Also helpful when you're texting from the restroom.

Leave the thread, log off, mute, block, or unfollow. Do what you have to do to take good care of yourself.

The next time you're looking for just the right GIF, look no further than the government agency with all the space shuttles and all the answers: NASA.

This GIF collection is a fun, accessible way for people to get a behind-the-scenes look at the research, innovation, and exploration going on at NASA. Whether you're celebrating a new job or marveling at a solar flare, they're the only repeating animations you'll ever need.

Early Friday morning, Peggy Whitson made history as the oldest female astronaut to go into space.

Her record-breaking voyage launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images.


Whitson's achievement is great news and a reminder that people are capable of doing amazing things at any age.

59 women have been to space, and Whitson set the record as the oldest to do so at 56 years old. While it's certainly an achievement, it's far from the first record she's ever set.

Whitson has already racked up 377 days in space — the most of any woman in history — and became the first woman to command the International Space Station back in 2007. She also brought other women along on her journey of busting through career barriers on the way to space. In 2008, Whitson and Pam Melroy became the first two women to dock a space shuttle and the ISS.

But the oldest man to ever go into space was 21 years older than Whitson is now.

Despite Whitson's many accomplishments in the space race, her name probably sounds a lot less familiar to you than the man who holds the record for oldest person in space: astronaut John Glenn, who set the record at the age of 77.

That's one astronomically large gender-age gap.

John Glenn about to make history on the US space shuttle Discovery. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Glenn first made history as the first astronaut to orbit Earth back in 1962. Aside from being an astronaut, he was also a U.S. senator from Ohio, so it's understandable that his name is quite well-known.

Still, it's hard not to wonder why female astronauts like Whitson, who have many records under their belt, get so much less recognition than their male counterparts.

Simply put, in many cases, men were given the opportunity to set records and make space history before women were ever allowed to.

This goes all the way back to the founding of the astronaut program in 1959; NASA didn't start accepting female astronaut candidates until 1978.

While there were women working at NASA when Alan B. Shepard became the first American to make the journey into space on May 15, 1961, at the age of 38, it wasn't until 22 years later, in 1983, that Sally Ride became the first American woman to do so at the age of 33.

Sally Ride, one of the first six female astronaut candidates. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images.

In 1959, there was also a small group of female astronaut candidates called Mercury 13 who were deemed qualified to go into space by a privately funded program, the BBC reported. Unfortunately, NASA turned down Mercury 13 because at the time, astronauts were required to be test pilots first, a job women were not allowed to hold. Tricky little catch-22 there.

On Oct. 11, 1984, astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan became the first woman to do a spacewalk, 19 years after Ed White first ventured outside a spacecraft in 1965.

Kathryn D. Sullivan and her space suit on a 1990 shuttle mission. Photo via NASA/Wikimedia Commons. Ed White on his space walk, June 3, 1965. Photo via NASA.

In 1992, eight years after Sullivan's spacewalk, the first black woman in space, Mae Carol Jemison, made her inaugural trip just nine years after the first black man, Guy Bluford.

This kind of age gap between genders doesn't exist in a vacuum.

The last Oscars season saw an average age difference of 10 years between the male and female nominated actors. This kind of discrepancy is the result of a number of factors, including a drop-off in available roles for women over a certain age and the fact that younger actresses are often cast to play older roles, not to mention the age gap between male and female actors who play romantic pairs on screen, which is even wider.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bryan Cranston, best actor and actress nominees at the 88th Academy Awards. Photos by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

This matters because when we get used to seeing things a certain way, we start to accept that that's just how things are. An alarming example of this turned up in a study conducted in 2014 by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which found that in crowd scenes in movies, women make up about 17% of the crowd — a stat that mirrors the 16.9% of women who held Fortune 500 corporate board seats in 2014 and isn't far off from the 19.4% of women elected to Congress in 2015.

"We just heard a fascinating and disturbing study, where they looked at the ratio of men and women in groups," Davis said on NPR in 2013 when that 17% number came up again. "They found that if there's 17% women, the men in the group think it's 50-50. And if there's 33% women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men."

Just because something feels equal doesn't mean it actually is. Seeing women of all ages, races, and body types playing the same range of roles male actors get to play (and getting paid the same amount) isn't just important because it's nice for people to see people like themselves on screen. It's important because these kinds of patterns subconsciously shape the way we see and interact with the real world around us every day.

The good news: NASA has made huge strides in recent years toward closing its gender gap — and Peggy Whitson is just part of that success.

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson, and Oleg Novitskiy. Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images.

Half of NASA's most recent class of astronauts are women, and they might be among the first humans to venture to Mars. Eileen Collins became the first woman shuttle commander in 1999 and returned to command again in 2006. In 2008, South Korean astronaut Yi So-yeon become her country's first space traveler when she boarded the International Space Station.

Men may have gotten to a lot of the "firsts" when it comes to setting records in space, but there's a whole universe of other records waiting to be set, many of which will probably be achieved by women.

This is what makes Whitson's achievement as the oldest woman in space so worth celebrating. Remember her name. She's changing the way we see the world and what we think women over the age of 50 are capable of. Who knows, maybe 22 years from now, when she's 78, Whitson will break John Glenn's record and become the oldest person ever in space.