Today’s astronaut feature celebrates Bob Behnken, a veteran of two shuttle flights. Selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000, he has logged more than 708 hours in space and performed six spacewalks.
Behnken, who served as NASA’s Chief Astronaut from July 2012 to July 2015, flew STS-123 in 2008 and STS-130 just two years later.
His first mission (STS-123) was the 25th International Space Station assembly mission and lasted just under 16 days in space. His second mission (STS-130) was the 32nd ISS assembly mission and lasted just under 14 days, traveling over five million miles in orbit.
Behnken performed three spacewalks during each of his missions, and both had night launches/landings.
Behnken is currently training for his third flight, a Commercial Crew mission slated to launch in the near future.
Before he launches, we’re counting down three fun facts this Friday about Behnken!
1. He will fly the first crewed mission aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle.
Behnken will be one of the first Commercial Crew program astronauts to fly into space.
Earlier this year, the SpaceX Demo-1 mission launched to the ISS, demonstrating the capabilities of the spacecraft. After the success of the uncrewed test flight, NASA and SpaceX are now turning their sights to the next mission, the SpaceX Demo-2 flight.
However, this time there will be one major difference: astronauts will be along for the ride.
Behnken will be one in a crew of two that will fly aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which will mark the first crewed test flight for that vehicle.
While a launch date hasn’t yet been scheduled, it is likely that the launch will either take place at the end of this year or sometime next year if all goes well.
SpaceX and NASA are generating a lot of excitement for the upcoming launch with the release of some new images of the SpaceX spacesuit designs. After the success of the Demo-1 mission, Behnken shared some SpaceX shots of him in his sleek, new-age spacesuit design.
But even after all that, I’m super excited about what my future w/@NASA holds! Check out these cools shots @SpaceX shared with those of us scheduled to fly on #CrewDragon! pic.twitter.com/uVIqgY9RfJ
— Bob Behnken (@AstroBehnken) March 23, 2019
2. Behnken will bring the world-famous Zero-G indicator ‘Little Earthy’ back home from the ISS
When the SpaceX Demo-1 mission launched to the ISS earlier this year, it had a special passenger named ‘Little Earthy’.
Super high tech zero-g indicator added just before launch! pic.twitter.com/CRO26plaXq
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2019
The small plush toy, used as SpaceX’s “super high-tech zero-g indicator,” was added by Elon Musk shortly before launch.
Once the Crew Dragon reached the ISS, ‘Little Earthy’ was welcomed aboard. Astronauts have continued to share the plush globe’s experiences in space on social media. But this has left many wondering, when will ‘Little Earthy’ return home to Earth?
In a video released by NASA earlier this year, Behnken was notified that he will return the plush planet back home. While users on social media and fans everywhere have grown to love watching ‘Little Earthy’ in space, Behnken will bring the third “crew member” back to Earth at the end of the Demo-2 mission.
3. He thought we would have personal hovercraft by this point in time.
On Oct. 21, 2015, the world paused to ponder whether a favorite sci-fi movie made the correct predictions. “Back to the Future” made a lot of assumptions about what the world would look like and what would be going on in the year 2015.
When the year finally came around, Behnken and fellow Commercial Crew astronaut Suni Williams, weighed in. Watch Behnken and Williams talk “Back to the Future” with NASA in the short clip below: