'If the Dinosaurs Had a Space Program They'd Still Be Here'

By Rebecca J. Rosen

And other little gems from astronaut Ron Garan's recent Reddit crowd-sourced interview

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@astro_ron/Twitter/i>

Being an astronaut isn't what it used to be. At least not in the case of NASA space-traveler Ron Garan. Garan is an astronaut 2.0 -- not a distant hero but a connected one, putting modern social media to use in telling his story about what it's like to travel in Earth's orbit. While circling the Earth last year, Garan, or @Astro_Ron as we call him here at The Atlantic, tweeted pictures of his five-month adventure on the International Space Station, keeping his tens of thousands of Twitter followers up to date on the views outside his space-station window. Now, in another social-media foray, Garan took to Reddit yesterday, in a late-night "ask me anything" session, which has garnered more than 4,000 comments. Below, a few of the best gems from the conversation, which together present a fun picture of the 21st-century space voyager, and of the Reddit community too.

First things first, Reddit wants to know about the aliens.

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But no, in all seriousness, Garan says he has not seen any aliens, though one Redditor is skeptical.

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Many of the questioners asked Garan about his time spent in space and the effect of it on his body. His answers?

He grew 1.5 inches.

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He worked out on specialized space work-out equipment.

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He saw 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours.

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He surfed the Internet, like the rest of us.

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He drank coffee made out of his (and his fellow astronauts') urine.

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He looked at pictures of his family and listened to CDs. (Okay, that one is a little 20th century. CDs? Really? We jest.)

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Commenters also wanted to know about his arrival back to Earth, which Astro_Ron described as "going over Niagara Falls in a barrel (that's on fire) followed by a high speed crash."

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He noted elsewhere that the return from orbit lasted only four hours! Less time than a cross-continental flight.

Garan also got into a bit of space policy, arguing that we should only set our sights on Mars once we've colonized the moon.

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Though he wasn't calling for a Mars colony, Garan did say he'd be willing to travel to Mars, and jokingly quoted his colleague Don Pettit, saying that if the dinosaurs had done so, they'd still be here.

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In the end, Garan and the Redditors had a fun but not entirely smooth ride: One quickly read question had Garan trumpeting efforts to blow up the moon.

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Whoops. And with that, it was time to sign off and go to bed.
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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/if-the-dinosaurs-had-a-space-program-theyd-still-be-here/254873/