On Wednesday, three humans left earth and launched into space aboard the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft.
Oleg Kononenko (Russian Federal Space Agency), Kjell Lindgren (NASA), and Kimiya Yui (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA) will spend the next five months living and conducting research aboard the International Space Station as members of Expedition 44 and 45.
As geeks, we’re always excited by space missions. But this one is better than usual for a few reasons:
1) Kjell Lindgren. This guy is a huge book geek.
“First of all, books are fun to read—space history and science fiction captured my imagination and challenged me to pursue my goals.”
—From “Books Have Paved My Path to Space” (Reading Today, August 2014)
Yes, he’s a total science fiction and fantasy fan.
Here are some of his favorite authors: Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Ernest Cline, Joe Haldeman, George R.R. Martin, Kim Stanley Robinson, Patrick Rothfuss, J.K. Rowling, Neal Stephenson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Connie Willis, and Andy Weir (Source 1, Source 2).
Needless to say, we’re super excited that Lindgren will be a Guest of Honor at this year’s Worldcon, participating virtually in Sasquan while on the International Space Station.
If that’s not enough, Lindgren is also a huge Star Wars fan, and came up with the idea for the Star Wars-themed Expedition 45 mission poster.
Expedition 45 starts in September and is scheduled to end in December… 4 days after the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The launch even included our favorite droid:
— ISS Research (@ISS_Research) July 22, 2015
2) A paper crane connection?
In Packing for Mars, author Mary Roach describes JAXA’s astronaut selection process.
“For the next hour and a half, the men and women who vie to become Japan’s next astronauts, heroes to their countrymen, will be making paper cranes.”
—From Packing for Mars
JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui was one of two astronauts selected by JAXA in 2009, making it likely that he was part of that selection process.
3) An emblem for book lovers. Finally, take a look at this awesome mission insignia for Expedition 45!
— Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell) March 5, 2015
How could you not be excited!
Space Station Expedition 44, which began with the recent Soyuz launch, runs through September, followed by Expedition 45.
You can stay up to date with the mission on NASA’s YouTube channel, the International Space Station blog or by following Lindgren (@astro_kjell), Yui (@astro_kimiya), the ISS (@Space_Station) and NASA (@NASA) on Twitter.