Let's be honest—astronauts are the rock stars of the science world. These space adventurers still capture the imagination of all of us stuck down here on terra firma*.
You probably know plenty of names. Obviously there's Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk the moon, along with partner in moon-crime Buzz Aldrin. Then there's John Glenn, both the first American to orbit the Earth and the first astronaut to become a congressperson.
Even guys like Apollo 13's Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert get to be played in the movie version by people like Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon (respectively)—and they never even made it where they were supposed to go.
Of course, what do these astronauts all have in common besides their affinity for incredibly long flight? They were doing their space stuff back in the 1960s, when a lot of firsts were happening and there were only a couple things to watch on TV anyway.
Even Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, hasn't flown a mission in forty-plus years. Why did we say American woman and not just woman? The Soviets won that first by twenty years.
In the 21st century, space flight is so relatively common that we don't even realize when astronauts are in orbit. Astronaut Scott Kelly (brother of other astronaut Mark Kelly) set a record in 2016 for the most amount of time spent in space at once, and most people probably assumed NASA forgot he was up there.
Even the iconic Space Shuttle program has been put to bed, now another museum relic for elementary school kids to really want to play on.
Does that mean you won't get talked about? No, it just means that most of the talking will be done in your local paper. Believe us, they'll be thrilled to have a reason to post pictures of space every day. It's a big seller.
*That's Latin for solid earth, not a new planet we've all traveled to and forgotten to invite you to.