Opening Access To Space A Bit Further

Students to Sign and Speak to NASA, ESA Astronauts in Orbit, NASA

"Space-savvy students from across the nation who are deaf, blind, hearing and visually impaired and their mentors will have a unique opportunity this week to connect with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The Earth-to-space call will air live at 10:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday, May 19, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency's website."

Keith's note: I am certainly happy to see this. FWIW I spent a decade employed as a professional Sign Language interpreter - so I have a keen interest in things like this. in 2011 I noticed that the images and video of Robonaut-2 on the ISS certainly looked like it was signing or at least capable of doing so. So I posted a suggestion that they might program it to speak some ASL and reach an audience among taxpayers that is usually over looked. On 13 March 2012, Robonaut-2 said "hello world" in American Sign Language (ASL). I am told that the idea for this came from my suggestion posted on NASA Watch. How cool. Alas, the @AstroRobonaut tweet NASA PAO put out said "Did you catch that? I don't have a voice, but I sent you a message -- Hello world ... in sign language!" Um, news flash: hearing impaired people certainly have voices and they speak using ASL - so Robonaut-2 had a voice and was speaking. Just sayin'

Back in 2010 NASA was making frequent mention of Tracy Caldwell Dyson's knowledge of ASL. She even recorded a video in orbit. So I responded to an offer from NASA PAO for the media to interview her in orbit and offered to conduct the interview partially in ASL. I suggested that we'd tape my side at NASA. NASA PAO declined my request - no reason given. Oh well. BTW the first signed message from orbit was done by Bill Readdy on STS-42 in 1992.

FWIW if you sign while weightless in just the right way you can exert a gyroscopic effect on your body orientation. I did it on a ZeroG flight. I also signed a short phrase while pulling 6.2Gs in a centrifuge. A very, very short phrase.

Update: a video of the even is now online below:

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on May 19, 2021 12:25 AM.

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