Astronaut Stan Love visited the KEXP studio yesterday and, as John mentioned on-air on the Morning Show, everyone was geeked way out. The KEXP conference room was packed as Astronaut Love (well, I guess he just goes by Stan) gave a presentation and answered some questions about two seemingly unrelated topics: space and independent music. In addition to the two spacewalks he performed earlier this year while attaching a new laboratory to the outside of the International Space Station (ISS), he also works in public relations for NASA. Naturally, he usually speaks to science and technology oriented crowds, but recently he’s been able to choose his PR destinations. One of the reasons he chose KEXP was to present to the station the copy of Live at KEXP Volume Three that he took with him to the ISS. Our little CD orbited 200 miles above the earth 203 times and traveled about 5,296,832 miles in Stan’s thirteen day trip. He also brought back an amazing picture of him, with the CD floating in zero gravity and the Earth in the background, but that’s a classified photo. Act like I never mentioned it.
Stan lived in Seattle from 1987 to 1993 and stumbled upon KCMU while he was attending grad school at the University of Washington. Since then, he’s been a big independent music fan, a position that’s challenging in his current home of Houston, where pickin’s for non-commercial music, as you might guess, are slim. When Stan isn’t keeping up on his robotic arm training or participating in some suited underwater practice sessions, he’s just like the rest of us: he streams KEXP while he checks and deletes email.
If you own Live at KEXP Volume Three (and if you don’t, you need to have a good, long think with yourself right now), you’re probably familiar with the space penguin artwork [by Oksana Badrak]. By a bizarre coincidence, the training class of astronauts that Stan was in was dubbed “The Penguins” because it was assumed that they would never fly — the previous classes were large and NASA had an overstock of astronauts on their hands. So, when Stan received the Live at KEXP CD, something was a little meant to be, and that penguin did fly.
I personally believe that Stan’s next career move should be to pioneer the Orbital Travel Agent industry. Apparently, space travel is “not that hard on you.” He offered some great tips on how much time one should set aside to accommodate for nausea and acclimation for a sub-orbital hop (four minutes), orbital flight (about two weeks) and a trip to Mars (nine months travel each way, six months on the planet). Of course, it would be helpful if a trip to the ISS didn’t set a person back about $30 million, which is the Russian team’s going rate.
Finally, Stan shared with us a fantastic “space playlist” that he put together for his journey which showed his good taste and depth of music appreciation. Sadly, that too is classified. I know, right? I can’t reprint a playlist? Trust no one. Act like I never mentioned it.