Have you always wanted to experience what it’s like to be an astronaut but without the queasy upshot of actually shooting into space? Then we’ve got news for you! Only around 550 people have been to outer space (like, ever!).  But many more can and do participate in simulated space missions right here on Earth—and it turns out they’re super important. While the mission brief might require a little imagination, these analog astronauts perform real science and research, and sometimes go on to become actual high-flying space travelers. And, as it turns out, these virtual versions really capture the (ahem) atmosphere of living and working on orbit (with slightly different views).

One such analog outpost, HI-SEAS, located on Hawai’i, runs simulated space missions to the Moon and Mars to help answer critical questions about what to do and how to do it when we get there. In this episode, we talk to the center’s director, Dr. Michaela Musilova, and one of their former analog astronauts who just this September flew her own crazy-cool and crazy-real mission in outer space as part of the Inspiration 4 crew, Dr. Sian Proctor! That’s right—we knew her way back when.

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