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SYFY WIRE New York Comic Con 2021

NYCC gets space-y as NASA technologists and an astronaut talk future of space travel (and aliens!)

By James Comtois
Astronaut Getty Images NYCC

Two technologists and one astronaut from NASA gave space travel enthusiasts a taste of what they were all working on to improve our off-world missions. And while they are indeed working on some rather spectacular things, sadly, there is apparently no anti-gravity room. At least, not yet. 

Speaking at New York Comic Con 2021 on Friday, NASA space suit engineer Lindsay Aitchison told attendees that she’s been focused on making improvements to astronauts’ suits. “We want everything to be more autonomous and not reliant on mission control,” she said, adding that NASA is working on such improvements from creating a head-up display to expand the “sizing range of our space suits.” 

“It’s an entire personal spacecraft,” Aitchison said.

While Aitchison and her team are working to improve astronauts’ suits, NASA roboticist and panelist Zakiya Tomlinson is diligently upping the U.S. space exploration agency’s robotics game. 

“There's going to be a lot that robotics will allow to help us explore,” Tomlinson said, adding that her team is “making sure we’re testing things in a safe way,” especially since their robotics, if improperly tested, “would put a person through a wall.” 

Tomlinson added that there’s a lot of overlap between robotics and astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). “All of them work together to accomplish the mission.” 

This robotic technology will also be what helps take the lunar lander to the moon’s South Pole. 

NASA Space Technology for Humans

The third panelist, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, said she’s “excited about the lunar lander,” reminding attendees that “there are 50 people working behind the scenes on a mission with two astronauts.”

“Every day is different,” she said about her job, adding that as an astronaut, you have to be an expert on everything. 

When an attendee asked Moghbeli if she believed in extraterrestrial life, she said she did. 

“I think there's got to be more life out there, given how big the universe is,” Moghbeli said. “It's crazy to think we're the only planet out there that has life. So, it's out there, we just have to find it.” 

Aitchison agreed with this assessment. 

And when asked if they have a favorite conspiracy theory about NASA, Aitchison said: “I get asked a lot about where the anti-gravity room is,” before adding, that sadly, no such room exists. 

Tomlinson also most likely broke some hearts when she confessed at the panel that NASA doesn’t “actually have a laser that shoots aliens.” 

In describing the work that they do at NASA, they all expressed overwhelming enthusiasm. 

“It’s such an honor,” said Moghbeli, adding that it’s also so important to let “future generations see what’s possible.”

“We're designing [things] for places that we've never been to before,” Aitchison said. “There are no wrong ideas. There are no wrong answers.”

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of New York Comic Con 2021