NASA Astronaut Helps Launch TV's 'Big Bang Theory' Finale Tonight

Astronaut Massimino on "The Big Bang Theory"
Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Massimino (right) poses for a photo with Big Bang Theory actor Simon Helberg and another actor during a break from filming the season finale of CBS' Big Bang Theory (Image credit: Mike Massimino (via Twitter as @Astro_Mike))

An astronaut turned actor will help the cast of TV's "The Big Bang Theory" launch a character into the final frontier tonight (May 10) during the show's season finale.

Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, who had a cameo on the CBS sitcom in February, will resume his role (as himself) during tonight's season finale, which features aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz (played by Simon Helberg) facing a wedding and his own launch into space.

This week, Massimino has been posting photos online via Twitter (where he writes as @Astro_Mike) of himself with Helberg wearing spacesuits, as well as with "The Big Bang Theory" executive producer Bill Prady. Today, he reminded his followers to tune into the show.

"It should be a blast!" wrote Massimino, who was the first astronaut ever to send a Twitter post from space and has more than 1.2 million followers.

Massimino's appearance tonight and earlier in the show's season follows a story arc in which Helberg's Howard trains for a trip to the International Space Station after an experiment he designed was picked to fly in space. The character has also been juggling the duties of his upcoming wedding to fiancée Bernadette, portrayed by actress Melissa Rauch.[10 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows Ever]

"My character is going to space, and the mission has gotten sort of moved around and ends up conflicting with our wedding date," Helberg said in a behind-the-scenes video released by CBS.

"I don't want him getting on that rocket without a band on my finger," Rauch added. "I don't need him doing things with aliens and getting out of control. I want to lock it down."

In one of Massimino's photos, the astronaut, Helberg and a third actor are dressed in what appear to be Russian Sokol spacesuits and packed inside a Soyuz spacecraft.

Astronaut trivia fans take note: While Massimino is a veteran of two spaceflights, both were aboard NASA space shuttles and visited the Hubble Space Telescope. Massimino, like the Howard character, has never flown to the International Space Station.

In an earlier episode, Massimino helped give the Howard character an astronaut nickname (it's "Fruit Loops"). Massimino's nickname, unsurprisingly, is "Mass."

Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Massimino (right) poses for a photo with Big Bang Theory star Simon Helberg (center) and Executive Producer Bill Prady at the Paley Center in Los Angeles, Calif. (Image credit: Mike Massimino (via Twitter as @Astro_Mike))

Massimino is one of several space-themed guest stars on "The Big Bang Theory" this season. Last month, actor Leonard Nimoy of "Star Trek" fame lent his voice to the Spock action figure of the show's Leonard character (Jim Parsons), with renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking later appearing in a cameo role.

In "The Big Bang Theory," the characters primarily work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., near NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Scientists at JPL and other NASA centers are reportedly big fans of the science-themed sitcom, according to past reports.

Massimino's episode of "The Big Bang Theory" will air Thursday (May  10) at 8/7 p.m. Central. Check local listings.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.