The upcoming launch of the first Orion spacecraft test flight Thursday (Dec. 4) is a major milestone for the NASA's plans for future space exploration, so it's no surprise that the agency tapped into social media to spark interest and excitement in the mission. But what may be surprising is who NASA turned to in order to spread the word: Hollywood.
As part of the "I'm On Board" Orion social media campaign (#imonboard), NASA recorded a series of public service announcements with actors familiar to even the most casual science fiction fan. Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Uhura), the Lou Ferrigno of the Incredible Hulk and even Elmo from Sesame Street added their support to NASA's Orion. And the campaign paid off in spades. More than 1 million people signed up to add their names to a small microchip riding on the Orion Exploration Test Flight 1, which launches early Thursday at 7:05 a.m. EST (1105 GMT). Scroll down to see more Orion videos by TV actors, starting with Nichelle Nichols:
Sesame Street's Elmo and Friends
Colin Baker ("Doctor Who")
Erin Gray ("Buck Rogers in the 25th Century")
John Barrowman ("Doctor Who," "Torchwood," "Green Arrow")
Walter E. Jones ("The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers")
Austin St. John ("The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers")
"I'm On Board Orion" Coloring How-To
As part of the "I'm On Board" campaign, NASA invited the public to sign up with a coloring sheet to pledge support. You can still show your support by getting the coloring sheet here: http://go.nasa.gov/1fAYxZS
More NASA Orion social resources:
- Orion Spacecraft Resources for Kids
- Hands-On Orion Spacecraft Projects for Kids
- Orion Collectible Posters for Download
- How to Find an Orion Launch Viewing Party Near You
Watch the 4.5-hour Orion test flight live on Space.com via NASA TV, beginning at 4 a.m. EST (0900 GMT) on Thursday.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com 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 Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, 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 Space.com 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.