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Stump the astronaut! 5 Questions for Clayton Anderson

0923 clayton anderson book coverWhat on earth — or the moon — would make astronaut Clayton Anderson make this face at us?

The NASA alum answers many of your burning space questions in our new favorite book “The Ordinary Spaceman.”

His story inspired the crowd at Momentum and he gave us some insight on exploring the universe.

We almost stumped him with our hard-hitting Q&A, but this “ordinary” spaceman was able to handle it.

Q Can you see buildings from space?
A With the naked eye – no. Today, with the Cupola [observation area on the International Space Station], you can see about a quarter of the earth. It’s like looking through binoculars in reverse. You can see airports, dammed lakes, the desert, clouds and greens. Not until you put a camera in that hole, can you see the buildings. I took a photo of the pyramids. When you’re coming over Africa, you can’t see the pyramids, but there’s a white spot in contrast with the yellow of the desert, so you get to the window, and as a white spot comes, you take that with your 800mm lens. There are three dots and then when you blow it up and there are the pyramids.

Q After 167 days in space, what’s your favorite building on earth?
A Is this stump the astronaut? The Nebraska Capitol Building. It’s unique in architecture and it’s unique in how it hosts a unicameral legislature. It features the Sower [statue] on the top of the building that’s part of my logo now. In that building, I returned a Nebraska State flag that flew in space for them to display and I gave a Fisher Space Pen to the former Secretary of State. That’s a very old building, it probably needs Honeywell technology.

Q Is there a future for buildings in space?
A Buildings in space are part of the future, whether they be inflatable or something else. You have to have to have some place to shelter you. We should work concurrently go to the moon and build a lunar base as we go to Mars. My question is: How? Why not do a lunar base and figure it out before we go to Mars. 

Q Should Pluto have been downgraded to a dwarf planet? 
NO! Pluto is a planet in my book. 

Q What do you think of movies in space? 
A I don’t hate space movies — they make me laugh. I recently wrote a review about “The Martian.” In “Gravity,” Sandra Bullock, in a tank and Spanx and at that time my interest in the film went way up.

Read more about Clayton Anderson in his autobiographical book “The Ordinary Spaceman,” available now on For more, visit his website and follow him on Twitter

About the author

Sara Glassman