NASA hasn’t had much in the way of positive public relations fodder since it mothballed the space shuttles. Remember, not that long ago, when astronauts were every kid’s hero and the space shuttle launch was Must See TV?
Those days are long gone, and, though NASA is still very much hard at work, there’s considerably less gilding on the lily. Folks simply don’t care as much anymore. They are interested in other things. And besides, SpaceX and its competitors are the new media darlings. Trying to accomplish the impossible. Reusable rockets, something NASA long said was impossible.
But for a group of childhood cancer patients in Texas, NASA’s astronauts are every bit as heroic as they were to all the 80s kids who marveled at Space Camp. These brave young people had the opportunity to chat with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Better still, the space traveler was decked out in a hand-painted spacesuit those kids decorated themselves.
This out of this world connection delighted both the kids and the crew of the station. Kate Rubins, the astronaut who wore the suit, dubbed it “Courage” … a reflection of the character trait each of these patients demonstrates as the battle to win the fight against cancer.
It was a fitting role for Rubins, who holds a degree in cancer biology. NASA announced the program would include a Q&A between Rubins and the patients, which should make for a very compelling and heartwarming discussion.
The idea behind the painted suit and the connection with NASA was to create and raise awareness of the therapeutic pairing of art and medicine. Art therapy is a growing aspect of medical care for patients with different levels of physical and mental illness, including emotional trauma and PTSD. But these programs typically don’t receive the notoriety they deserve … or the funding.
This step, working with NASA, is a creative and interesting way for folks to get the word out about the program and raise awareness in the hopes of bringing in increased support.