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NASA Astronaut in Orbit Chats With Child Cancer Patients Who Handpainted Her Spacesuit


Some youngsters from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston got the opportunity to chat with an astronaut as she floated 250 miles above the earth in a spacesuit designed by their fellow patients.

Expedition 49 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins, who has a degree in cancer biology, answered questions and posed for several of the young artists on Friday from the International Space Station as part of the US Space Suit Art Project, which has turned the handiwork of creative young patients into actual spacesuits.

In the fall of 2015, MD Anderson Cancer Center partnered with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to design a hand-painted spacesuit decorated by patients recovering at the hospital to raise awareness about the benefits of pairing art with medicine, NASA wrote in a statement.

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Rubins, retired astronaut Nicole Stott, and other NASA personnel have lent their artistic talents to this project and worked as mentors to the patients over the past year.

"This project has really inspired me," said Rubins during the chat. "It was an amazing opportunity to get a chance to paint with you guys. I remember this suit when it was just a blank canvas and all of you guys painted on it."

Thanks to the lack of gravity where she's currently spending her days, Rubins was able to do an impressive 360 degree forward roll to give the full effect of the colorful space garb.

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"When we were unpacking all the cargo, I said let us look out for this spacesuit. This is so important and all of these kids have made some beautiful art," said Rubins.

Three spacesuits, HOPE, COURAGE and UNITY, were created during the project. Spacesuit UNITY was created at cancer hospitals in Germany, Russia, and Japan with collaboration from astronauts from NASA’s international partners, ESA (European Space Agency), the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Rubins wore the COURAGE suit during the conversation.

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