Tag: space

Scotland’s First Space Pilot Took Children’s Book With Him Into Space!

On February 22nd, 2019, the first Scottish person went into space. His name was David Mackay and he was inspired at an early age when he was given a book in his small village back in the 60s. According to the BBC he was given the book Exploring Space  as a reward for his good attendance in Sunday school in 1964. David Mackay revealed he was inspired by the book to become a pilot and eventually travel into space. His first dream was fulfilled by becoming a test pilot and eventually, the second was also completed when he became the Chief Pilot of Virgin Galactic.



A spaceship flies low over the Earth's atmosphere in the vacuum of space

Image Via BBC

Mackay joined the RAF in the 1990s and worked with them as a military/test pilot for sixteen years. After that, he flew an Airbus and Boeing 747 passenger craft before becoming Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot, helping to push the company forward to offer flights into space itself. When he took a ‘space plane’ out of Earth’s atmosphere, he guided it almost 56 miles above our planet. When he went up there, he took Exploring Space with him, showcasing the effect and great impact the book had on his life. Mackay’s journey is inspiring, showing the impact a book can have on you, no matter how big or small, and showcasing how one can follow their dreams from reading.

We hope to see Mackay continue to fly, journeying into the final frontier beyond the confines of Earth,  with his trusted childhood favorite by his side! Maybe someday, we’ll be flying on one of his space planes and journey upward on a galactic vacation!

Are there any books that inspired you at a young age? Tell us in the comments! Maybe you have a similar story to David Mackay.



Featured Image Via BBC

It’s Space Day! Check Out These 5 Stellar YA Sci-Fi Reads

Whether or not you believe we’ve actually set foot on the moon (honestly, my preferred conspiracy theories are of the death-faking variety), it’s easy to see that our desire to reach for the stars is so fundamentally human. This insatiable curiosity for the universe is perhaps the same need that drives us to create art, to tell stories. The least explored frontiers aren’t always further and further away—they can exist within the remotest places in our own bodies and hearts, things we’ve thought and felt but have never been able to express. There’s nothing quite like reading that one searing line in your favorite new novel just to realize that someone finally understands—and that now, so do you.

Today, we celebrate Space Day. An annual holiday celebrated the first Friday of May, it exists to honor the achievements of space exploration and encourage young people to enter careers in science and engineering. (We’re guessing ‘Get Paid a Liveable Salary Day’ didn’t have quite the same ring to it.) But jokes aside, these five YA novels share the same purpose: to capture our collective wonder, which, when put to task, is a pretty powerful thing.

Grab one of these books, lie back, space out, & enjoy.


1. The Disasters by M. K. England

'The Disasters' by MK England

Queer characters?? And a queer author?? Everyone needs to give The Disasters some serious love. M.K. England offers readers a fun, fast-paced romp around the galaxy with an extremely entertaining (and diverse) cast of characters. England’s interplanetary colonies were extremely well-realized; clearly, England went beyond futuristic moon bases that look like the inside of an Apple store and neon Star Wars lasers. All of the colonies seem rich and grounded with culture, and when have you last read a YA where the basis for the fictional world was African / Middle Eastern culture? (That is, besides Children of Blood and Bone) An extremely endearing tale of a misfit cast of characters. Also, who doesn’t love a disaster bisexual protagonist?


Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

2. We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

You’d think that once you introduce the aliens, the book can’t get any weirder. Wrong. This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read, the aliens more a vehicle through which to explore complex family bonds, relationship abuse, struggles with sexuality, and the general existential bullshit of the universe. It’s rare that a book about someone who really isn’t all that interesting in living will make you want to live, but we did say this book was weird—that’s weird as a synonym for uniquely moving.


From the author of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes a brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.


3. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

'The Last 8' by Laura Pohl

When was the last time you read a novel with an aromantic, bisexual protagonist? Given that WordPress is telling me to correct the spelling of ‘aromantic’ (probably to aromatic or, more ironically, a romantic), I’m gonna guess NEVER. This #OwnVoices novel is a wild ride of plot twists and nonstop danger, and, as a bonus, it includes a responsible and nuanced handling of mental health issues. It’s a unique tale of friendship and sacrifice… one not weighed down by a forced romance that seems to mistakenly believe it’s more important than the world getting saved.


A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave 

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.


4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

'The Knife of Never Letting Go' by Patrick Ness


Let’s dive into this powerful classic YA with one of its most iconic quotes: “we are the choices we make.” Maybe you should make the choice to head down to your local bookstore and grab this for yourself. Winner of the Guardian Award, the novel has left a lasting impact: pop-culture superstars Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland set to star in a film adaptation scheduled to hit theaters in March 2020. With its raw, unfiltered voice, it’s sure to stay on your mind for a long time to come… and on your bookshelf for even longer.


Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.


5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer


book cover


You may never have wanted to read a novel about a cyborg Cinderella living in a futuristic city while getting into sci-fi shenanigans all vaguely reminiscent of childhood staple Sailor Moon… but that’s probably only because you didn’t know that novel was available. This breakout hit launched Meyer’s career, and she’s since published eleven others books that are just as unique as they are uniquely compelling. You’d think novels based loosely on fairy tales would have to be at least somewhat derivative; that’s only because you haven’t read this one.


A forbidden romance.

A deadly plague.

Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.





All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via SteemIt.

A Book Goes Out of This World…Literally!

This Friday, April 26th, a children’s book is going on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure by being shot into space aboard a space rocket. Once in space, the book will be read aloud by an astronaut for kids and classrooms back here on earth!


Willow the Water Bear

Image Via Amazon


The book is Willow the Water Bear and it’s written by Durham, North Carolina resident Houston Kidd, a name that even he’s aware sounds slightly fictional. Even his website clarifies that yes, it is his real name. And he certainly lives up to it: “unsure of what career path to follow and not wanting to be a financial burden on his parents,” the author’s own website states, “he enlisted into the United States Navy.” Yup, that’s a Marine’s name.


Houston Kidd

Image Via Willow the Water Bear


After serving his tour, Kidd attempted multiple ventures, his jobs ranging from selling real estate to working as stunt double for National Geographic and AMC Network Productions. He currently works for a Fortune 500 technology company, but ever since 2014, he’s been fascinated with water bears. “A water bear is a microscopic creature that can survive extreme stressors such as radiation. They can live in the Antarctic. They can even survive in outer space…” he told CBS17.

You can look it up yourself, but here’s the thing: these microbes aren’t easy on the eyes. How do you get kids interested in something that literally has no eyes?

This is what Houston Kidd said:

Children already love superheroes, and this is essentially a superhero, but [the water bear is] real.

Thus, it all came together.

Willow the Water Bear is the book’s main character. A lover of superheroes who wears a purple mask and cape, Willow is more colorful than her real-life counterpart. While she is more colorful than her real-life inspiration, she learns has superpowers such as the power to fly and the ability to travel and live in different climates, characteristics which the real creature actually possesses!


Houston Kidd reading

Image Via WUNC


To bring this story to life, Kidd worked with his childhood best friend, Eric L. Bates, who illustrated the book, and Thomas C. Boothby, a UNC biologist, to ensure accuracy. So far, it’s Kidd’s only book, but it truly captures the imagination.

“The science he has in his book is quite accurate and that’s really important to us,” Patricia Tribe, Director at the Global Space Education Foundation, told CBS17 . Global Space Education Foundation, for those unaware, has a  nonprofit branch called The Story Time from Space program that routinely sends children’s books into space so astronauts may read them to children.


"Willow the Water Bear" opened up

Image Via WUNC


This Friday, Kidd’s book will take off… because when the Space X Falcon 9 rocket launches in an effort to bring supplies from Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, Kidd’s book will be on board.

When told his book was picked, Kidd was shocked. “I had to take a moment, pull the phone away from my head, take a deep breath and attempt to let it sink in,” Kidd told US News.

It’s uncertain who will read this book, but a video available to the public of this intergalactic story-time is expected to be available this summer. Personally, I just can’t wait!


Featured Image Via WTVD

Harry Potter and Dumbledore in the Astronomy Tower

The Possibilities of Wizarding Space Exploration

Muggles may very well have beaten wizards to the Moon, and beyond. Space is one of the only acknowledged limitations of magic in the Harry Potter books. The Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic has an entire room devoted to space.


The Space Chamber hosts floating replicas of the planets and minor planets in our solar system. To what end is, of course, a mystery. Their efforts don’t appear to be a space program, as none of the books reference any sort of wizarding expedition beyond planet Earth, aside from a Quibbler article of dubious authenticity.


Via Giphy

Via Giphy


J.K. Rowling herself has stated that the distance one can apparate is based upon the wizard’s individual skill and the distance of the jump. The longer the apparation and the more inexperienced the wizard, the likelier that death or grievous bodily harm will result. Enchanted broomsticks have similar range issues. A transatlantic flight was seen as a momentous accomplishment back in the 1930s. The geniuses over at Stack Exchange examined the situation in detail and came to the conclusion that neither apparation nor broom-flight could safely convey a wizard to the Moon.


Even for wizards there are less conventional methods of transportation, as the responses to this Reddit post explore. A port key launched on a probe bound for a celestial body is one such solution. Another feasible application of magical aerodynamics is a combination of levitation spells and vanishing cabinets. An earnest redditor brings up fireplace based teleportation through floo powder, but the primary dilemma facing that approach is the lack of fireplaces outside Earth. Or atmospheres for combustion.


You’re not a rocket scientist, Harry.



Story Time from Space

You Can Now Let an Astronaut Read to Your Children!

Earlier today I found out about Story Time from Space, a project coming from nonprofit Global Space Education Foundation, which features astronauts reading children’s books from the International Space Station, which is definitely something I would’ve been waaaay too into as a kid.


Patricia Tribe, former director of education at Space Center Houston, told HuffPost 


What better role models to engage kids in science and to engage them in reading? You’re not only looking and listening to the books, you’re looking around the International Space Station.


Via Tumblr

Via Tumblr 


Story Time from Space started with astronaut Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. reading Max Goes to the Moon by Jeffrey Bennett. He read the tale on the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery. Since the project’s launch, other stories have been told from space, including Next Time You See a Sunset by Emily Morgan and Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty. The footage is available on the Story Time from Space site and YouTube.


The team behind Story Time from Space includes astronauts, scientists, and educators of all types, and the team follows strict guidelines when it comes to choosing the books they’ll read. Beyond being “neat”, they must be readable in about 15 minutes, relate to the STEM field, and be scientifically accurate.


“We don’t want to perpetuate any misinformation,” Tribe said. 


I’m so excited to see this project continue, because my two favorite loves are books and space. 


Featured Image Via HuffPost.