Rubins trains for a spacewalk at the Johnson
Space Centers Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.
While on board the ISS, Rubins wore a
special spacesuit hand-painted by patients
recovering at Houston’s MD Anderson
Cancer Center to raise awareness about the
benefits of pairing art with medicine.
molecular behavior. Most of the time
you’d like to do an experiment in a nice,
calm laboratory, but there are times
where you have to take the research other
places. Disease outbreaks, micro-gravity
research, these are remote environments.
They’re logistically challenging, but that’s
where we answer some very interesting
and important questions.
Those answers can apply to diseases
we have on the planet, as well as future
exploration—how we’ll continue supporting
humans in space, how do you go further
and further with long-duration missions—
Mars missions, for instance. Even
common conditions like osteoporosis,
there’s a pretty similar condition for
those in orbit. Same with neurological
changes, effects on the cardiovascular
and immune system—the questions that
we want to solve about human beings
living in space for a long time, pretty
much every single one of them is directly
related to a physiological problem or a
system we’re interested in studying on
the ground. So you’re not really choosing
“Do I help out human health and disease?”
or “Do I think about exploration?” Truth
is, we’re answering both questions.
Finally, I have to ask about
perspective—do you have a new
worldview now that you’ve seen our
planet in such a different way?
Because you orbit so quickly and see
whole continents, it certainly has
changed my sense of geography. You get
very familiar saying “Oh, hey! We’re
coming up on the Placencia Peninsula
right now; it’s so beautiful off the coast of
Belize. Then we’ll go over to Europe and
come around the top and down to India.”
To see the whole planet—the scale of what
your home is becomes really expanded.
Honestly, it feels like the entire globe is