Aliens and cheeseburgers: Astronaut answers questions from 5-year-olds about life in space

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Astronaut Kjell Lindgren
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren answers questions from 5-year-olds as he stands inside a mockup of the International Space Station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. (Credit: Wired / NASA)
How do you know when to get up in space? And what do you eat? Kindergartners got answers to these and other burning questions about life on the International Space Station from NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren in a video done up by Wired.
Lindgren came back to Earth from the space station in December after spending 141 days in orbit. That may sound like a short stint, compared to the 340-day stint that his former crewmate Scott Kelly just finished, but it’s plenty long enough to get into a zero-G routine.
The questions that the 5-year-olds asked are the sorts of things that 25-year-olds would be interested to hear as well: For example, one of Lindgren’s favorite space foods was a “faux-cheeseburger” he made from a pieced-together recipe: rehydrated beef patties and cheddar cheese spread, rolled up in a tortilla with squirts of ketchup and mustard on top.

Lindgren was also one of the first humans to taste space-grown red lettuce.

As for the wake-up time in space, Lindgren explained that the space station operated on Greenwich Mean Time. “We have a schedule that tells us at 6 o’clock in the morning, it’s time to get up, and when it’s time to go to sleep,”

A couple of kids wanted to know about the space station’s X-files. “Have you seen an alien? Because I really want to see a picture of one,” a boy asked.

“I have not seen an alien in space,” Lindgren said. “But what I have seen was the aurora. On the Earth, you just kinda see it over the horizon, but in space, that green light was swirling like an active fog. It’s absolutely beautiful, and one of my favorite sights during my mission.”

To find out more about life in space, check out the video on YouTube and Wired’s online video channel, The Scene. And tune in Scott Kelly’s post-landing news briefing on NASA TV at 11 a.m. PT.

Two things have given me goose bumps up here- an incredible #aurora flyover and watching the new Star Wars trailer!

— Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell) October 22, 2015

GeekWire contributing editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of, he is the author of “The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference.” Follow him via, on Twitter @b0yle, and on Facebook and MeWe. Reach him via email at
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