Life in space, with astronaut Leland Melvin and Great Big Story

28 Jan 2016

Astronaut Leland Melvin participating in training at NASA's Johnson Space Centre. Image via NASA/James Blair

To be an astronaut is something countless children and adults dream about. There’s something mysterious and awe-inspiring about the thought of floating in space, looking down at the Earth and out at the stars.

Astronauts’ recent widespread popularity – starting with Commander Chris Hadfield and his singing, and later inspired by a host of other out-of-this-world social media stars – has brought these heroes of space travel far closer to the ordinary person than ever before.

With the advent of the internet, and of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, we’ve gotten an unprecedented look at the lives of the women and men who devote their lives (in part, at least) to ‘floating in a tin can’.

CNN offshoot Great Big Story has gone even further in demystifying life in space – though making it no less wondrous – through a series of short videos created with astronaut and former NFL wide receiver Leland Melvin.

Melvin has worked at NASA since the late ’80s, after injuries forced him to retire from the NFL. He worked as an engineer on several major projects before being selected as an astronaut in 1998.

Melvin crewed two space flights – one in 2008 and one in 2009, both to the International Space Station (ISS) – and has logged more than 565 hours in space.

Melvin, then, is the perfect choice for this Great Big Story project, which delves into what it’s really like to live in space, from what (and how) you eat, to how your body changes, to how you yourself are changed, irrevocably.

On food:

On bodily changes:

On holidays:

On the playbook:

On perspective:

As a special bonus, click here to watch a gorgeous video of Melvin talking about his visions of space and dreams of space.

Gigglebit is’s daily dose of the funny and fantastic in science and tech, to help start your day on a lighter note.

Kirsty Tobin was careers editor at Silicon Republic