President Barack Obama treated astronauts on the International Space Station to a little levity of his own as they traveled at 17,500 mph, circling the planet once every 90 minutes. “Do you guys still drink Tang up there?” the president asked to laughter.
It took some effort, but the 10 astronauts in blue shirts, including some from Japan and Russia, bobbed but managed not to float off during the presidential session by holding onto a rail with their toes.
The astronauts appeared on a screen in the White House Roosevelt Room, and Obama initially did not realize he had to use a telephone to speak to them. “The handset sir,” a staffer instructed.
Obama and the astronauts talked about the mission on the space station, where the crew is adding solar panels, but the most fun came from the other questions. Obama asked the one female astronaut whether she had been tempted to cut her hair shorter.
“I think it’s a real fashion statement,” he said as her long dark brown hair floated around her head as if it were alive.