Expedition 49 Flight Engineer and cancer biologist Kate Rubins, who is currently living and working on the International Space Station, recently revealed COURAGE, an awesome, hand-painted spacesuit decorated by pediatric cancer patients recovering at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. The special suit was produced by The Space Suit Art Project, a collaboration between NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the hospital to raise awareness about childhood cancer and the benefits of combining art with medicine.
Kate, along with retired astronaut Nicole Stott, and other NASA personnel lent their artistic talents to this project and worked as mentors to the patients over the past year. Last Friday, patients who participated in the project had the opportunity to see the space suit in action and speak with Kate during a live “Earth-to-space” call.
“This project has meant a lot to me and really inspired me,” said Rubins during the live conversation. “It was an amazing opportunity to get a chance to paint with you guys. I remember this suit when it was just a blank canvas and now this beautiful art is orbiting our beautiful planet.”
Kate’s COURAGE suit is one of three spacesuits to come out of the project. The first suit, HOPE was put together using hundreds of art pieces made by patients, families and staff at MD Anderson. “It represents the hope patients and families have as they go through treatment,” MD Anderson explains in a press release. “Their primary hope is to survive cancer, but it’s deeper than survival. The project inspires hope for progress in childhood cancer research, which is consistently underfunded, and hope that childhood diseases like cancer can one day be eliminated.”
The third suit, UNITY is currently being created at cancer hospitals in Germany, Russia, and Japan with collaboration from astronauts from NASA’s international partners, ESA (European Space Agency), the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
COURAGE is scheduled to go on display at Space Center Houston, the visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in January 2017. For updates, you can follow the Space Suit Project on Twitter.
Check out this short excerpt from the Earth-to-space call with children from MD Anderson. You can also view the entire conversation here.