Weekend Warm-Up: Yo-Yo Tricks in Space and Other Highlights From Astronaut Don Pettit

Leave it to an astronaut to start playing with a yo-yo and end up talking physics.

“It’s good to understand the physics of your recreational activities,” NASA’s Don Pettit explains, demonstrating a yo-yo on board the International Space Station.

Stay tuned to learn why, as listed by Pettit in several “benefits.” Don’t expect the astronaut to get too far out into orbit. His first benefit? “Delightful conversations” you can entertain on the topic.

For all his aloof charm, Pettit’s no dummy. Microgravity yo-yo tricks are only one source of high-acuity amusement for the astronaut previously tasked with assembling technology to return to the moon and explore Mars. A chemical engineer by trade, Pettit has spent over a year living in space, and invented the “microgravity coffee cup.” He’s been an astronaut since 1996.

His technical writing is also extremely colorful.

If you’re looking for Don Pettit content that hits a little closer to home? Check out his thoughts on maintaining a sense of humor in a “frontier” environment. If you want to hear how to keep cool under pressure from a guy who got stuck on board the ISS when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry over Texas (killing all seven astronauts on board) — listen up.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.