Yes, NASA astronaut Alan Bean was the fourth human in Earth’s history to walk on the moon, but did you know that he could also pull off a flawless somersault in Zero-G wearing only a pair of tiny white shorts?
Decades before the International Space Station was assembled in orbit—segment by segment—and made a home for generations of astronauts (as well as the first flower ever grown in space), there was Skylab. Skylab, unlike the ISS, was unilaterally built and launched by the U.S. in the 1970s, and offered plenty of room for astronauts to stretch out, play darts, or, as was the wont of Alan Bean, pull off a flurry of gymnastics routines.
Often referred to as “the first artist on another world,” Bean was a Renaissance Man who pushed himself as a painter, astronaut, and, of course, a gymnast. In the video above, we see him execute a world-class routine in the “Saturn Workshop” area of Skylab, transforming himself into a thrilling display of the laws of physics. Below, he dazzles us with a series of somersaults and full-twist layouts that show off the law of conservation of momentum:
And, if you want to have a little extra fun—because there’s no sound to go with the video—you can turn the whole display into 2001: A Space Gymnastic Odyssey by playing “The Blue Danube Waltz” by Johann Strauss II, below. (Start it about 25 seconds in, then play the video for the full effect.)
You can also check out a full diagram of Skylab, the OG space station, below:
What do you think about astronaut Alan Bean and his Zero-G gymnastics? Was space so much cooler in the ’70s, or do you prefer the flower-growing power of the ISS? Let us know in the comments section below!
Feature Image: Discovery Channel
Skylab Image: NASA