It’s true: We went to the moon. It wasn’t a hoax.

After grabbing the attention of all 100 PR professionals at PRSA Houston’s lunch meeting Wednesday, Michael A. Kincaid, a NASA director of external relations, continued to engage his audience, sprinkling space-trivia questions into his description of NASA’s communication efforts.

  1. Out of 135 space-shuttle missions, 35 flew parts to assemble what?
  2. Name one requirement for becoming an astronaut.
  3. Who landed from space yesterday (March 1) after 340 days?
  4. Why do we need a space station to explore the universe?

(Answers below.)

NASA’s mission is threefold: 

Reach new heights. Reveal the unknown. Benefit all mankind.

It’s no surprise that he compared his team’s job to Lucy and Ethel working the chocolate-factory assembly line.

Kincaid got laughs for other comments as well, including, “We don’t have a bottom line like most businesses. We spend your tax money, and we always want more of it.”

Kincaid said the movie “’The Martian’ was a great opportunity to help tell our story.” Perhaps that’s why this year’s eight-week astronaut-application window pulled in a record 18,300-plus applicants.

“On a personal note, I’d like to say that Matt Damon deserved the best-actor award,” he said. 



“One of our astronauts said 90 percent of the movie/book is exactly right. Five percent is silly. And 5 percent is ‘Dang—that’s a great idea.’”

Kincaid and crew took full advantage of the movie’s popularity and, among other missions, created a website called The Real Martians.

In fact, was it “The Martian” or NASA’s external communication that spurred One Direction, the English-Irish pop boy band to create a video that has been viewed, so far, by 373 million people?


  1. The International Space Station. 
  2. To apply, you need a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math; three-plus years of related professional experience; and the ability to pass a NASA astronaut physical. 
  3. Scott Kelly (whose twin brother Mark, also an astronaut, served as part of the Earth-bound control group). 
  4. So we know what we’re up against.