With Spacecraft Engineers Working From Home, Cats Reach For The Stars

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on May 1, 2020

Cats are quietly taking over the world, but their quest for domination doesn’t end there. With a whole universe to explore, cats have sighted space as their next mission. And with paws so crafty and humans, including spacecraft engineers, working from home, could cats padding across keyboards take control of spacecraft?

Amber Straughn, a NASA astrophysicist, jokingly tweeted, “Actually discussed in a virtual meeting today: how to keep cats from accidentally commanding spacecraft while this work is going on in people’s homes on laptops instead of inside a cat-free NASA building.”

Straughn was only being funny, but feline enthusiasts can’t help day-dreaming about the possibility of cats taking charge of spacecraft.

But Don’t Worry, Its Not Gonna Happen

While its fun to imagine cats assuming control of spacecraft, Andrew Good, a media relations specialist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, assures it can’t happen, no matter where an engineer might be working from. In an interview with The Atlantic, Good explained, “A person has to make conscious choices for spacecraft commands to go up.”

This means entering lines and lines of written code as well-performing actions requiring a computer mouse “clicking on certain options, so it’s not just an issue of commands being written and sent up with typos.”


Princess Cheeto/Tumblr

Plopping down on the keyboard or walking back and forth over it won’t give a cat captaining ability. No matter how hard a feline tries to gain control, those busy toe beans just can’t make it happen.

Cats Still Find a Way to Contribute to Space Operations Though

Cats can’t control a rocket ship, but they can wreak havoc on the code being written by spacecraft engineers working at home. The antics of cats ‘helping’ their parents can also disrupt the day-to-day operations of keeping space vehicles operational. Thankfully, sending actual instruction to crafts cruising through space must be done from mission control centers.


@ichigobie_9460635/Instagram

Daniel Lakey, a spacecraft-operations engineer for the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter agrees with this rule. He too has experienced the unruliness of working from home with cats.

“I would not let them in the control room, that’s for sure,” Lakey said of his cats, Sparkle and Buttons.

During a virtual meeting, Lakey’s tabby cat, Sparkle, decided he had input to share with the team. “He appeared at the door, jumped on the table, meowed in my face, walked across the keyboard, put his furry ass in my face, and eventually curled up sweetly on the desk next to the laptop.”


@dr_becca_the_vet/Instagram

Buttons isn’t much better. “When I’m trying to prepare commands, I get nonsense written on there and I have to delete it and start again.”

No matter how much Lakey persuades them otherwise, Buttons and Sparkle insist on being part of the work. The Solar Orbiter’s mission to study the sun must fascinate the curious cats. Maybe they just want to play with the sun because it looks like a big ball!


Space Cats/Facebook

And whether or not cats are trying to rule the whole universe, they most certainly hope to rule your desk.

H/T: www.theatlantic.com
Feature Image: @ichigobie_9460635/Instagram & @dr_becca_the_vet/Instagram

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