September 1, 2011
Ahoy there, Matey! Lately it seems that everywhere you turn, there’s a pirate. There are pirate-themed children’s books: Do Pirates Take Baths? and Pirates Don’t Change Diapers (honey, they don’t even change socks). There’s “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” on September 19, founded by Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket. Your car can sport a pirate bumper sticker (“Grog is my Co-pilot”) and your dog can wear a pirate outfit. So it was only a matter of time before NASA began sending pirates to the International Space Station.
Actually, the idea was the brainchild of Sean Collins, the graphics technical lead at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. We profiled Collins in July, for his work with the astronaut unofficial crew posters. NASA crews customarily take a series of photographs near the end of their pre-mission training, all shot on the same day, and the last 15 minutes of the photo shoot are set aside for what has come to be known as a “fun photo,” usually a parody of a popular movie. When we last spoke to Collins, he already had the idea for Expedition 30′s unofficial crew poster: He wanted to use the 2011 film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and title the parody “Pilots Over the Caribbean.” (Click here for a high-res version.)
While Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has an “X” tattooed on his cheek, Expedition 30 commander Dan Burbank has a small International Space Station tattoo. And the bone dangling from Sparrow’s head scarf has been replaced with a Soyuz rocket. The roman numerals for 30 have been inserted throughout the poster: across Burbank’s eyes, wrapped around his dreadlock, tattooed across European astronaut André Kuipers’ chest and arm, and pinned to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko’s hat.
From left to right: Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anatoly Ivanishin, astronaut Dan Burbank, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, ESA astronaut André Kuipers, and astronaut Don Pettit.