The Everyday Astronaut Isn't Fucking Around Anymore

It started as a joke, then it took over this photographer's life.

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Sep 30 2016, 11:00am

Image: The Everyday Astronaut/Instagram

All photos courtesy of Tim Dodd/The Everyday Astronaut

Few careers are as universally admired as the astronaut. It makes sense: when most of us are hopelessly Earth-bound for the foreseeable future, it's easy to envy someone whose job description includes awkward zero-G acrobatics. But despite the pedestal we've created for these glamorous space pioneers, we often forget that astronauts are regular people who have to get up each day and put their spacesuits on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.

It's these commonplace moments that Tim Dodd, a 31-year old photographer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, hopes to capture through his whimsical Instagram account exploring the day-to-day life of an astronaut stuck on Earth.

"I began to lose my mind doing this Everyday Astronaut project. I started losing sleep and it took over my life."

Dodd's career as the Everyday Astronaut began with a poor financial decision. In 2013, Dodd bought a real Russian pressurized flight suit and helmet from an online space memorabilia auction on a whim. While such artifacts can often cost bidders thousands of dollars, Dodd secured the costume for his alter-ego for a mere $330—a small price to pay for the sake of a joke.

After making a couple of image macros to score a few laughs from his friends, Dodd's suit went unused for months. But when he made a trip to Kennedy Space Center in the spring of 2014, he brought the suit along hoping to get a few shots with the giant NASA meatball logo on site. Other visitors at Kennedy saw Dodd in his suit and lined up to take photos with him, mistaking him for a feature of the visitor's center.

"It was so hot that day," Dodd recalled. "After about 20 minutes I started losing vision and knew I was about to pass out. So I took the suit out and there was literally sweat up to my heels in my suit because the booties are sealed off."

Although Dodd has never been able to track down photos of this ill-fated original shoot (despite enlisting Reddit's account on several occasions), the encounter made him realize the potential in the suit and shortly thereafter he took things into his own hands.

"I began to lose my mind doing this Everyday Astronaut project," he said. "I started losing sleep and it took over my life."

Dodd posted his first photo series as the Everyday Astronaut on Reddit in 2014 and quickly garnered international attention from media outlets like The Guardian, as well as from space industry insiders like Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space.

Despite his brief moment in the spotlight, Dodd said it took a while before people really latched on to the idea of the Everyday Astronaut.

"Bill Ingalls [NASA's senior photographer] was retweeting all my stuff and I was getting nowhere," said Dodd. "You have to slap people across the face a thousand times before they take notice of something like this, and even then they don't give a shit. But I still kept going."

His perseverance has paid off—although not in a monetary way. Although Dodd has personally sunk thousands of dollars into this passion project, he has yet to make any money off of it. Still, the Everyday Astronaut remains an integral part of his life—he even brought it along when he proposed to his wife at Machu Picchu earlier this year.

"I did not pop the question in the suit," said Dodd. "That picture was posed about five minutes after I proposed. [My wife] totally supports my project, but would've killed me if I'd done that."

Now three photo series into his 'career' as the Everyday Astronaut, Dodd has garnered some 45,000 followers on Instagram and traveled the world with his spacesuit. He's received invites from NASA's Orion team (which is working on getting humans to Mars) to come do photo shoots in their mockup, and at this year's International Astronautical Congress the heads of the SpaceX communication team and Bill Nye stopped to chat him up and compliment him on his work.

Although he has yet to monetize the Everyday Astronaut, Dodd plans to quit his job as a professional event photographer next year to pursue his Everyday Astronaut project full time. He is working on developing a children's book around the concept and plans to tour the United States promoting the book while doing space advocacy. He has acquired a sponsorship from MyPod, a small trailer company, and plans to turn his trailer into a mock space shuttle which will accompany him on his first long duration mission.

Almost all of Dodd's photos include hidden easter eggs. For example, in the above photo, the portrait on the wall features Don Pettit, an astronaut famous for his laundry habits.

What would the Everyday Astronaut drink? Blue Moon, of course.

For more Everyday Astronaut, follow Dodd on Instagram.

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