A new YouTube original follows a group of kids who go on a scavenger hunt with clues delivered from the International Space Station, with vice-president Kamala Harris assisting.
“My mom was a scientist, so I just love the idea of exploring the unknown,” Harris says in the short trailer to a diverse group of kids, who also get advice from NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough from orbit.
“Get Curious with Vice President Harris” launches Thursday (Oct. 7) on NASA’s YouTube channel and the YouTube Kids app, and you can watch the nine-minute short here on NASA. The show is produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment and was released in concert with World Space Week, an annual seven-day celebration after the Oct. 4 anniversary of the Sputnik satellite launch that kicked off the space age in 1957.
Without getting too deep into spoilers, you’ll see Harris and the kids have an outdoor meeting at the White House and tour the United States Naval Observatory. Kimbrough, floating in the ISS, gives a cute clue to the vice president’s identity before the kids meet her: “She actually lives at the Naval Observatory,” he explains, mentioning, too, that she’s leader of the National Space Council.
The next scene, showing the masked kids marching in a cluster down a hallway, has one saying to the others: “I wonder who the head of the Space Council is,” moments before the big reveal.
“We are over the moon to be working with Vice President Harris on this exciting special that encourages kids to ask questions and explore space,” Nadine Zylstra, head of family, learning and impact for YouTube Originals, said in a statement about the new show. “This special delivers quality, educational programming to our young viewers around the globe — and it’s pretty cool to have the vice president of the United States and astronaut Shane Kimbrough help us do it.”
U.S. President Joe Biden’s first budget proposal for NASA, released in April, asked for $24.7 billion in fiscal year 2022, which began Oct. 1 — a $1.5 billion increase over 2021. The budget prioritizes the Artemis human spaceflight program (a moon-landing venture accelerated to 2024 by the previous administration, led by Donald Trump), as well as climate science and Mars exploration.
The Artemis program has met numerous logistical challenges since Biden took office, although the issues stem from programs initiated before he took the helm in January. New NASA administrator Bill Nelson, however, has said the agency is confident it can meet the 2024 commitment.
Specifically, NASA’s lunar spacesuits have been delayed, so much so that the agency’s Office of Inspector General warned a 2024 landing is “not feasible.” There is also an ongoing lawsuit related to the procurement of the Artemis human landing system, delaying work on that.
But whether or not Artemis meets its goal, Harris encouraged her guests to get curious about space. “You’re going to literally see the craters on the moon with your own eyes,” she told the kids before they looked through the Naval Observatory telescope. “It is going to be unbelievable.”
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.