When quarterback Joshua Dobbs talks about space, the rocket scientist truly knows what he is talking about.
That is why Dobbs, who graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in aerospace engineering, was the perfect host for the NASA and Steelers Character Playbook Conversation focused on 'Space is for Everyone.'
Dobbs guided a conversation with the four astronauts of Expedition 64 SpaceX Crew-1, who recently spent six months on the International Space Station, discussing their experience as well as the STEM programs geared toward youth to begin them on the path to becoming astronauts.
"It's really exciting because they're at the forefront of it. They just spent six months in space," said Dobbs of being a part of the conversation. "They were the first crew to be launched, and then they were able to receive the second crew as well during their time at the space station. They're at the forefront of it. They're around the industry. They live down in Space Coast so it's cool to get the inside scoop on what's it like just to be an astronaut.
"And now that civilians can actually participate in space travel, to see what the next evolution of the industry is now."
The astronauts stressed first and foremost the importance of teamwork in what they do, something that Dobbs easily related to. Dobbs originally spoke with the crew in January while they were in space, and this was an opportunity to follow up with the astronauts, that included Commander Victor Glover, Colonel Michael Hopkins, Astronaut Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi, a Japanese aeronautical engineer and JAXA astronaut.
"I kept tabs on it," said Dobbs. "Commander Glover was able to have his first ever spacewalk, and it was cool talking to him leading up to that, asking him about what nerves were going into that. They did a great job using their social media platforms to keep everyone engaged and what they were doing, how it was going. It was really cool to talk to them, create that relationship with them and to be able to follow their story and now follow up with them after."
After fielding questions from Dobbs, the astronauts turned the table and asked Dobbs questions, who shared that he started playing football at age 5, and his interest in rocket science came not long after when he made his first trip to the Kennedy Space Center at age 7. He even compared the art of beating a defense to engineering problems.
The session wrapped with Dobbs asking the astronauts questions submitted by students on the zoom call, with helped to inspire them to pursue a career in aerospace engineering and beyond.
"This is all huge for the next generation," said Dobbs. "Just thinking about the history of space travel, it's something that has really taken off. You can only imagine the children now, how much of an impact they're going to have and how far we can go.
"It doesn't matter what background you come from, me being an NFL football player, they have their backgrounds in STEM, military, and even football. Whatever your background is, what country you live in, where you're from, you can have an impact on the industry and it just shows it and gives the interest to the kids that they're able to see how tangible it is, they will achieve those goals."