NFTs are taking over space. Coming to you from NFT NYC Week are your hosts Eathan Janney and Jeff Kelley together with special guest Mike Mongo. Mike is an astronaut teacher and author of The Astronaut Instruction Manual. He has been creating NFTs since 2017 and even co-founded CryptoTitties, the 19th oldest NFT and the 1st NFT charity in the world. He has been around the NFT Space since its early days and is along for the ride as it takes its first steps into the future—space! Tune in as Mike shares some exciting projects and developments and find out ways you can join in the party.
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Edge Of NYC, June 2022: Mike Mongo (Astronaut Teacher) Is Going To Space With Uplift Aerospace!
Welcome to this special episode. We’re coming to you from NFT NYC week. We’re going to bring you a series of amazing interviews. It’s going to seem like you’re jumping from a cool conversation to another cool conversation with us. Keep reading, and we hope you enjoy it.
We’re here with Mike Mongo. This is going to be an impactful interview. I’m very excited. I’m going to let this fellow introduce himself, and then we’re going to jump into some of the things that he’s up to.
I’m Mike Mongo. You are the Beastie Boys, like Eathan and Josh.
You’re one of the Beastie Boys. You’ve been hanging with them since you were a little kid.
My buddy Mix Master Mike was here for NFT NYC. This is so crazy. Everything is so nuts here. It was the Method Man show at Sotheby’s. They had a big NFT event there. I’m hanging out, and then out comes Mix Master Mike. We grew up together as homeboys. We haven’t seen each other in person in many years. I’m like, “Mike?” He’s like, “Mongo?” He was like, “What are you doing here?” I’m like, “I got selected to Sotheby. I’m on the first commercial crew for Uplift Aerospace. I’m going to space training as an astronaut.” I was there when he got called by the Beastie Boys in the ’90s and said, “Do you want to be part of the group?” All points are converging in time and space with NFTs. Web3 is humanifesting that.Uplift Aerospace has a Web3 component. It is Space+ NFT. Click To Tweet
Let’s jump right into it. Why don’t you give people a little context on who you are aside from our revelations about the Beastie Boys? If you introduce yourself, what should people know as a little bit of a bed about you to lay the foundation?
I’m Mike Mongo, astronaut teacher, author of The Astronaut Instruction Manual, and NFT creator. I’ve been creating NFTs from 2017 to 2018. The project I cofounded, CryptoTitties, is the 29th on the blockchain, and it’s the first for social good. Twenty-five percent of all profits went to the caring initiative. I go to care initiatives for people with breast cancer. Back then, they were called crypto collectibles. When we started creating NFTs, we had no idea we would be here where we were standing in these galleries and seeing these pieces and being with you, and here we are in the future. It is amazing.
I cofounded OBEY with Shepard Fairey. I did OBEY for fifteen years, and it allowed me to go into whatever I wanted to do for life. I chose astronautics. I live in Cape Canaveral. I’m in Los Angeles part-time. I worked very closely with Kyle Schember and Ryan Stuit at Subtractive. I’m deeply embedded in the Los Angeles NFT community. That’s one of the pinnacles of NFT creation in the world now. I got to go to NFTE LA this 2021. I’m selective about where I spend my time. I got to go to NFT LA this 2022 and have the experience that I had.
The parallel is NFT NYC. If anyone creates NFTs, those are the two places we have to be because we see one another, connect, and find out that, “This person is awesome IRL.” That matters. We see that this is a movement. It’s funny because people are so antagonized by NFTs, and the rest of us are like, “This is the way.” With NFTs, it reminds me of when graffiti art started. People either loved it and made it or hated it and despised it. Here we are, and people were like, “Graffiti art, Banksy.” Everything’s so cool now. Nobody’s going to jail for doing art at this juncture.
NFTs have the same impact when people talk about, “NFTs are destroying everything. They are are the scourge on the ecosystem,” as if the banking and military-industrial complex for the last 2,000 years hasn’t been investing in the demise of civilization. Here we are proposing something that allows for abundance for all of us. People are like, “Scarcity hasn’t been good enough for my parents and me.” I’m like, “I’m not here to argue whether NFTs are great or not. I’m just making NFTs because NFTs are great.”
We were talking a little bit before about some of those impactful moments that you had at NFTLA in this 2021 event, but we’re here at NFT NYC again, which is one of these monumental events. Tell us about your experience so far here. Have you had any of those moments?
How can you not? You have a month beforehand when people are deciding whether they go to NFT NYC. I was adamant publicly on my social. You get to go. I’m not a have to, must to, need to, or going to get to person. One of my friends, Nate FT, got on a bus to get here. I made sure that they were here. We didn’t have the means, the resources, and all the things. That is the way. Let it work itself out because if you’re a legit creator and have legit connections on social and the audio rooms, those are legit connections in real life as long as we show up as creators.
I got to be on stage with Jodee Rich and Ian Utile, who are the cofounders of NFT NYC. We announced to the world that the Uplift Aerospace’s first commercial crew had been announced, of which I am one. I’m now training to go to space. We’re working on the contract with Blue Origin. The first astronaut, Ruben Salinas, has already contracted. I will go to Scotland from here. I will fly out to Scotland to stage Mike Mongo’s astronaut job camp at the SaxaVord Spaceport. When I get back is when the whole crew reunites and begins our training. We can’t announce the launch date with the NDA. Like Blue Origin says, no launch dates until 30 days before the launch.NFT is a medium. Click To Tweet
We were talking before this. We’ve had the chance to be in touch with some astronauts because some people are doing NFT projects around that. You did the But Next previously. That’s cool. We’ve talked about that with Kyle Schember previously. We have guests that come on. We ask them questions like, “What would you do if you could do anything physical that you could purchase? Was it physical, digital, or an experience?” Many people are like, “I want to go to space.” We need to keep talking because it’s our job to facilitate at least one trip. It’s like a group thing. Maybe we all take our guests out on a base flight or something.
This is doable. I didn’t elaborate on how I became a finalist. Uplift Aerospace has a Web3 component. It is Space+ NFT. By buying the launch pass, I’ve got to be an applicant. All the applicants were then voted on by the community. Every single applicant, the five finalists, are all space professionals. Ruben Salinas is a Medical Technologist, Joan Misner is a Rocket Scientist and Sydney Hamilton is a Rocket Engineer. Trent Tresch is a Human Space Flight Training Director at U of A, and then I’m an astronaut teaching at Cape Canaveral.
The NFT community chose us out of all the applicants with the Space+ NFT. That Space+ NFT, the holders have another opportunity for upcoming flights to go through the processes. Space+ is now creating training experiences for holders of an NFT to become the best version of themselves. That may enable them to be in the next commercial crew, and they select another crew.
Can you imagine many years ago saying that would be the case? It would have been hard to envision that. Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about what other projects you have going on. Is there anything new on the forefront here that we should look forward to in the coming months besides your trip to space?
Now, my book, The Astronaut Instruction Manual, is being turned into a television series by Alcon, who does The Expanse. It’s going to be about the first kids in space. It’s a character-driven series. Leland Melvin, who is the ISS astronaut, is the only astronaut to play NFL professionally and go to space. Leland is a producer on the series. I’m honored about that. That’s one thing. As an NFT project, I’ve got a new project coming out with Jessica Trofsky, the fine artist, and Astor Yang, the doll artist. Those are two titans, and it’s called BAEvolution. We did a free mint for the Basic BAEs.
We have a series leading up to April 23rd, 2023, with BAEvolution, where it cultivates and evolves into these things. For me as an artist, this is the medium of NFTs because NFTs as a medium is where I did the other mediums. I was there at the birth of hip hop and this is the first time that I’ve got paid secondaries. It’s one year since I’ve been putting out a new series of NFTs, and I’ve got paid secondaries. In the CryptoTitties project I was talking about, we gave 33 ETH to TheBreasties.org in January when ETH was actual, real money.
We know what it is now, but it was almost $4,000 a coin then. That was $100,000, and they were blown away. We have been storing up this ETH. No one would take it because they were like, “I don’t understand what this play money you all have.” This is one of the things that NFT creators discover. When we work to create social good and embed it into our projects, we can’t find people to take the ETH. Television has done a great job of communicating the value of Bitcoin and Ethereum.
We were chatting a little bit. We had such fun. That’s why we’re having this interview. You were pumped about NFT LA 2023. We’d love to hear more about what you want to get out of it and why you’re pumped.What’s happening with Web3 right now is we’re all getting paid and creating abundance in our lives, not just for ourselves but for our friends and our families who doesn’t want a part of that. Click To Tweet
The NFT community in Los Angeles is one of the most vital and dynamic in the world. That’s one of the things. People in the United States may not perceive what’s happening in South Korea with NFTs, but there’s something remarkable happening there. There are these places like Los Angeles, where NFT creators are coming together and creating these hubs in the same way the technological hubs developed in all the different places. People are still trying to build technological hubs, like Silicon Valley of Utah kind of thing. That’s great, but that’s so Web2. Web3 is where the game is.
After people went to NFT LA this 2021, they moved to Los Angeles because of what they saw and experienced in the community that came together and lived in Los Angeles. If you had to pick two to go to, without a doubt, it would be NFT NYC and NFT LA. That’s to your credit because that was the first time you pulled off that major event. Most people do an inadequate job on the first go around. I had so many seminal experiences at that conference. I had the relationships that are crucial to my success now, like John Dean, who is renowned, who did release that NFT dropped with Chris Brown, his brand, and everything.
I was at the Kanye West video drop that happened there. That’s one of the parties in the Hollywood Hills where they broke the video into NFTs, and the people got pieces of a Kanye West video. There are creators and artists from Web2 who are trying to find a way they can harvest from Web3. There are creators who are indigenous to it, have authenticity, and are sometimes making mistakes, learning from it, and then going on to become the artists that we all know we are or that we can be.
There’s something important that Gabe Weis, a real-life painter and NFT painter, has said. He said this, “If you are here now, you are early. If you are here three years from now, you’re early. Why not get here now?” It’s a year until NFT LA. There is no reason that a person can not make plans to show up to this event. When we get to a place where like, “I can’t do it for this reason,” those are decisions. The future is unfolding. We’re the authors and architects of that. Why wouldn’t we be there?
Hip hop is being born, and we live in New York. It’s over here, but it’s like, “I got to cross the bridge to go and visit the birth of hip hop.” The difference between this and that between the birth of hip hop and what’s happening with Web3 now is everybody is getting paid and creating abundance in our lives, not just for ourselves but for our friends and families. Who doesn’t want a part of that?
We’re creating a bigger pie, 100%. NFT LA, March 20th to the 23rd, 2023, we’re there to spark inspiration and relationships just as you described. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. Where can folks go to follow you and all of your exploits? There are so many things happening.
I’m on my own social platforms. I was with Dr. Sian Proctor. I mention her all the time. She’s an astronaut who’s also an NFT creator. She did artwork in space that was brought back to Earth. She and I are working on some projects now. I’m on all social platforms. Twitter is my main go-to. That’s the best way to get ahold of me.
Another thing is if anybody needs to get a hold of me or wants to ask any questions, that’s another thing about the NFT community is everybody is accessible, open, and supportive. This is that time. We have Eric Zener. You can see it in his work. He wanted to go to space. He’s a big space guy like me. I was at this gallery. That’s imbued in his work.
We’ve got to get this guy to space. We want to give a shout-out too. We stepped into this gallery impromptu to get an interview as a nice quiet space. The gallery itself was gracious in letting us come in here and use their space. The gallery is called Gallery Henoch. It’s a beautiful space in Chelsea. Come on out, visit, and check out the art right by the river. This is one of the beautiful things about New York, Chelsea, and SoHo, where we were also previously. It’s being able to walk into these incredible art galleries. It’s a real privilege. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Mike, for taking the time.