Just when it seemed like the "Gangnam Style" phenomenon couldn't get any bigger, the dance craze has even made its way to outer space. Well, sort of.

A student co-op group at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center -- which includes two University of Colorado students -- made and starred in a parody video of Korean pop-star Psy's YouTube dance hit that has found its own viral success.

CU junior Chris Nie, who was part of the student co-op at the Johnson Space Center and is in the clip, said the video took off within minutes of being uploaded Friday. At last check, the video had more than 1.9 million views and was fast approaching 2 million.

Two University of Colorado students helped make NASA’s "Gangnam Style" parody video, which, like its inspiration, has become something of a
Two University of Colorado students helped make NASA's "Gangnam Style" parody video, which, like its inspiration, has become something of a viral hit. (YouTube)

"It was nuts," Nie said. "We had like a world-premiere type deal at the Johnson Space Center and invited everyone for the first public viewing of it. By the time we had shown it once and talked about it, it already had 300 views."

The "NASA Johnson Style" video features a Psy look-a-like singing about all of the things NASA is doing at the space center before students, workers, directors and even a few astronauts break into Psy's famous horse-riding "Gangnam Style" dance.

Nie was one of the students filmed dancing in various scenes of the video, and while the lead dancer does a good imitation of the dance, Nie said the others had a few practice sessions to make sure they had their moves down.

"There were one or two people who had it down, but we had a couple practice sessions to get it as close as we could," Nie said. "It was good because we used 3-second clips, so we could kind of get the best parts."

As far as how well he thought he did on the video?

"I think I was about a 7 (out of 10) by the end," he said. "As a whole group were about a 5."

'Pretty neat opportunity'

For fellow CU student Kirstyn Johnson, it wasn't just about learning the moves for the video. When Johnson appears at the 1:33 mark, she can be seen doing the dance in a NASA Mark III space suit.

"It was pretty hard, because the suit weighs about 150 pounds," she said. "But it was pretty cool to see the suit could move in that way and do those moves."

Working on space suits and other hands-on engineering experiences are just some of the things Nie and Johnson got to do while at the Johnson Space Center as part of the student co-op program. The aerospace engineering majors took off this fall semester from CU to work on NASA projects in Houston.

"It's a pretty neat opportunity to get real world engineering experience," Johnson said.

But it wasn't all work and no play. The student co-op always makes a video, and after seeing "Gangnam Style" take off, the students had their inspiration.

"I think it was to about half a billion views at that point, so we thought it would be a fun one to parody," Nie said.

So during their lunch hours and after work, the students went through the making of the video, which took about a month and a half. Nie said getting some of the astronauts and other engineers to play along took some convincing -- but eventually they joined in.

"Once we started getting a couple shots, the editor got the first minute nailed down, and when people saw how good it was, they started jumping on board," Nie said.

'Reaching out to people'

Nie said it helped that the success of another parody video -- "We're NASA and We Know It," a spoof of LMFAO's "We're Sexy and We Know It" that was not made by NASA -- made the agency more keen to helping spread the video.

"At NASA, the whole goal is to outreach to everyone, but particularly younger folks, to inspire them to do these things when they grow up," Nie said. "That's the most rewarding thing, seeing all the comments on Facebook and YouTube saying, 'This is really cool, so glad you guys are doing this.' The video has done a really good job of reaching out to people who wouldn't necessarily see what we're doing at NASA."

Johnson added that using a current pop culture phenomenon fit in with NASA's message that the space agency is still relevant.

"One of the reasons we wanted to get the video out there and popular is to say, 'Hey, we're still here developing technology at the Johnson Space Center," Johnson said.

The two juniors are set to return to Boulder in the spring, but at least they have a video keepsake to always remember their time with NASA.

"It's crazy seeing something this student co-op made taking off like this," she said.

Added Nie, "If I ever get a job interview with a company in aerospace and they ask if I really enjoy it, I'll show them this video. That should be enough proof."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.