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What You Don't Know About Living in Space

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the roughing-it-is-rough dept.

Space 298

Ant writes "There are spectacular moments, as well as the mundane, in space. Over the years, living in space has forced astronauts to make a few concessions to things you would not give a second thought about when staying at a hotel/motel. The article lists a few things that people may not have known about living in space." Your iPod needs to be modified to use Alkaline batteries. And also, did you know... that in space... you only get one spooooon. And some people, are spoon millionaires...

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298 comments

New business model (4, Funny)

Tejin (818001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759926)

1. Go to space 2. Take spoons and become a spoon baron 3. ???? 4. Profit

spoon millionaires? (1, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759934)

A million spoons? It seems like there'd be better things to take up into space than that...

Re:spoon millionaires? (3, Funny)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759962)

Well, you don't need razors, because beards don't grow in space.

Re:spoon millionaires? (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760246)

what's this? This can't be true!

Re:spoon millionaires? (3, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760382)

Source:
This documentary [youtube.com] :)

Aliens can grow beards, but not people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760418)

The universe has an atmosphere of -5.

Re:spoon millionaires? (1)

dohzer (867770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760176)

What's the whole spoon thing about anyway?

Re:spoon millionaires? (4, Insightful)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760266)

Actually I'm not sure they use spoons at all, anything you're allowed to eat that would be spoonable is sucked out of a sealed bag so it won't break up and jam equipment. I think you only get a knife and fork. And I'm pretty sure there's no crispy food, crumbs and all.

Re:spoon millionaires? (4, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760310)

So what you're saying is..

There is no spoon.

Re:spoon millionaires? (1, Funny)

SpammersAreScum (697628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760512)

First, what lunkhead moderators called this insightful?!?! Second, we are now faced with the astonished realization that there are moderators unfamiliar with The Matrix! The mind ... wobbles.

Re:spoon millionaires? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760396)

My wife insists on eating just about everything with a spoon. Cake, pasta (the small noodles), and just about anything else that doesnt actually require a fork.

Re:spoon millionaires? (4, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760384)

RTFA, it's short.

The astronauts are issued one set of silverware per mission. It's not just a spoon. But because they cannot do dishes, they wipe them down with a disinfectant towlette at the end of each meal.

And since there is no money, as they approach the end of the mission whoever has squirreled away enough m&m's or tortillas has the most "bargaining power" to trade for whatever else is left.

They also never warn you about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22759946)

Facehuggers.
Jason.
Aerosmith.

No one can hear you scream? (2, Funny)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759952)

Personally, I enjoy people being able to hear me scream at the Holiday Inn. :)

Re:No one can hear you scream? (4, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760120)

I was in the room next to your last year, trust me, I didn't enjoy it a bit. And what were you screaming about anyways? There was no one in the room with you but it sounded like an orgy going on over there.

Re:No one can hear you scream? (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760164)

Yeah, I was alone, so what? I was rehearsing for an audition. ;)

I'm not concerned whether YOU enjoyed it... it's all about you you you, isn't it?

Re:No one can hear you scream? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760422)

That night it was all about me, I couldn't get any from the girl I managed to talk into coming back to the room because she was convinced that "every one would find out with the paper thin walls". It ended up being just like every other night but it costs me an extra $125 to goto sleep because I was in a hotel room.

Anyways, did you get the part?

Re:No one can hear you scream? (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760494)

> It ended up being just like every other night but it costs me an extra $125 to goto sleep because I was in a hotel room.

Hey, quit complaining. Just imagine what it would have cost to take her into space for a little privacy!

> Anyways, did you get the part?

Ask your hotel girl. ;)

From TFA... (4, Funny)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759966)

Astronauts' meals are color coded on shuttle missions -- and reliable sources tell ABC News some astronauts aren't above switching the colored dots on their dehydrated meals if they have run out of say, lasagna, on day six and have way too much creamed spinach left.

[Insert Garfield joke here.]

Re:From TFA... (3, Funny)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760020)

I'm sorry. Perhaps I'm missing something, but no matter how many times I read that statement, it says "Garfield" immediately followed by "joke". Is this some new variant of the Chewbacca Defense?

Re:From TFA... (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760100)

Garfield [wikipedia.org] , a comic-strip cat that stopped being funny about 25 years ago.

Re:From TFA... (4, Funny)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760148)

Oi. Garfield is still hilarious - if you remove the eponymous cat [tumblr.com] ...

Re:From TFA... (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760320)

Oi. Garfield is still hilarious - if you remove the eponymous cat...
Encyclopedia Dramatica's page on Garfield [encycloped...matica.com] (especially the gallery of Garfield reworkings [encycloped...matica.com] ) has more stuff in that vein. Some of it is crap (Jon f****s his cat, yawn), some of it is good.... much of it is very strange. (Oddly, some of the strangest stuff is also the funniest- or maybe that's just my sense of humour. Especially the running gag about the "eyes".... WTF?!)

It says a lot that this stuff is more interesting than the actual cartoon strip has been for at least 15 years.

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760426)

Wow, that video is possibly the most incredible thing I have ever seen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ2q9NmYf6g [youtube.com]

Garfield (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760050)

Astronauts' meals are color coded on shuttle missions -- and reliable sources tell ABC News some astronauts aren't above switching the colored dots on their dehydrated meals if they have run out of say, lasagna, on day six and have way too much creamed spinach left.

When President Garfield was addressed for comment, he said "Where am I and what is an astronaut?"

No pizza? (4, Funny)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759968)

When I was a kid, I really wanted to be an astronaut. When I was told though that they had a 6 foot tall maximum height requirement, I was devastated. (I'm not sure if this is still true, I've later heard of 6'2" astronauts). Regardless, now I don't feel so bad, as they do not have pizza in space. How do they cope?

Re:No pizza? (1)

Free_Meson (706323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760016)

I'm sure you could get pizza puffs in space if you really wanted some.

http://www.iltaco.com/fsp/if.html [iltaco.com]

Re:No pizza? (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760420)

Regardless, now I don't feel so bad, as they do not have pizza in space. How do they cope?
I know you are joking, but you should read the word pizza from a more symbolical point of view. The point is that if you are on a long mission in space and deprived from eating whatever you want (such as pizza), you will end up dealing with issues you had no idea you could be having. I don't like eating pizza and I rarely eat any, but if I was forbidden to eat it, it would definitely make me want one more.

No Pizza? (5, Interesting)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759972)

Funnily enough a friend and I were recently discussing the interesting geometric possibilities which would be possible when cooking in zero g, one of the recipies we came up with was the sperical pizza, where the dough gets inflated into a sphere (you need the air because the pizza dough would want to shrink) and the topping get layered around the outside, all of course being stick to the dough using the sticky marinara sauce.
This could then be cooked in an oven with the 'inflation pipe' blowing hot air into the middle to cook the dough, and also acting to keep the 'space pizza' in the middle of the oven.

The result, pizza with no crusts!

Re:No Pizza? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760012)

I love your idea of a sphereical space pizza, but with no laundry services I'm not sure the "marinara on the outside" concept would fly. Pun only slightly intended. Maybe there would be a way to have all the wet ingredients inside the dough ball, if if it costs $1000 per pizza to make it work, that's still a very small line item in any space mission.

Re:No Pizza? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760022)

Great idea, but do you cut it geodesically or geographically?

Dibs on the pentagonal pieces!

Re:No Pizza? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760144)

The crust is there so you can hold a Pizza piece in your hand. Without crust you make your fingers dirty!

Re:No Pizza? (5, Interesting)

synth7 (311220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760160)

Spherical pizza would be difficult to cook properly, though. Frankly I think you'd be much better off to cook a cylindrical pizza in a centerfuge, with the toppings on the inside.

In fact... I think I need to file a patent on this method...

Re:No Pizza? (1)

ArAgost (853804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760212)

Pizza with no crust? That's an inhuman experiment.

Re:No Pizza? (1)

delibes (303485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760404)

Sweet. Call it the 'Dyson Pizza' and trademark it before the franchises do! Can't believe they can't do ice cream. Surely space is cold enough in the shadow of the space station (I just watched Sunshine) to make it from the ingredients?

I weep for national news services (0, Troll)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759976)

if that's the kind of crap (even edited incorrectly) they're putting out.

Re:I weep for national news services (5, Insightful)

supremebob (574732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760066)

A lot of the article isn't accurate, either. For example, they've had freeze dried "astronaut ice cream" for decades! Almost every science museum that I've ever been to sells this stuff. I've heard that they've also tried "space pizza" prototypes as well.

I also find it hard to believe that the standard battery on an iPod is going to suddenly going to turn into an explosive device if they take it into space. That sounds like more of a bureaucratic oversight than anything else.

Re:I weep for national news services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760232)

It may be hard to believe but I think this correct. I'm an embedded developer that works on Shuttle / ISS payload systems. I don't believe any commercial rechargables are allowed for reasons noted. Our embedded systems must fly with certified Alkaline batteries for backups.

batteries (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760470)

What do they use for the really big onboard batteries then? (if you know) thanks in advance!

Re:I weep for national news services (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760236)

It's true that in general, when an iPod goes into freefall, it stops working very quickly. Maybe some idiot has just taken that rule of thumb, true on Earth, and applied it to space?

Re:I weep for national news services (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760248)

Lithium metal is prohibited, if the batteries are mistreated lithium metal can form, hence it is banned.

I am just wondering, why not use nickel metal hydride chemistry, the laptops on the ISS use it, it would save the annoyance of disposable alkalines.

Re:I weep for national news services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760434)

why not use nickel metal hydride chemistry

Jobs wouldn't hear any of it. No, he doesn't oversee these space missions. He's the one floating outside the spacecraft, with hands large enough to crush the ship if he so desired.

But he will think of something.

In space, no one can hear you scream for ice cream (3, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760250)

A lot of the article isn't accurate, either. For example, they've had freeze dried "astronaut ice cream" for decades!
It turns out that "astronaut ice cream" really has little to do with spaceflight. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] "Apollo 7 in 1968 was the only NASA mission on which space ice cream flew in outer space." Space ice cream was a special request for one of the Apollo missions," Kloeris said. "It wasn't that popular; most of the crew really didn't like it, so it isn't used any more. [nasa.gov] "

Re:I weep for national news services (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760412)

I also find it hard to believe that the standard battery on an iPod is going to suddenly going to turn into an explosive device if they take it into space. That sounds like more of a bureaucratic oversight than anything else.

They've caught fire [wsbtv.com] here on Earth. I expect the effect of such a fire in space would range anywhere from serious to catastrophic.

Re:I weep for national news services (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760430)

I was going to post asking about the ice cream before. I've heard of freeze dried ice cream on several occasions, there are even places you can buy it here on earth. I have no idea how the process works, but it makes ice cream that does not need to be frozen.

As for the iPods, I'm sure that's a technicality. They are a bit paranoid about safety up there since you can't just dial 911 in an emergency and get help on the way in 9 minutes. They probably remove the batteries and then attach them to the external packs you can buy around here, that take four AA batteries.

It's also very likely they have an alternate adapter to jack into the ISS's grid to power it, a bit like a cigarette lighter jack but something smaller I'm sure. The batteries are probably only needed when they are inconveniently away from an outlet, or say out on a space walk.

I bet they have even more stringent requirements though for what you can take on your person when on a space walk. It would not surprise me if ipods are barred. And for some of those 8 and 11 hour marathon walks we hear about from time to time, that's gotta be a bummer.

I'm surprised this article gave so few details though - I've heard offhand of numerous other issues I was expecting to read about in this article. It had all of what, five interesting factoids? Lets hear about

- toilets
- showers
- drinking liquids
- anything to reduce weight on liftoff, like hair cutting
- I wonder if there's an "in case of emergency" bean-o pack on board? heh... y'know, one recirculating air system and all...
- the sorrid details of a long space walk. how do you drink? anything for food in 8-11 hr walks? yes, you get to wear a diaper and WILL be using it, etc
- stories of what happens when an astronaut gets sick - flu etc. I recall someone on Appolo getting appendicitis in mission.
- do astronauts sign an agreement not to have sex while up there? or how was that addressed? you know they had something to say about it.
- personal limitations? we saw max height mentioned, but is there a minimum? how about weight? (of course!) are implants ok? glasses barred am guessing? are contacts ok? medical history? I assume the same rules of being a pilot apply, plus more, as far as medical are concerned. Minimum strength requirements?
- what is their contingency plan for if an astronaut dies while up there? (aneurism, accident, whatever) Again you KNOW they have an action plan for this because they HAVE TO. Do they keep body bag(s) on board or just gonna wrap the body in a lot of duct tape?
- cross training? I have to assume all astronauts have at least basic knowledge of 100% of the critical systems?

That article is soooo lacking.

Re:I weep for national news services (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760432)

I also find it hard to believe that the standard battery on an iPod is going to suddenly going to turn into an explosive device if they take it into space. That sounds like more of a bureaucratic oversight than anything else.
FTFA: "Though iPods can fly on the space shuttle, when the shuttle docks to the space station, iPods can't cross over the hatch because they haven't been certified to fly on the space station yet."

It's not a "bureaucratic oversight".
NASA hasn't certified (those) lithium batteries for space.
And NASA hasn't certified iPods for use on the space station.
If it isn't tested, it doesn't fly.

It may seem like bureaucratic red tape, but that kind of meticulousness is what keeps the space program so safe.
On the upside, at least astronauts get to have iPods with replaceable batteries.

Space, (1, Redundant)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759982)

It's really really really really really really big.

Re:Space, (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760408)

Space is big
Space is dark
It's hard to find
A place to park
Burma Shave

WIN a FREE TRIP in SPACE! EMAIL MASSJUNK@GMAIL.COM (1)

massjunk956 (1237948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760000)

WIN a FREE TRIP in SPACE! email us at MASSJUNK@GMAIL.COM [mailto]

No fans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760004)

fortunately they dont have fans, coz when the shit hits it in space. oooh man!

No laundry (5, Funny)

GersonK (541726) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760010)

"Their T-shirts, socks and underwear have a special silver thread lining that absorbs odor and keeps items wearable longer." "Now this is made from a space-age fabric specially designed for Elvis. Sweat actually cleans this suit!"

Re:No laundry (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760388)

Elvis? Psst. Chuck Norris needs no special underwear: He sweats fabric softener.

Silver-lining Laundry (5, Funny)

GWLlosa (800011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760026)

So they have laundry that is special treated to go for weeks without being washed. Is it a bad sign that my first thought is "Man, if I had that, I wouldnt' have to do my own laundry so often! Where can I order some?!"

Re:Silver-lining Laundry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760124)

Is it a bad sign

No, the real bad sign is that you're browsing Slashdot when you're supposed to pay attention to the raid.

Re:Silver-lining Laundry (2, Funny)

BenBoy (615230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760318)

Bad sign? For you, no. For your significant other ye... oh wait, slashdot, right. Call me if you find em...

There IS Icre Cream in Space (5, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760030)

According to the article, "There is also no ice cream in space. No freezer." But besides freeze-dried ice cream, [wikipedia.org] according to this blog, [livescience.com] they actually did have frozen ice cream on the ISS.

Re:There IS Icre Cream in Space (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760192)

correct, there are refrigeration units for food on the ISS. they have things like Milk, OJ, IceCream (real) and other things like that. The article is incredibly out of date or based on bad information. Most of the meals do not require forks, spoons, etc... Some do but the astronauts typically dont use them unless it's a photo-op for news.

Also lots of the other items are off. the ISS has regular garbage runs, Progress supply ships turn into garbage containers for the return trip/burnup. you finish all your food because you are on an incredibly scripted and designed diet for you. The portion you were given was designed for you and it is incredibly important to your health to eat your diet plan. Ipods may have been banned but other mp3 players that use a approved battery design (AA cell size) have been welcome for a long time now and the ISS crew is allowed several personal items.

Besides, a year ago the sent up a mp3 player loaded with songs that some Norwegian girl chose as music for people in space, that mp3 player model was certified for use and is in use by ISS personnel. Just because they cant have a Trendy Ipod means nothing to them.

Re:There IS Icre Cream in Space (1)

magicchex (898936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760380)

It seems like the article mentions the space station at first but then focuses on the space shuttle in the "facts" section. Maybe this is where some of the discrepancies come from?

Re:There IS Icre Cream in Space (3, Interesting)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760204)

Would it not be easy to have an unheated compartment insulated from the ISS, with 5 sides exposed to open space and in a shadow? I'm sure it would get cold enough (by heat radiation), and it would probably be useful to have a freezer to keep food/experiments fresh.

Re:There IS Icre Cream in Space (4, Informative)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760454)

Would it not be easy to have an unheated compartment insulated from the ISS, with 5 sides exposed to open space and in a shadow? I'm sure it would get cold enough (by heat radiation), and it would probably be useful to have a freezer to keep food/experiments fresh.


Things don't need to be heated in space, they need to be cooled. Radiation is generally not a very efficient way to get rid of waste heat, so it's usually quite warm in any enclosed space. So no, you can't really keep stuff cool without active refrigeration, which generates heat of its own that has to be radiated, so you don't want to do any more than necessary.

Re:There IS Icre Cream in Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760268)

"There is also no ice cream in space."

In space, no one can hear your ice cream.

taco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760036)

i never really pay attention to who posts the articles, except when i see incoherent rambling at the end of the post. i look up, and sure enough it's the same babbling idiot - taco.

What NASA has a budget crunch (0, Troll)

patio11 (857072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760040)

When you want to custom-mod your Apple products, you just have to accept that everything is going to be expensive squared.

88=D super ballsack stack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760104)

8888888888888888888888====D

YOU CANNOT beat the super ball sack stack!

Implications for exploring other planets (3, Informative)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760108)

Carries a lot of implications for traveling to even near by planets, with travel time measured in months instead of days. It's tough enough to manage consumables, but traveling to Mars without a change of clothes or some way to launder them is a huge technical challenge all on its own. Maybe clothing becomes another consumable, dispose after using. And you have to pack enough groceries to sustain the entire trip, grow your own or starve if there's a mishap.

And those are our near neighbors, even living on the moon. Extended life in space is going to involve a lot of research. Let's face it, we're adapted for life on this planet. Trying to carry these living conditions across space is not only a technical challenge, it's a financial one as well. Who's going to pay for all this technology? All the lift capacity to get it into space and...then what? If we set up a moon base, we have to supply it. That's not going to be cheap. A Mars trip...even more expensive.

Re:Implications for exploring other planets (3, Insightful)

gaforces (1082431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760284)

Because it's more cost effective to just build bombs to make enough room for future generations and steal their resources ...

Re:Implications for exploring other planets (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760346)

All the lift capacity to get it into space and...then what? If we set up a moon base, we have to supply it. That's not going to be cheap. A Mars trip...even more expensive.

Oh No ... It's going to be a bit tricky!

Who's going to pay for all this technology?

Well, if we don't get off this rock we ALL are, and the sooner we get started the cheaper it is likely to be! At some point the World is going to need all the money it generates just to try and keep the ever expanding population alive - at that point it will be even more difficult to raise the funds required. About now really is the right time to start forging a path to the stars - well, let's start with our satellite and neighbours!

Re:Implications for exploring other planets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760514)

traveling to Mars without a change of clothes or some way to launder them is a huge technical challenge all on its own. Maybe clothing becomes another consumable, dispose after using. And you have to pack enough groceries to sustain the entire trip, grow your own or starve if there's a mishap.

1. Abandon modesty in a temperature/humidity controlled environment like a spaceship. Save clothes for TV appearances.
2. Cryogenics to escape boredom / running out of groceries.

What's up with this article? (0, Redundant)

WalterGR (106787) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760110)

Worse... grammar... ever.

Re:What's up with this article? (1)

ACDChook (665413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760146)

Worse... grammar... ever.
I believe you mean 'Worst'.

Re:What's up with this article? (1)

Jens Egon (947467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760224)

Whooorst!

Re:What's up with this article? (0, Redundant)

Scutter (18425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760166)

Worse... grammar... ever.

"Worst", actually. :-)

Re:What's up with this article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760210)

And - WTF!, is... up with? your. punctuation;

Re:What's up with this article? (0, Offtopic)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760328)

I suspect that CmdrTaco is completely shitfaced, what with St. Patrick's Day and all. At least, it's St. Patrick's Day if you decide to accept the new date set by that old guy with the funny hat who thinks he has the power to move holidays. I mean, who the hell does he think he is?

no messes (1)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760112)

you don't have to worry about who is gonna sleep on the wet spot that night. Though I didn't look from a female perspective; it actually might be frustrating to them.

Food in space/Antarctic (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760134)

When I was posted in Antarctica for a year they gave us all a questionnaire about what foods we liked/disliked, to determine what to put in my food parcel. When I got over there I found they had packed all the foods I didn't like ! It's supposed to stop you scoffing all your food quickly. I was thinking of killing and eating penguin within a week.

Bastards.

I imagine space expeditions such as a manned Mars mission will use a similar methodology - fussy eaters beware when you fill in the form !

Illusion and reality (2, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760140)

Prof. Hawking thinks the only hope for the human race is to colonise space. And after 50 years of trying, people still have to take their underwear home to wash it just as if they were students. The gap between the fantasy (sending large numbers of humans with the equipment to colonise other planets across vast distances) and the reality - it will take nearly three weeks of testing before they have the nerve to try to dock a 7 tonne pod to the ISS, and we can barely keep a few people going a few hundred miles up - is literally astronomical.

Given the huge success of unmanned missions to the planets, it really is very tempting to ask, why don't we just stop doing this stuff. Either we are going to have a planetary energy crisis, and will have to stop wasting vast amounts of fuel on sending people to orbit, or we will find a clever fix, and so be able to do this much more cheaply at some future date. It seems pointless to do something not very useful at the limit of human capability when there are so many more interesting engineering problems to solve - energy efficient housing and vehicles, efficient and cheap solar power, all need the technologies used in manned spaceflight, but on a different scale and in different ways. A ten year moratorium on manned spaceflight with the effort entirely going into solving energy supply and global warming problems could have a huge payback.

Re:Illusion and reality (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760218)

now imagine what a 10 year military spending moratorium could do

Re:Illusion and reality (4, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760300)

Well I think they are doing things wrong. They keep talking about travelling to Mars etc when what they should do is focus on building much better space stations. Once you have a space station with artificial "gravity", decent radiation shielding, and all the other good stuff so that astronauts can live on it for years without suffering so much like the russian astronauts, then you can talk about travelling. In fact people might then prefer to travel to the asteroid belt instead - get raw materials for building more space stations without having to spend lots of energy fighting a gravity well.

They might also want to try out tethered satellites. Instead of a full space elevator right from the start, try suspending the "comms/sensor" bits of the satellite closer to earth, with the counter weight at the other end (solar panels etc), so that the satellite is still in geostationary orbit, but you have much better comms latencies. I suspect some people are willing to pay a premium for lower latency sat comms. If they can't even do such satellites then I think trying for a space elevator is silly.

They left off burping (5, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760152)

On earth, gravity striates your stomach contents so the heavier stuff is on the bottom and the gas is on the top. So when you burp it's mostly gas which comes up. In space, this doesn't happen, and burping is a lot like throwing up. So foods that make you burp, like carbonated beverages, are a no-no.

A similar environment (sort of) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760158)

The eskimos live in small quarters for long periods during the arctic night with few resources. In many ways it seems similar to what the astronauts have to endure. The eskimos have been surviving that way for thousands of years. They seem to have figured out how to do it right. So, why don't they select eskimos to be astronauts? It's pretty much guaranteed that if you put eskimos in orbit, you wouldn't have to worry about them going nuts and doing something irrational.

No ice cream? No Freezer? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760180)

Okay, others seem to be talking about freeze-dried ice cream being available (blech). But in any case it seems like there'd be a way to design a freezer that takes advantage of the close proximity of outer space.

(Imperfect analogy warning) Back when I was in college, which was before the days of affordable small refrigerators, we used to take stuff we wanted kept cool and hang it in a plastic sack outside our dorm window. For a good part of the Seattle school year, it's cool enough outside for that to work...

Also unusual for the common man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760202)

Getting paid to go to fucking SPACE! If one of the astronauts ever complains again about not being able to eat pizza in orbit, there are probably millions of people who would gladly eat the same tasteless synthetic food every day if they were allowed to take the astronaut's place...

There are reasons for no Pizza in space (3, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760216)

Among them are that pizza is a gravity sensitive food. There is an up side and a down side. The crust may be flaky or crumbly at times and that's a big problem in 0-G environments. But more than that is the possibility of liberated ingredients. I know it might seem funny to say it, but no one needs a "flying sausage in space."

I do like to say it though... heh... flying sausage...

Re:There are reasons for no Pizza in space (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760460)

Among them are that pizza is a gravity sensitive food.
I guess this means that random probability breaks down in zero gravity.


We can carry equip the ISS with carpeting of various values, but measuring the frequency of bread falling butter side down will be impossible.

Re:There are reasons for no Pizza in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760482)

So why don't they have a centrifuge like USS Discovery One, yet, so there *is* a "down"? Surely that would be of use to some of their science experiments, too.

Apparently you don't get spell check either (1)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760228)

Your iPod needs to be modifie to use Alkaline batteries. And also, did you know... that in space... you only get one spooooon.

But luckily, unlike Taco, you do get a spelling checker!

Re:Apparently you don't get spell check either (1)

crispin_bollocks (1144567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760314)

Somebody hasn't watched enough episodes of The Tick

Could someone clarify (1)

carnivorouscow (1255116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760230)

...why rechargeable lithium batteries aren't OK in space but alkaline batteries are? I can't think of any way gravity would affect battery operation or why the electrode material would matter.

Re:Could someone clarify (1)

kailoran (887304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760286)

There have been cases of lithium bateries igniting or even exploding. It doesn't matter that it's very rare -- it can happen with consumer-grade li-something batteries, so they are not allowed. The worst that can happen with an alkaline battery is a small corrosive leak, and then again it doesn't really happen with new batteries, and would not endanger the entire station anyway.

Gravity has little do do with the batteries, but the a possible fire in space is a huge no-no.

Re:Could someone clarify (1)

lexarius (560925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760306)

It's probably just that the batteries haven't been "certified" yet. The alkalines have been certified, so it's probably easier to stick them in than to certify the new batteries. Also, think back to the laptop battery fire stories we got in the last year or so.

Re:Could someone clarify (1)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760372)

yep, that's exactly what TFA said...

Re:Could someone clarify (1)

norton_I (64015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760332)

Fire hazard. Not only are there the defective batteries that internally short out and explode on their own, most lithium batteries will do this if shorted out externally. In zero-G it is easier for metal particles to float around and get into the electronics. If they just break your ipod, no big deal. If they start a fire it is *very* bad. Doubly so with lithium batteries, since lithium fires are very difficult to extinguish and can potentially ignite other metals.

Even ignoring whether a given lithium battery would really be a hazard, it is much more effective to certify AA batteries (or a certain model of AA batteries) as safe for space, then use devices that run off of AA batteries than having to individually certify every rechargeable battery in every device you want to use.

Re:Could someone clarify (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760356)

The zero-G environment is only one thing you have to consider before you stick things in a spacecraft. You're not just putting those objects where they'll float around; you're also putting them into a closed environment that is going to stay that way for weeks, and is absolutely intolerant of fires, toxic gas production, and quite a few other things. Events that are just a pain in the ass down here will kill you in space.

rj

What I know about living in space. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22760244)

1. It's dark.
2. It's cold.
3. It's hard to breathe, what with the lack of air and all.

Modifie your iPod?! (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760254)

Won't that void the warrantie?

ObMST3K (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760256)

Listen, about the astronauts,

if you're wondering how they eat and breathe,
And other science facts.
Then repeat to yourself, "It's just a shuttle,
I should really just relax."

Here's proof they do have iPods (5, Interesting)

sighted (851500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760294)

As the Endeavor approached the space station this week, crew members on board the station snapped this shot [flickr.com] .

What you don't know about living in space... (1)

PoopDaddy (1064616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22760486)

could fill some kind of infinite vacuum.
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