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What You Don't Know About Living in Space 298

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the roughing-it-is-rough dept.
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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What You Don't Know About Living in Space

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  • by Tejin (818001) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:39PM (#22759926)
    1. Go to space 2. Take spoons and become a spoon baron 3. ???? 4. Profit
  • A million spoons? It seems like there'd be better things to take up into space than that...
  • by mfnickster (182520) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:43PM (#22759952)
    Personally, I enjoy people being able to hear me scream at the Holiday Inn. :)
    • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:22PM (#22760120) Journal
      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.
      • 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?
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          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?
          • > 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... (Score:5, Funny)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:45PM (#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.]

    • by LrdDimwit (1133419) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:56PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thewiz (24994)
      If I was the astronaut who'd had lasagna for the past 6 days, I'd probably go for the creamed spinach.
      Actually, after lasagna for 6 days, I probably be the only astronaut who hadn't gone!
    • Re:From TFA... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Daetrin (576516) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:28PM (#22761148)
      What i'd like to know is, if one of the astronauts really likes lasagna and doesn't like creamed spinach, then why doesn't NASA give them more lasagna and less creamed spinach?? These flights cost millions(?) of dollars and require the planning of thousands(?) of people. Is giving the astronauts a choice of which freeze dried tv dinner trays they take with them somehow too difficult or expensive?
  • No pizza? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nebaz (453974) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:46PM (#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?
    • I'm sure you could get pizza puffs in space if you really wanted some.

      http://www.iltaco.com/fsp/if.html [iltaco.com]
    • by eebra82 (907996)

      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.

    • Exactly how tall were you as a kid?
  • No Pizza? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by szyzyg (7313) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:47PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

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

      Dibs on the pentagonal pieces!
    • Re:No Pizza? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by synth7 (311220) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:30PM (#22760160) Homepage
      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...
    • by delibes (303485)
      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?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bitingduck (810730)
      That's an inside out calzone.
  • Space, (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Daimanta (1140543)
    It's really really really really really really big.
  • No laundry (Score:5, Funny)

    by GersonK (541726) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:54PM (#22760010) Homepage
    "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!"
  • by GWLlosa (800011) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @12:59PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by echucker (570962)
      You can buy it any place that carries hunting clothing. Undergarments with silver threads as an anti-bacterial agent are commonplace at stores like Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops. They're used primarily by bowhunters to reduce human scent when stalking prey with a good sense of smell.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moosesocks (264553)
      They make this sort of stuff for backpackers, deployed soldiers, and the like.

      However, I believe that only the "government contract developed" versions contain precious metals.

      This does also beg the question of how the russians, who would frequently stay on Mir for months on end managed to do things. I can't see a tiny washing machine being all that ridiculous of a thing to have on board.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417)
        I'm pretty sure the Russians took the average Russian stoic approach. Can man freeze to death? Yes, so we have to solve it. Can man exist without air? No, so we have to solve it. Can man die from bad smell? No, so no problem.
  • by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:00PM (#22760030) Journal
    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.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:36PM (#22760192) Homepage
      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.

      • by magicchex (898936)
        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?
    • by Locklin (1074657) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:39PM (#22760204) Homepage
      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.
      • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @02:33PM (#22760454) Homepage

        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.
    • by thewiz (24994)
      They had to get rid of it because the astronauts with Lactose-intolerance could maneuver around the space station without a MMU.
      The Lactose-tolerant astronauts were jealous!
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:20PM (#22760108) Homepage

    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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gaforces (1082431)
      Because it's more cost effective to just build bombs to make enough room for future generations and steal their resources ...
    • by AGMW (594303)
      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

      • I worry less about the money and more about our energy needs. If we don't explore and use efficient energy technologies/policies, we're going to be stuck in this gravity well until the Sun expands and burns our planet up.
    • by element-o.p. (939033) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:01PM (#22760958) Homepage
      Queen Isabella to Christopher Columbus: Carries a lot of implications for traveling to even near continents, with travel time measured in months instead of days...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 the West Indies. Sailing across the ocean is going to involve a lot of research. Let's face it, we're adapted to life on land. Trying to carry these living conditions across the ocean is not only a technical challenge, it's a financial one as well...

      But somehow, they figured it out, and we will, too.
      • by chazbet (621421) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @10:54PM (#22762948)
        Bad analogy.

        Ocean going ships are traveling in an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere at 1 G. All you need are sufficient provisions, and if you want a change in diet, throw a net or line over the side for some fish. Space ships are in Space (near vacuum, no gravity, nothing).

        Grow up, future space cadets. Space travel is not Star Trek.

        • by element-o.p. (939033) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @12:52PM (#22765922) Homepage
          You are talking about a quantitative rather than qualitative difference. Navigation was difficult in the 15th and 16th centuries. Weather was unpredictable. Power was by virtue of the wind -- too much or too little and the ships go nowhere. While you can fill your belly with fish, it is not a nutritionally complete food (can you say "scurvy"?). And if the early sea travelers got in over their heads (no pun intended), they were on their own. They had to be every bit as self-sufficient as current and future space travelers will have to be.

          My point was not that space travel will be easy -- it won't. My point was that the early explorers of the New World faced very serious problems that pushed the limit of their science and technology, and space travelers in our age will also have to face problems that challenge the limits of our science and technology. But mankind has always risen to the challenge; we will do so again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:25PM (#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 !
    • Too bad you posted AC, this is _still_ modded -1. Someone with points better fix that quick, this is the most insightful comment I've seen since the Muhammed thread.
  • Illusion and reality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:26PM (#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.

    • by TheLink (130905) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:59PM (#22760300) Journal
      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.
    • by rhakka (224319) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:21PM (#22760678)
      exactly how is this "clever fix" going to happen if we are not actively working with the knowledge we have and trying to improve it again?

      Are you assuming that we get no technological benefit here on earth trying to solve these things at the "limit of human capability"?

      You could just as easily flip your arguement around and say that one of the ways we get to develope things like better solar panels is through the efforts of the space program. That sounds like synergy, not wasted effort, to me.

      I have a MUCH BETTER idea. How about a ten year moratorium on WAR AGAINST PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T BOMBED US, with all that effort going solely to solve energy/environmental problems? That would have astronomically greater payback without also hacking at the very technological progress you are hoping to achieve.
      • But that is US politics, which I stay out of. The ISS includes European tax income, and as I pay Gordon about $40000 a year, I think I have a right to comment on how some of my taxes are spent. I'm afraid I actually support what our Army is trying to achieve in Afghanistan, where the problem there is partly caused by US funding of the Islamic fundies in the 80s. Somebody has to take a stand against people who oppress women.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:29PM (#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.
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      People seem to think outer space is cold. It isn't, it just has no temperature because there's nothing there. If you dump water in outer space it isn't going to just instantly freeze because the only way it loses heat is through radiating it out - nothing pulls the heat out of it.
      • by carambola5 (456983) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:52PM (#22761616) Homepage
        You are correct, sir. Instead of freezing, the water would actually vaporize. The near-instantaneous drop in pressure trumps the comparatively slow radiative cooling process. If you remember your phase chart for water (you know, the one with the regions for solid, liquid, and gas and a triple point joining all three), the state would fall from the liquid region into the gas region before moving left into the solid region.

        Then again, there is the sliver of possibility of freezing if the water is initially at 0C, but again, that's because the pressure drop brings it through the solid phase (then back into the gaseous phase). Radiative cooling doesn't cause the freeze.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:41PM (#22760216) Homepage
    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...
    • by PPH (736903)

      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.

    • by pz (113803)
      Gives new meaning to the phrase, "flying spaghetti monster," doesn't it?
  • Won't that void the warrantie?
  • 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."
  • by sighted (851500) * on Saturday March 15, 2008 @01:58PM (#22760294) Homepage
    As the Endeavor approached the space station this week, crew members on board the station snapped this shot [flickr.com].
  • in a submarien; except we had real food on the boat. Non-smokers could make som egood deals near the end of a deplpyment when the smokers were out of smokes.
  • FTFA:

    ``But now the people who figure out just where to stow everyone on the space shuttle have to find space for spare double-A batteries, because the iPods tend to be battery burners!''

    Compared to CD players? (mentioned earlier in the article) That surprises me.
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to Space: What You Don't Know about Living in Space, now available from Regnery Publishing! It provides a whirlwind tour about what you didn't know about space. Did you know that:
    1) The lunar landing never happened
    2) You can't grow a beard there
    3) Everything you learned from Cosmos is a lie
    Get the facts [uncyclopedia.org]
  • by Ralconte (599174) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:02PM (#22760962)
    The way I heard it, in microgravity, fluids accumulate in your respiratory tract. Being in space is like having a head cold, not exactly the best condition for getting good work done.
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:49PM (#22761936) Homepage
    The bit about no padlocks reminds me of a head-thumping bit from an episode of ST:TNG (one written during the previous writers strike, in defense of the show's regular writers). The Enterprise has picked up a 20th century business executive, who in the middle of a tense military confrontation with the Romlulans is able to nag Picard using the ship's intercomm, because the Federation assumes that everyone on board will use the comm system responsibly, so it has no authentication or usage restrictions.
  • by RockDoctor (15477) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:19PM (#22768490) Journal
    Having broken the Prime Directive of /. by RTFAing, I wonder why they're surprised that astronaut's "goody stash" become a source of "trade goods" towards the end of a mission.
    People in an isolated environment, with restricted access to status goods use a lower status material of restricted availability as a proxy for other items of value. Look in any prison at the trade in "contraband" tobacco. Look also at the submariner's tale (up-thread, look for a typo of "submarien", IIRC) of tobacco rations being treated similarly. Look back to the rationing in the war (any war), and what a GI could get for a pair of nylons. Come out to an oil rig with my colleagues and I for a couple of weeks and notice how the "can of coke and a Mars bar" becomes a local variant of a gold standard.
    To be honest, I'd suspect that the mission planners DELIBERATELY included the sweeties etc. - in a "stashable" form - so that people would develop this sort of economy. It then naturally provides a (seemingly) self-developed social lubricant to minor awkward moments. Good psychology.
    That's probably why the submariners had a "smokes" ration too. This isn't exactly a novel situation.
    Which would you prefer - chocolates, smokes, or a good dose of Rum, Sodomy and The Lash [winstonchurchill.org] (allegedly Winston Churchill's list of the traditions of the Royal Navy).

One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word. -- Robert Heinlein

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