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NASA Space Science

Preventing Sick Spaceships 91

An anonymous reader writes "The official NASA home page has a writeup on one of the lesser-known dangers of living on a Space Station: space germs. 'Picture this: You're one of several astronauts homeward bound after a three-year mission to Mars. Halfway back from the Red Planet, your spacecraft starts suffering intermittent electrical outages. So you remove a little-used service panel to check some wiring. To your unbelieving eyes, floating in midair in the microgravity near the wiring is a shivering, shimmering globule of dirty water larger than a grapefruit. And on the wiring connectors are unmistakable flecks of mold.' The article goes on to describe the unlikely circumstances that form these micro-ecologies, and what astronauts do to deal with the situation."
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Preventing Sick Spaceships

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  • And this is why (Score:3, Informative)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @03:19PM (#19097831) Journal
    I voted for Moya in the poll. Moya took care of such things quite well where as other shows/ships never addressed this problem, or others regarding biological problems. In quite simple terms, the dust of dead skin cells and the mites that go everywhere with us would eventually cause problems. Moisture from the air (our breath for example) can be collected and used by micro organisms and would eventually cause problems somewhere on a long space voyage. A toilet is not sufficient to handle human waste as we drop dead cells and living organisms everywhere we go.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2007 @04:16PM (#19098315)
    This is why female astronauts are VITAL.
  • Re:Deep space Homer (Score:5, Informative)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @04:34PM (#19098497) Homepage
    The greatest problem in dealing with air recirculation on a space ship or a space station is the weightlessness. No gravity - no convection. From there on hot and cold pockets are free to form around the place and there is no means to deal with them. Same for local humid pockets, same for condensation. The last is the worst. In the presense of gravity the chilled air will flow away from the cold object and be replaced by new air. Same for water. It will drip somewhere. In weightless conditions it will just sit there and provide nice environment for rust and rot. And evolve. In an accelerated manner under the influence of cosmic radiation. The rumour goes that some of the moulds on Mir around the end of its lifetime could eat plastic (or at least the plastifier out of it).

    IMO from one point onwards this problem alone can justify any of the classic "spinning wheel" designs. It may end up cheaper building something big enough to spin it compared to dealing with the environmentals in a medium size station (or ship).
  • Re:Bottom Line (Score:3, Informative)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Saturday May 12, 2007 @05:29PM (#19098951) Homepage Journal
    IIRC no ICBM thing would qualify as heavy lift. And they are not even designed for orbital flight.

    Russia is doing it [], at least. Also, we launched Cassini, with a modified ICBM []. But you're right, even that can only do half of what a Saturn V can do.

    Just to be clear, I was talking about dumping the cargo in LEO and burning up in the atmosphere, not having the rockets actually stay in orbit

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard