How to live in space: what we learned from the International Space Station

Naija Tech News (NTN) on 11, and in content, How to live in space: what we learned from the International Space Station, International Space Station, space .

November 2 is the 20th anniversary of the first astronauts boarding the International Space Station (ISS). Since then, this man-made facility operating in low-Earth orbit has been inhabited by humans.

20 years of continuous operation in the space environment makes the International Space Station an ideal “natural laboratory” for understanding how humans live outside the Earth. This is a result of cooperation between 25 space agencies and organizations. Up to now, the International Space Station has received 241 astronauts and a small number of tourists from 19 countries. These people accounted for about all those who have been to space. 43%.

Human ambitions are not limited to the space station. In the near future, we may be able to witness the implementation of missions to the moon and Mars. Before that, it is important to understand what preparations humans need to make to live normally in a remote, dangerous and enclosed environment. In the depths of space, there is no shortcut home.

A brief history of orbital residence

Since this is a quiet lengthy article, we have added a table of contents for easier navigation.

How to live in space: what we learned from the International Space Station

▲ The first fictional space station in the novels-Brick Moon.

In the novel Brick Moon (Brick Moon) published by American writer Edward Everett Hale in 1869, the fictional space station appeared for the first time. Inside the 60-meter-diameter brick moon, there are 13 spherical living cabins.

In 1929, Hermann Noordung (Hermann Noordung) put forward the theory of ring-shaped space station, which can create “artificial” gravity by rotating. In the 1950s, rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (Wernher von Braun) supported the idea of ​​a spinning wheel space station. The space station that appeared in the 1968 classic movie “2001 A Space Odyssey” was designed like this .

However, the real space station is not a sphere or a rotating wheel, but a cylinder. The first space station was the Soviet Union’s “Salyut 1” in 1971. In the following ten years, the “Salyut” program successively established six space stations. In 1973, the United States launched the first space station “Skylab” (Skylab). All these space stations are tubular structures.

How to live in space: what we learned from the International Space Station

▲ The fully assembled International Space Station.

The Mir space station launched by the Soviet Union in 1986 was the first space station built with core modules, and many functional modules were added later. In 1998, when the first module of the International Space Station was launched, the Mir space station was still in orbit. In 2001, after the Mir was abandoned, it fell into the atmosphere and disintegrated in a controlled manner. The remaining part may have sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 5,000 meters.

The International Space Station is now composed of 16 modules: 4 Russian modules, 9 American modules, 2 Japanese modules, and 1 European module. Its internal area is equivalent to a five-bedroom house, with 6 regular crew members working for 6 months each time.

Adapt to space life

Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union made a flight around the earth in 1961, proving that humans can survive in space. Of course, living in space for a long time is another matter.

The current space station does not rotate, nor can it provide gravity. There is no high or low in the space station. If you let go of an object, it will float away. Astronauts’ daily activities, such as drinking water or washing, need to be planned in advance.

Many tools that act as “gravity” points are installed in the space station, protecting people and objects in the form of handrails, straps, clips, and Velcro, so that they can be fixed and not floated away.

To help the astronauts determine the position, in the Russian module, the surface facing the earth (“downward”) is designed in olive green, while the walls and surfaces facing away from the earth (“upward”) are beige. Color is also important in other aspects. For example, the “Sky Lab” in the United States lacks color so much that astronauts often stare at the colored cards used to calibrate the camera to break the monotonous atmosphere.

In movies, the space station is usually neat and clean, but reality is not the case. The International Space Station will also have a foul smell, noisy and messy, full of shed skin cells and debris. It’s like a terrible shared house, except you can’t leave, you have to work all the time; and no one can get a good night’s sleep.

How to live in space: what we learned from the International Space Station

▲ In 2016, astronaut Rick Mastracchio overlooked the earth from the dome module.

However, life on the space station also has some benefits. The dome module is a component of the International Space Station Observatory built by the European Space Agency. There, you will see what is probably the most beautiful sight that humans can see: a 180-degree panoramic view of the space station as it passes by the earth.

“Mini society in a mini world”

Astronauts use a variety of objects to express their identity in this “mini-world”, which was used in a 1972 report to describe the International Space Station. The unused wall space is like the refrigerator door in our home, covered by objects in the sense of individuals and groups.

How to live in space: what we learned from the International Space Station

In the Zvezda service module in the Russian part, the icons of the Orthodox Church and the photos of space heroes such as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Gagarin created a sense of historical belonging and a connection with the hometown. contact.

Food plays an important role in human relationships. The rituals of sharing food, celebrating holidays and birthdays help build friendship among astronauts of different countries and cultural backgrounds.

However, life in space is not all smooth sailing. In 2009, toilets once became one of the root causes of international conflicts. The decision at that time meant that Russian crews were prohibited from using American toilets and sports equipment.

In this “mini society”, technology is not only related to functions, but also plays a role in social cohesion.

Future life in space

The operating cost of the International Space Station is very expensive. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration alone spends as much as US$3 billion to US$4 billion a year, and in many people’s eyes, this is not worth it. Without more commercial investment, the International Space Station may depart from low-Earth orbit in 2028, crash into the atmosphere and rendezvous with the Mir space station under the sea.

The next stage of development of the space station is likely to occur in orbit around the moon. The Lunar Gateway project is a group of space agency projects led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and its scale will be smaller than the International Space Station. The crew will live on the space station for one month at a time.

The “Moon Gateway” module is based on the design of the International Space Station and will be launched into lunar orbit in the next ten years. In the preliminary design, the “Moon Gateway” has 4 expandable crew cabins, which provide astronauts with more space at the same time, and the distance between their sleeping, exercising, toilet and eating places is closer.

The staff of the International Space Station likes impromptu visual performance. In the future space residence, I hope that the astronauts will often show us similar scenes of life in space.

In popular culture in some countries, the International Space Station has become Santa’s sleigh. In recent years, more and more parents will take their children outdoors on Christmas Eve to watch the International Space Station flying overhead.

The International Space Station has shaped space culture in the 20th and 21st centuries and symbolized international cooperation after the Cold War. For how to live in space, the International Space Station still has a lot to teach us.

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