Friday, March 8, 2013


Maybe I'm lacking perspective. Maybe that's the cloud hanging over my head. I've lost my perspective. I wonder at the daily toil in my life and am curious whether any good will come of my existence. I'm pretty sure the ISS will fly even without me at the helm (which I'm not, by the way).

Speaking of the ISS, here are some tidbits for that.

The International Space Station orbits an average of about 250 miles above the surface of the Earth. It travels at an average speed of 17,240 mph (7706.6 m/s). It takes the Station a little over 90 minutes to orbit the Earth. The orbit slowly decays so fuel is expended on a regular basis for a reboost. 

There are currently six astronauts on board the station. They get up at 6AM and go to bed about 10PM. On average they work ten hour days M-F and five to eight hours on Saturday. They have Sunday off.  Now the real question should be what time zone do they use? I don't know. I'll check on that.

The Station is about 238 feet long by 366 feet wide, but that includes the solar arrays. The pressurized volume (area the astronauts can maneuver in) is about 30,000 cu ft (perhaps a bit more now; I'm looking for an update). That seems like a lot, but it's about the same size as a five-bedroom house that has 3000 sq ft of living area and a ten foot ceiling. The difference is, of course, there is no ceiling on the ISS, so it's a lot of area. However, I think privacy is still a bit of an issue. If they get tired of their roommates they can't just go outside for a walk.

Astronauts can attach their sleeping bags to any surface for sleeping. Technically they could just float and sleep, but they might bump into something sensitive, so they tether their sleeping bags (and usually velcro their arms down because their arms would float straight out in front of them). The station has a lot of air circulation fans. If the air is not pretty vigorous while they are sleeping they can die from the exhaled carbon dioxide which collects in front of their faces.

Everyone asks about going to the bathroom up there. I don't have any answers, though I've seen most of the blueprints. You basically pee into a vacuum device since there's no gravity to help you. That makes me think of Iron Man 2 during Stark's birthday party.

Any other biological needs are a mystery to me. I do know almost everything is recycled, though each mission has a trash disposal stage built in. The trash supposedly burns up on reentry. Water is precious so I'm sure all water is recaptured. The astronauts take blood and fluid samples on a regular basis and these are sent back to Earth for analysis.

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