Just Playin’ Around

I love speculating about life on a spacecraft. What do the astronauts do for fun while in space? I want to know. I have already investigated what they eat, where they sleep, and how they take care of personal needs. I don’t suppose they just sit and talk during a lull. No doubt they are talking or testing someone back home, usually a spouse. If this isn’t enough to fill the time, they can listen to music, watch videos, or play games. Each one probably takes turns deciding for the group if they want to stick together. Do you think they want alone time? I guess they are the type given the isolation of the space experience. Fortunately, there are ample photos to tell us what happens.

I started making up things for them to do that I will eventually submit to NASA if I dare. This nonsense is how I have fun so give me a chance and don’t abandon this blog just yet. I am going to give it great thought. Last weekend, I happen to watch a soccer game and thought this might work for a change of pace. I bet they have played baseball at one time or another. I read that one even ran the equivalent of the Boston Marathon. Now that’s something! Soccer it will be in my upcoming proposal. It is a hugely popular sport, even in the U.S. If they weren’t fans before, they can become new ones. I can see it now: the best soccer ball (after all, it’s NASA and they can afford the best), flying around at the touch of a foot in weightless gravity. Now that would be a challenge. The public relations aspect of it would boost the game in the eyes of the world, especially in America. It is already at its height in Europe and South America. The French, Germans, Italians, Spanish, Mexicans, Argentinians, and English are raving fans. Well, we can use more. It can be a real mania. Let’s let the astronauts in space put the game on a different footing (to make a groan-worthy pun).

Playing with a soccer ball in space would change the shape and size requirements no doubt. They already vary a little depending upon the players’ experience. I would have to do math calculations to test for the right features. Who then would provide the perfect ball? Of course, there will be many takers like Nike, Wilson, and Adidas. Public relations again rears its ugly head. Does anyone do anything with a profit motive and the goal of self-promotion? It’s the way of American business, my friend. Meanwhile, I am crafting a letter to NASA with just the right words. If they like it even a little bit, I will get busy on my calculations taking gravity into consideration. I may need some expert help in this regard. Meanwhile I must design some cool logo jerseys. Will they knee cleats, socks, or shin guards? There is a lot to do for this project.

How Are Repairs Made in Outer Space

I love space travel, its history and progress. I want to know every little detail—not just about the people, but the science behind the process. I have dealt with spacesuits and toilets in the past. I have talked about astronaut food and what they do in their spare time. I got to thinking about repairs in space and had no idea that some could be remedied with simple welding.

You can do most anything in space as we have seen, even welding. The Russians were the first to try. Imagine that something goes wrong and you must attach a piece of metal to the hull of the spacecraft. Any repairs are challenging for astronauts, but welding! How you ask given the lack of atmosphere, temperature, and gravity. There is a way. This is the subject of today’s blog, so stay alert.

Anything can happen when the crew are out of the earth’s protective grip. The prospect of welding in a looming, freezing void is beyond reason—and ever so fascinating. On a Soviet mission on Soyuz 6, the astronauts tested the welding process first in a depressurized environment. You would think that the spacecraft could withstand the rigors of space travel given the materials like ceramic and aluminum. Even if it can it is no match for a Russian with an arc welder like the ones on this web site. One of the crew accidentally burned a hole in the side of the living compartment during the test almost hurtling them into open space.

After their tests, the Soyuz 6 crew found that welding was entirely possible off-planet; but it wasn’t easy with an electron beam gun. Things were tough and they didn’t know what to do with the spatter so NASA was reluctant to follow suit and recommend it for emergency repairs. Nonetheless, it had to admit its value. Great care is given to outfitting the spacecraft with a lightweight hand-held torch gun that can solder, weld, and cut when needed in with limited room within or outside in space.

It gets complicated when you think about the gases in zero gravity. Remember that it is an airless environment. What do you use as a power source? You can’t use a portable generator because it has to be air cooled. NASA had to create a new kind of variable power laser welder/torch for space application that doesn’t use gas. It is compact, effective, and easy to maneuver. As you can imagine, the laser allows the astronauts to operate the device with exacting precision.

Given what I have read, and the Russian horror story, why not prevent the repair problems in the first place. If NASA can build a sturdy ship to begin with, welding dangers can be avoided unless it is a dire emergency. As the decades roll by, I am amazed at what technology has done and how many problems have been solved. American ingenuity is indeed in action.

Water is a Precious Resource, Especially in Space

I have been into astronomy since I was a child. My interest grew and expanded to the realm of astronauts in outer space. I wanted to know everything about them as people, including their education, hobbies, and families, and also about how they lived on less during space travel. I know that science has made it more than possible to exist normally on dried, but edible, food and recycled water. The space race is expensive but in the long run it is a boon to mankind as it has impacted so many fields such as engineering, medicine, geology, and more. Something as simple the reverse osmosis systems for water purification that I was reading about at https://www.homewaterhealth.com/best-reverse-osmosis-system-reviews/ are thanks to the geniuses who have sent men to Mars.

I imagine that taking anything into space is cumbersome, takes up a lot of room, and is difficult to maneuver. It is therefore expensive. Did you know that water is one of the heaviest elements on board the space station? Of course, to replenish supplies, it is not economical or reasonable to ship tanks to the ISS. Therefore, you will find a complex water system in place to provide sufficient drinkable water right on board. What happens is that the astronauts make do with a filtered mixture of recycled shower water, old astronaut sweat, and pee. I am not kidding. If you can desalt ocean water, you can filter just about any liquid. I read that the station keeps about 530 gallons in reserve for emergency purposes. You can see that the engineers had to think it all out. As my blog title states it, water is a precious commodity, especially in space.

According to the woman who manages the ISS system from the Marshall Flight Center in Alabama, the recycled water is just fine. It tastes like bottled. The only flaw in the system is the psychological impact of knowing of what your water is made. It is not so bad that some of it comes from condensate out of the surrounding air. Astronauts are well trained not to balk at such conditions. They know it is all about waste and conservation. If they can eat dried, tasteless food, they can drink this new age water. Scientists are no doubt working on more advanced forms of reverse osmosis to make the space water more palatable.

What is interesting is that the ISS is split into a US and a Russian section, and they each have a different water system. That was news to me. What was more heartening was the fact that the NASA astronauts often go over to the Russian side for the urine they don’t use. I hope you savor this little tidbit of information. I will add that NASA has started using iodine to disinfect water, but it has to be filtered to prevent thyroid issues. Russia, on the other hand, uses silver to disinfect its water since 1986—when Mir was launched.