Interesting things about ISS and living in Space

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International Space Station or ISS is one of the most amazing creations of mankind; a spaceship that can actually accommodate humans and let them enjoy living in space and looking at the earth from 270 miles above; the experience is UNREAL!

This huge floating space station is actually a strange contraption occupied by astronauts since the year 2000 to keep an eye outside the earth as well as on the earth’s atmosphere. ISS came into existence with the help of the contribution from 15 nations, in which NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia) and European space agency contributed the most. Canadian space agency and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency were also a part of the plan.

Even though the ISS is successfully hurtling around the Earth but it constantly needs to be taken care of for repairment and mechanics in order to sustain its long life in space. Every group of astronaut gets to live on ISS for 6 months and most of their time is spent in repairing the machine.

Life on ISS may sound fun to you on earth but it actually has many challenges to face once you reach there. Adventure starts from the day you get on the space shuttle to get fired up in the air enroute to your destination.

How do astronauts get to ISS?

Astronauts get on board a rocket that launches from Russia. The giant rocket has a small capsule on its tip that carries astronauts inside and keep them safe for the journey to the ISS. Once the rocket pushes the capsule out of Earth’s gravitational force, the capsule detaches itself from the rocket and flies towards the ISS. When reached, it attaches itself to the ISS and the astronauts move inside the station.

Image: The Verge

What’s there inside ISS?

If you expect ISS to have a fancy and luxurious high tech interior, you may get disappointed as it’s pretty messy inside. The entire station has nothing more than a network and system of labs, control rooms and living quarters for astronauts. It actually has everything that it needs to keep it up there in the space but it isn’t designed for human comfort.

Nasa

ISS Size and Weight?

You might get shocked to read this but International Space Station isn’t a size of a big house as what you’d normally think. Rather ISS is a huge machine, a slightly larger than a full sized soccer field and it weighs around 450 tons (408,000 kg), or 450 times the weight of an average car but only six astronauts share the entire station for a six months duration. Crew changes twice a year.

Weightlessness inside ISS:

If you follow NASA, you may have seen many videos coming from ISS, sharing a sneak peek into the lives of its crew. You get to see everything floats in the air inside ISS including its crew. This happens because of the extreme velocity generated by the station revolving around the earth at about 17,150 miles per hour, taking the weight of everything away. Dealing with weightlessness inside ISS is a challenge for every crew member to spend the duration of at least six months inside.

Odd life at ISS:

Due to weightlessness of ISS and everything inside, life is challenging for the crew and pretty funny and odd for the outsiders to watch. Your food and water floats in the air, you sleep tighten up by a belt on your bed or zipped into a sleeping bag. And your poop and urine is sucked in by an equipment into a plastic bag. Well it’s space, right? it has its own rules totally opposite to earth’s.

How’s the menu on ISS?

If you think that the crew has to compromise with their appetite as well, you’re wrong! Astronauts before getting on board ISS are given a chance on Earth to decide the menu for their stay on the station above. This includes the privilege to even have your own cultural food on the menu, however, the food sent to the ISS is dehydrated and is kept inside sealed pouches that need to be added with some water before eating.

Image: NASA
Astronaut enjoying milkshake on ISS / Image by NASA

NASA is also experimenting with growing plants in Space for future endeavors. A project called The Advanced Plant Habitat which is a part of the mission “Space Green” is all about having to grow your own food in space. The progress so far has been tremendous and it is suggested that crew will soon be able to enjoy space-grown veggies on their expedition.

Photo Credit: Jim Siegel / SpaceFlight Inside

Things you wish you didn’t know about living on ISS:

  • Because of the limited supply of food and water to the station, astronauts have to be very careful of their supplies so that they don’t run out of it before the next package arrives. You could spend some days without food but water is a necessity you can’t live a day without, hence recycling of water is done on the ISS; which includes every type of water. Yes, the dirty wash water, sweat on clothes, water from the crew’s breathing and even the urine is recycled with the help of a high-tech water filter that purifies every sort of water and turns it into reusable.
Water treatment system on ISS / NASA
  • Simple tasks like taking a bath or even washing your face or hands become annoying. Since water floats around too just like everything else in there, thus you first spray some water on your skin and hair and then try to rub it everywhere making sure it cleans out the dirt. The sweat droplets out of the skin don’t stay on the skin, rather floats around. Astronauts have to constantly use a towel to absorb the sweat in it.

  • Handling tiny things is more difficult than handling bigger object on ISS. For example, clipping nails or combing hair; doing it near a vent prevents them from floating in the air.

So, do you think you can handle all this if given a chance to spend a duration of six months on ISS? Well in my case, I may not be able to enjoy months in there, but i could definitely manage a week or two in space. What about you?

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