Florida: New Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit – Living and Working in Space

Simulated Crawl-Through Module for Space Walk

Simulated Crawl-Through Module for Space Walk

Space Walk Tools

Space Walk Tools

Sleeping in Space Sign

Sleeping in Space Sign

Astronaut Sleeping Compartment

Astronaut Sleeping Compartment

Astronaut Space Toilet

Astronaut Space Toilet

Astronaut Space Toilet Instructions

Astronaut Space Toilet Instructions

Astronaut Kitchen

Astronaut Kitchen

At the new Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit at Kennedy Space Center, a sign says that:

“Astronauts are some of the most skilled, educated, and highest achieving people in the world.  To live in space they have to go back to nursery school.  They have to relearn how to move across a room, how to use a spoon, and how to sit on a toilet.” 

Outside in space, astronauts must learn how to work with tools while wearing a 280-pound space suit.  Inside, astronauts must learn how to live without gravity.

At bedtime, astronauts head to their own personal sleeping compartment and climb into a sleeping bag. The bag must be securely attached to any wall (there is no “up” or “down” in space). Ventilation is extremely important – without it a suffocating cloud of exhaled CO2 air would form around an astronaut’s head!  Astronauts often report seeing bright flashes of light when they are falling sleep. The flashes are bursts of space radiation that the brain “sees” as a flash.

Using the space toilet poses its own challenges for astronauts.  Aim is learned by using cameras during training on Earth.  Don’t forget to strap yourself in!  A sign details the effort required by astronauts to perform this simple task.  This exhibit is very popular –people line up to have their picture taken on the toilet!

Another exhibit shows the astronauts’ kitchen.  Every meal and calorie is planned on Earth months in advance.  Extra calcium is provided to combat bone loss.  Most meals are freeze-dried, and astronauts can’t satisfy a craving by baking cookies or going out for a pizza!  NASA is currently studying the use of 3D printers to create food (http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/feature_3d_food.html).  Sounds like the Star Trek replicator to me!

Living in space poses many unique challenges to astronauts, both physical and mental.  Dr. Monsi Roman said that:  “I think working and living on the space station taught us a lot of things.  How much we can miss looking at green trees, having the smells of the ocean.”  It goes without saying that astronauts miss the touch of a loved one.

Space exploration benefits all of us.  An interactive site showing space technology spinoffs in our daily lives is at:  http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/nasacity/index2.htm

About Pam
Richard and Pam lived in the San Francisco Bay Area 14 years (1987-1999 and 2008-2011). They lived in Florida 13 years previously, until returning in July 2011 to present. They hope their photography will encourage you to get out and discover nature's beauty in your own backyard, parks, and wild places. Click on any pictures on this blog to see them full size with additional details.

4 Responses to Florida: New Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit – Living and Working in Space

  1. elisaruland says:

    I won’t be blogging for a few days, but had to take a quick look. Glad I did! Stunning!

  2. Nice and interesting post Pam. I wondered how they did the sleep thing. No up or down. I bet that takes some getting used to. Also, I heard a good podcast on Freakonomics about 3D printers that can print food. It sounded like science fiction, but that’s how most inventions start life. ~James

    • Pam says:

      I was so excited when I heard about 3D printing of food. Scientists are also studying printing body parts for organ transplants. It is really amazing stuff. I’ll have to listen to the podcast you mentioned. They keep saying they are going to do a podcast show on that topic on “How Stuff Works”.

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