I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Astronaut Sunita Williams is one amazing woman.
Not only is Sunni a Navy Helicopter test pilot, a record breaking astronaut who ran the Boston marathon in space, but she recently completed her first Triathlon in space. This last mission (Expedition 33) Sunni competed in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. In Space. Seriously.
This past week NASAannounced that in 2015 they would be sending two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for a year-long mission. This is an expected, and necessary step in the preparation for human spaceflight to Mars. If we are to have human explorers on the surface of Mars, we need to understand the effects on humans of long-term space travel. At the moment trips to the ISS last on average 5-6 months. A mission to Mars may take 6-8 months, plus an extended time on the planet, and a 6-8 month return trip. In reality astronauts could be sent on missions of 2 years or longer.
The ISS as it orbits Earth. Photo credit NASA.
Astronauts are exposed to a number of conditions in space that can pose serious health risks, especially if exposure takes place over a long period of time. There are lots of hazards and risks for humans in space, including: ascent and descent accidents; space sickness; debris collisions; micrometeorites; hazardous and toxic gas leaks on the spacecraft; EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) accidents; sudden unexpected illness and the list goes on. Today I’m talking about the specific issues that affect astronauts during long distance flights. (By the way I use the term ‘astronaut’ as a general term, which includes astronauts from various nations, including cosmonauts from Russia, and teikonauts from China.)
If you’ve ever wondered what the ISS looked like on the inside, and how astronauts (and cosmonauts) go about their daily business? Well here’s the tour for you!
Outgoing ISS Commander Sunita Williams gives us a brief but super interesting video tour of the ISS. It’s a fascinating tour of all the modules, including the kitchen, toilet (Sunita describes the process in alarming detail…) command centre, sleeping area, right down to the extremely cramped space in the Soyuz vehicle.