07 November, 2010

10 years of life aboard International Space Station -The Hindu

Next week, Nasa will commemorate 10 years of life on the space station (the first residents arrived on 2 November 2000), but fewer than 200 people have first-hand knowledge of life on board. The longer the stint, the closer these veterans come to perfecting the art of life in freefall.

There is a subtle art to moving around without crashing into anything — or, more annoyingly, others — knocking computers, equipment and other objects off the walls to which they are attached with Velcro pads. The ability to form a mental map of the space station — and then rotate it in 3D to suit your perspective — is a priceless skill for an astronaut.

Each of the crew has a closet-like cabin where they can hook a sleeping bag to the wall and settle down for the night. Some strap pillows to their heads to make it feel more like lying down. Unsurprisingly, falling asleep can take some getting used to. Just as you are nodding off, you can feel as though you've fallen off a 10—storey building. One Russian crew member is renowned for doing without a sleeping bag and falling asleep wherever he ends the day.

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