A fan of science fiction, like me, enjoys reading about space travel in space operas and other fictional adventures where humans leave the planet. But, occasionally, I wonder what kind of experience it would be to actually travel in space.
To answer this question, I’ve gone to astronaut training websites, and read experiences of actual astronauts. I was surprised to learn that there are issues around, eating, sleeping, exercise, cleaning, and dealing with bio-breaks.
First up, some food will be different. All meals that aren’t solid, like fresh fruit, will be stabilized by being drained of liquid. Think of freeze dried food, or MRE’s. Drinks will be sipped through a straw, to reduce the chance of spillage. Even the taste of food might be different. Remember your air is recycled and your stomach has to accommodate to space travel.
Next, sleeping might seem surprising at first. To keep from drifting around the cabin, you will probably fasten your body into your sleeping bag. Remember to strap your head in, so your neck muscles aren’t working all night against a swinging head.
Clothing only presents one small problem; with no loose water to wash in, you might want extra pairs of underwear. Plan on having a big laundry day, upon your return to terra firma. Other types of ablutions face similar hurdles. You won’t be spraying liquids around, so wash your body with damp towels and wipe yourself to clean up. You can use soap, but don’t let stray bubbles float around. Liquids can get into operating systems where you can’t clean them up. You especially don’t want to cultivate any unplanned bacteria in your living environment.
Exercise becomes even more important in space. The human body is working 24 hours a day against the force of gravity. In space, without gravity, the muscles, and tone will be quickly lost. Each person will need a daily regimen of exercise to keep the body fit. If you are short, congratulations, you may gain a few inches in height. But, you may feel weak as a baby when you step back under full gravity.
Also it seems, when first leaving the planet’s surface, much of the blood will rush to your head. Your head and stomach will be unstable for a few days. It might be a challenge to avoid throwing up. You head will suffer, until you can pee some fluid away. Which brings up another issue. To get rid of bodily waste, you will need to strap yourself to the toilet, using a vacuum sucking tube to pull the wastes away from you.
So, are you ready take off into space? There are a few considerations, but fortunately, some people can do it. Think about these details the next time you crack open a space opera.
I made a quiz to test your suitability for space travel, take it here:
https://www.wired.com/2014/11/marsha-ivins/ An Astronaut Reveals What Life in Space Is Really Like
http://iss.jaxa.jp/kids/en/life/ Life in Space