Picture this . . . you come home from walking the dog one day and you receive a surprise phone call from NASA. You find out that they have selected you to go into space out of millions of people. Wow! What are the odds of this actually happening? Absolutely zero. How would you survive in space? Although it would be fun to imagine the challenges involved.
First of all, if you have ever been airsick, you’ll have to prepare yourself for a whole new level of airsickness. Bodily fluids rush to the head and chest areas and your heart enlarges ever so slightly. Due to the lack of gravity you will be prone to visual illusions and your body will begin to expel the rush of extra bodily fluids running around your body. In fact, your body will be fooled into excreting calcium, blood plasma and electrolytes as well as leaving you lacking red blood cells. You will notice changes in the physical make up of your body too. Your spinal discs expand and your legs shrink through expelled fluid. You may gain in height by up to 5 centimetres, which will be a brief rest bite for short astronauts. However, the good news is that your body will adjust to these strange changes and flying through space will no doubt take your mind off things.
The exception to this is if you plan on a long journey through space, as this makes survival in space more complex, so think carefully before agreeing to a NASA contract if they offer you a trip to Mars for example. Some astronauts return from a long-haul space flight unable to stand up, and if they do manage to stand up they feel like fainting. You will suffer from a loss in muscle mass and your bone density will be reduced. In fact, Daniel Goldin, NASA’s administrator was quoted as saying that “We don’t even know if a broken bone will heal in space.” This is bad news if you are planning on taking a trip to Mars which could take around 3 years. Also, there is maybe harmful bacteria waiting on the surface of Mars that us Earth dwellers are unfamiliar with as well as carbon monoxide.
On top of these problems there is solar radiation to contend with. You can block out most of the solar radiation with ployethylene shielding for example, but according to Francis Cusinotta, the manager of Johnson Space Centre, “There’s no way you can avoid it.” This solar radiation can pass through tissue, killing cells or leaving them in an unstable state or mutilated.
On a long flight to Mars, can you imagine the psychological nightmare of being confined and isolated for that amount of time? They’ve experimented with astronauts being confined in a small room for a whole week and have said that if you do not give the astronauts something to occupy them, stress can clock up pretty quickly.
So how can you keep astronauts occupied for 3 years? Even if you have an iPad, that’s still not enough to keep your mind active for that amount of time. So . . . here are some suggestions for future astronauts that will go to Mars in the future, who have just happened to stumble on this blog on a lunch break during astronaut training.
1) Prang your car prior to taking off and then claim on your car insurance. This could potentially take more than 3 years if you live in England and you’ll need to phone regularly.
2) Again, if you live in England, get in touch with your local council, they’ll have loads of ideas to shower yourself in red tape, and forms to fill in which will take 3 years or more to wade through.
3) And once again ;), if you live in England, ask for the rules regarding the positioning and weight etc. of wheelie bins. This is more worrying that having to survive in space. You’ll be reading through lists of ridiculous finicky rules, and when you return home, the bin men will still bang your gate deliberately to wake you up early in the morning.
4) Try and figure out why crisp manufacturers fill bags with mostly air, leaving just a few crisps at the bottom, and not only that, but also try to figure out why people still buy them without complaining. It will take more than 3 years to figure out that one
5) Before embarking on your journey, fly to Mumbai and go through customs there. I guarantee you’ll be traumatised by this experience, after dealing with impolite officials, mosquitoes, long queues and being herded around like dumb cattle – enough to put you into a horrified trance for the 3 year mission. The risks associated with surviving in space would be nothing compared to this experience.