Tim Peake launches for the International Space Station tomorrow morning! Equally exciting, the Launch Zone, the second round of I’m an Astronaut, is half-way through! Already, a lot has been happening: 420 school students have logged in, the Astro Support Team have answered 234 questions in ASK , and everyone has enjoyed the 13 fast-paced and insightful live chats so far. Before we ‘launch’ into evictions week, and Tim Peake launches himself towards the ISS, read on below to check out what’s going on in the Zone.
If you’re a teacher and want your class to talk to people like ESA Flight director Simon, ISS experimenter Delma, British Antarctic Survey engineer Alex, space suit scientist Julia, post-space physio Andrew and others who make human space missions possible, you can register your interest in the next two zones at imanastronaut.uk/teachers.
Want to be a part of the Astro Support Team in the upcoming zones? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with a two line summary of how your work relates to the ESA Principia mission or other space missions and read more info here: imanastronaut.uk/astro-support-team
Thanks to the questions from students to the Astro Support Team, we’ve learned…
Space agencies around the world use swimming pools to train astronauts and test equipment for working in weightlessness during space travel. When you go into water you float to the surface, unless you have some weights attached to you and then you sink. In neutral buoyancy we attach just enough weight so that you are balanced between floating to the surface and sinking. This is probably the closest you could get to experiencing weightlessness like space flight without launching yourself into space for real.
In the early days, we did not know that the space suit expands when you go out of the spaceship. In the vacuum of space there is no pressure to squeeze it flat unlike in water. Way back in 1965 an astronaut on his first walk found he could not fit back in the door after a space walk and was stuck outside, running out of air! He eventually had to part deflate his suit just enough to squeeze back in. – Andrew
The chances of there being an ISS 2.o is pretty slim at the moment. The major space agencies are looking instead to send humans to the Moon, Mars or Asteroids. At the moment there is really only money for one big international space project at a time.
However it is possible that individual companies and countries will develop their own smaller space stations like Bigelow as mentioned also by Andrew.
Dont forget that there is another space station already in orbit: Chinas Tiangong-1. One of the ESA astronauts will probably visit this space station in the future… I’d love to work that mission! – Simon
I study quite a few, but the main one is Sphingomonas desiccabilis. It’s an incredible survivalist – its normal home is the desert, so it survives extremely hot and dry conditions during the day and extreme cold at night. It can be dried down for weeks and revived without a problem, so it’s perfect to send up to ISS. Especially since launch windows can change or other delays can pop up with a mission, so my organism is happy to chill while launches are rescheduled. S. desiccabilis also mines rock for essential elements, like iron, so it performs a useful task that we’d like to know more about in space. – Delma
It’s absolutely got to be when ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen wore the Skinsuit to the International Space Station in September this year. There was a photo taken of him on CEVIS – the bicycle they exercise on – wearing the skinsuit and I beamed with pride! Everything I had been working towards for the past 3 years was validated in one photo! That’s what I live for; moments like that! Here’s to many more 😀 – Julia
I guess there is one other big difference between Earth and Space. In space you are in a microgravity environment so in theory this bodily function according to Newtons 2nd law could provide you some kind of propulsive force with which to move if you were free floating however Im not going to ask an astronaut any time soon if someone has conducted this experiment already and in which configuration the subject would have to be in for optimum results – Simon
In general, despite having two advanced systems to clean the air, many astronauts report that the space station is quite smelly! But I guess after a while you get used to it… – Alex
And finally, the shock results are in for Most Important Decision of 2015… Spoiler: Kirk beats Skywalker! (Also Simon gets schooled on Star Wars lore)
Why Starkiller?!? – Simon
Starkiller was Luke Skywalker’s original name in the Star Wars screenplay (Annikin Starkiller was the full original name) – Delma
Even the Astro Support Team are learning important new things.
So what (space) probe-ing questions will the Team face from students this week? And who will survive the first eviction tomorrow at 3pm, as Tim soars towards his new, microgravity-enabled, home?