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There must be more fascinating facts about space travel than there is about anything else. After all, traveling through vacuum and low gravity is nothing like travel on Earth! And with the first passenger flight around the moon (by SpaceX) planned for 2018, now is a good time to stay up to date on space travel information
Here are some of the most interesting things about traveling in space, that you may find useful on your space travels in the coming decade!
10. Space smells smoky-sweet.
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Have you ever wondered how Space smells? It can’t smell of ‘nothingness’ – there’s a lot of fiery gases and dusty planets out there. The truth is, Space smells indescribable. The closest that you can get to Earth smells, as astronauts on space walks have described, is a hot metallic and meaty smell.
Other astronauts say it smells slightly sweet, like rum and raspberries. At the same time, the smell has a harsh undertone, like welding fumes have. NASA has tried to recreate the smell of space, but so far, it’s not been possible. Doesn’t the curiosity from this bit of space travel information blow your mind?
9. Astronauts grow in space!
Image source: Quora
Here’s one of the fascinating facts about space travel: astronaut spacesuits are made a little larger than skin-tight, because they actually grow in space! Spending long periods of time in microgravity makes astronauts grow about 3 percent taller. So a 6 feet tall person would grow as much as 2 inches in orbit! This actually happens because when the spine is not weighed down by gravity, the vertebra expand. This is why the astronauts gain height – but only while they’re in space. When they’re back on Earth, they lose those inches.
8. Salt and pepper are liquid!
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Here’s one of the fascinating facts about space travel that is common knowledge: astronauts usually eat pre-cooked and free-dried. You can try some astronaut food yourself at NASA’s museums. They simply rehydrate these foods with water before eating. To season their food, they carry salt and pepper. Except, the crystals of salt and pepper would float in the microgravity when the packages were opened! To resolve this problem, salt is stored dissolved in water and pepper is stored suspended in oil.
7. Space stations recycle sweat, breath and urine!
Image source: Boston
Here’s a bit of surprising space travel information. Water is precious in a space station. Scientists on board have set up systems to capture all forms of water – moisture from breath, urine and waste water – and remove contaminants from it through biological or chemical treatments. This water is then used to drink, for rehydrating food and for bathing. It probably sounds disgusting. But this water is far cleaner than a lot of the water that we drink on Earth!
6. A trip to the moon can be faster than a stagecoach between Liverpool and London!
Image source: PBS
If you took one of the faster stage coaches from Liverpool to London in 1754, and if there weren’t any accidents, you’d reach London in thee days traveling at eight miles an hour. The distance between London and Liverpool is 232 miles. The distance between the moon and the Earth is a hundred thousand times greater – 238,900 miles to be exact. And one of the few manned missions that we’ve launched to the moon was the famous mission carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They reached the moon in a mere 51 hours and 49 minutes. Of course they were faster than the stagecoach, traveling at a whopping 24,000 miles per hour and higher!
5. Aging slows down in space.
Image source: Nature Philosophie
Einstein once illustrated aging in space with his story of twins, one of whom goes to space and returns to find his other twin has aged and he’s a little younger. This is really what happens out there. Though our astronauts don’t go far and fast enough to come back to find many years have passed on Earth and they’re a little younger.
What happens is this: time dilation. Astronauts on the ISS (International Space Station) age more slowly because of the spacecraft’s high orbital speed relative to the orbit of the Earth. So when they return to Earth, they’re slightly – about a fraction of a second – younger than they would have been on Earth.
4. You can watch Netflix in space, but speeds are worse than dial-up!
Image source: NASA JPL
Yes, there is Internet in the International Space Station. It’s not an easy thing to set up, since you can’t get fiber optic cables up and we don’t yet have a WiFi that can be accessed from thousands of miles away! So getting WiFi in space has its challenges. Space stations use a combination of radio receivers – much like your phone with a data plan – and GPS satellites to get Internet. But the power of radiowaves drops with distance, so data speeds are slow.
The future of Internet in space might just be the new laser OPALS that are being tested. This could speed up the internet in space by 1000 times, and then astronauts could do more than just check their email, Tweet and call their family!
3. Pencils are a hazard in space!
Image source: Space Pen
Here’s one of the interesting things about traveling in space – you can’t use a pencil. A pencil can be a hazard. The wood in pencils is a fire hazard. The graphite could disturb the delicate electrical balance of space stations. Broken tips could float around dangerously.
So, NASA actually sends its astronauts into space with space pens. These pens are designed with compressed nitrogen to force ink out of the nozzle (on Earth, it’s gravity). And the pen doesn’t cost billions of dollars. Fisher sells it for $45 to $100 only! Now that’s a bit of space travel information I bet you didn’t know!
2. Spacewalkers carry an emergency rescue system on their backs
Image source: America Space
One of the interesting things about traveling in space, for us on Earth, is spacewalking. The last thing a spacewalker will want when she’s repairing a problem outside her space station is to have a tether tear. She’d just end up drifting away from the space station and into the endless void with no one to rescue her. To avoid such a nightmarish event, spacewalkers use a system called SAFER to keep them safe even if they lose contact with the spacecraft.
SAFER stands for Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (EVA is – extravehicular activities). It’s like a backpack that contains a small jet propulsion system. The space walker uses a hand controller to steer the propeller and maintain course. Thankfully, there hasn’t been a need to use it yet. Safety grips, tethers and robot arms have been enough to keep astronauts where they’re supposed to be during space walks!
1. Commercial space travel could come as early as 2018!
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Elon Musk’s SpaceX – and several other commercial space travel companies – are hard at work researching cheaper fuels and spacecraft designs to make commercial travel viable as early as 2020. In fact, the Falcon Heavy that was recently tested is going to be used to send two private citizens in orbit around the moon as early as 2018! It’s going to be a week-long adventure, in which the spacecraft buzzes low over the surface of the moon, and then use the moon’s gravity to fling itself back towards the Earth.
We hope fyou found this list of fascinating facts about space travel – well, fascinating! There is so much about space that we don’t know and don’t understand, that it’s possible to go on building fantasies about it. At least the interesting things about traveling in space on this list will clear up some of the fuzzy knowledge for you.
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