You might have heard of Lee So-yeon (28), the very first Korean woman to go to space. She will leave Earth for space on April eighth on the Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. She will come back to Korea after spending seven or eight days doing experiments in space science.
The ISS is managed by 16 countries including the U.S.A., Russia, Canada, Japan, Brazil and 11 countries belonging to the Europe Space Agency. Because of this variety, it is called the ‘International Space Station.’ It is a huge structure built in the Earth’s orbit, as a place where astronauts can live, conducting necessary missions for the development of space exploration, including space observation. It is also used to study people’s logs of their stay, and it is an advance base for space development. Through the work done on the station, further space exploration can become possible. Moreover, as the ISS extends and space travel becomes popular, we can expect the development of a space hotel. Korean researchers have planned to undertake this project as Korean space science has been growing rapidly.
Experiments in Space
Lee So-yeon has to conduct thirteen basic scientific experiments and five educational experiments. First, she will conduct gravity reaction and aging gene experiments using drosophila. The genes of drosophila correspond to about 74 percent of that of humans and thus drosophila is a suitable animal for experiments instead of humans. Through this, astronauts will try to prepare for the long periods of space visits and make anti-aging plans during space travel. Also, in these studies, they will observe the Korean peninsula’s natural phenomena such as yellow sand, formation of clouds and air pollution and conduct a weather survey. Furthermore, the invention of space food using high-tech processes of food technology and changes in the astronaut’s body will be included. They also will compare surface tension, the phenomena of water, rotary motion and growth of plants in space to that occurring on the Earth.
The Life of an Astronaut
How can we wash our body on a spaceship? Water is much more valuable than gold in space. Anousheh Ansari, the first woman space tourist in the world, said that “When I washed my hair, I made water drops on my head and cleaned it carefully with a towel to prevent scattering them.” Most of the water used on International Space Station (ISS) is recycled. Single water drops and even sweat are used after absorbing and refining them.
Without a space suit, an astronaut can’t live in space. Our body is designed to live in an environment under atmospheric pressure. Therefore, a space suit is made to press the body with atmospheric pressure. In addition, there is no thermal conduction because of the lack of air. The side of the suit which gets a lot of sunshine is very hot, but the other side without sunshine is too cold. For these reasons, insulating material is used to make a space suit. But there is another problem. Since the astronaut wears insulating material, their body temperature is trapped. As such, the astronaut must wear underwear containing a cooling device. Furthermore, space suits are made of teflon and other special materials to protect the astronaut from debris floating through space and radiation. Finally, an oxygen bottle, battery and communication equipment are added to a space suit.
As with washing, astronauts have to eat meals elegantly. Food will hang in the air if you open your mouth and talk to others during mealtimes. No powdered ingredients can be used in space food because minute particles cause accidents as they spread out into the air. The Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi said, “My peers liked curry instant noodles. My heart was full when I ate instant noodles in space.” He is the first man who ate instant noodles on the ISS after he flew on Discovery, an American space shuttle. The space instant noodles were invented by Nissei food which made the original cup noodle. By pouring water into a bag of vacuum-packed instant noodles and waiting five minutes, you can eat it easily.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute has been given permission to include ten kinds of Korean traditional food such as kimchi, boiled rice, bean-paste soup and Korean hot pepper paste from the IBMP (Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences). The Korean astronaut will go to space with four kilograms of Korean food. Korean space food was invented to keep its delicious appearance and taste and to withstand the conditions of weightlessness. Up until now, most space food was from Russia or the U.S.A.. Recently space food has been changing. Korea is trying to make more space food.
Finally, after eating, it isn’t pleasant to “do one’s business” in space. An astronaut has to put on a big diaper before leaving the Earth. Until you arrive at the ISS, you have to depend on your diaper. To reduce the amount of excretion, the astronaut must administer an enema. On the ISS, the toilet is a ‘waste collection system’. It is a kind of vacuum cleaner. Urine is thrown away outside of the spaceship and stools are handled back on Earth after removing water from them.
Interesting Facts about Living in Space
The magazine Discovery introduced ‘Secrets of space you didn’t know’ in an online article. The followings excerpts are some parts of it:
-The height of an astronaut increases by about five centimeters. That’s because as gravity lowers, the pressure on the backbone lowers, too.
- People who snore on Earth sleep quietly in space.
- However, astronauts can’t sleep well because their biorhythm is damaged in an environment of 16 hours of sunrise.
-In space, liquid flows upwards. The nose becomes stuffy and the face is swollen. Muscles are weakened and the heart becomes stiff and smaller.
-Almost every astronaut feels nausea and headaches. In addition, it is difficult to recognize the positions of legs and arms.
- After coming back to Earth, astronauts have a hard time moving their arms and legs. They call landing “the second birth.”
-The hardest thing for an astronaut who has spent a long period of time in space occurs when they try to put down an object. Surprisingly, the object falls down.
Before long, space travel will be accessible to everyone. As private space tour companies are being created in the U.S.A. and the U.K., cheaper packages are coming out at twenty thousand U.S. dollars. These space tours will begin next year and the number of subscribers is already 2,000. How about preparing for a space tour by visiting ‘Space World’ in Fukuoka, Japan or the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C, U.S.A.?