The astronaut who almost drowned in space

Did you know that one of the astronauts on the International Space Station almost drowned during a spacewalk a few weeks ago?Luca-smiling-ESA

Really. This has been circulating around the Internet, and NASA has been giving the impression that it was no big deal. But Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano had a post a couple of weeks ago on a malfunction in his space suit that resulted in water floating in his helmet around his head.

And when you’re in space, that means you’re in a hell of a lot of trouble. Here’s a small portion of his post from his blog on the European Space Agency Web site:

As I move back along my route towards the airlock, I become more and more certain that the water is increasing. I feel it covering the sponge on my earphones and I wonder whether I’ll lose audio contact. The water has also almost completely covered the front of my visor, sticking to it and obscuring my vision. I realise that to get over one of the antennae on my route I will have to move my body into a vertical position, also in order for my safety cable to rewind normally. At that moment, as I turn ‘upside-down’, two things happen: the Sun sets, and my ability to see – already compromised by the water – completely vanishes, making my eyes useless; but worse than that, the water covers my nose – a really awful sensation that I make worse by my vain attempts to move the water by shaking my head. By now, the upper part of the helmet is full of water and I can’t even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid. To make matters worse, I realise that I can’t even understand which direction I should head in to get back to the airlock. I can’t see more than a few centimetres in front of me, not even enough to make out the handles we use to move around the Station.

You’ve got to read the whole thing to see how close this guy was to drowning in an infinite ocean of emptiness.

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‘Space Oddity’ in space

We haven’t been in space for a while:

That’s Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and that’s really in the international space station a few months ago.

White House nixes Death Star

The second Death Star under construction in Re...

The second Death Star under construction in Return of the Jedi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bunch of people petitioned the White House to build a Death Star.

As in Galactic Empire, blow-up-Alderaan Death Star.

When the White House receives a certain number of signatures on a petition, it responds.

So, here goes:

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

That’s a pretty good answer. And this is why building one is a waste of money:

(Remember, the rebels didn’t just destroy one. They destroyed two.)

A few orbits around the globe

 

Time to leave the planet. I’ll be back in a few minutes:

That’s from the International Space Station. Despite the end of the manned U.S. space program, there are still people orbiting the planet. Three from Russia, two from the U.S. and one from Japan.

There’s a woman on the ISS, American Sunita Williams, who knows a little something about space travel.

She holds the record of the longest space flight (195 days) among female space travelers. Williams also holds two other records for women space travelers: most number of spacewalks (four as of 15 July 2012), and total time spent on spacewalks (29 hours and 17 minutes).

 

Get this job and see the world

Here’s a nice little job opening. If I were just 25 years younger:

Job Title:Astronaut Candidate

Department:National Aeronautics & Space Administration

Agency:Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

Job Announcement Number:JS12A0001

SALARY RANGE:

$64,724.00 to $141,715.00 / Per Year

OPEN PERIOD:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 to Friday, January 27, 2012

SERIES & GRADE:

GS-0801-11/14

POSITION INFORMATION:

Full Time – Permanent

PROMOTION POTENTIAL:

15

DUTY LOCATIONS:

Few vacancy(s) in the following locations:
Houston, TXView Map

WHO MAY BE CONSIDERED:

This announcement is open to all qualified U.S. citizens.

JOB SUMMARY:

NASA, the world’s leader in space and aeronautics is always seeking outstanding scientists, engineers, and other talented professionals to carry forward the great discovery process that its mission demands. Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind. That’s what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for Astronaut Candidates to support the International Space Station (ISS) Program and future deep space exploration activities.

KEY REQUIREMENTS

  • Position subject to pre-employment background investigation
  • This is drug-testing designated position
  • Frequent travel may be required
  • Selectee must pass a pre-employment medical examination

For more details, click on this link at USA Jobs.

(Via TPM)