When it comes to space exploration, there have been hundreds of interesting discoveries that shed light on the way planets, stars and other celestial bodies react to one another. A great deal of varied advancements in technology has elevated the accuracy of astronauts. In this article, you will learn about some interesting space-related facts and trivia.
The Importance of Thrust
In order to lift a vehicle (like an aircraft or rocket) off of the ground, it needs force called thrust. There are many different stages to the travel of a rocket. Each stage offers a proportion of the thrust needed to carry a satellite, space shuttle, or other vehicle sent into space or in orbit.
To date, only Earth and the Moon have experienced the footsteps of humans. While space exploration without the help of a shuttle hasn’t taken place anywhere else, unmanned spacecraft have taken images, conducted scientific readings, and gathered data from the other planets in the Solar System. Sometimes, the unmanned spacecraft actually lands on the planet, while other times, it just flies on by.
Going to the Bathroom in Space
Since early space flights were short, spacecraft was not equipped with all of the comforts that an astronaut may have liked. For example, when an astronaut needed to use the bathroom, there was no toilet on early spacecraft. Alan Shepard found out the hard way when he waited four hours on the Launchpad before he was given permission to relieve himself in his spacesuit. Future missions benefitted from advancements in technology. For example, the toilet in the International Space Station was specially made to operate in zero gravity conditions.
The First Bathroom Solution
Luckily, astronauts aren’t subjected to the first solutions for going to the bathroom, which was to wear diapers during longer missions. The diapers kept everything in place, as zero gravity caused liquids and solids to float around the cabin. The astronauts of the Apollo Moon missions were subjected to plastic bags called ‘Apollo bags,’ which were held in place with sticky tape.
Following the installation of the first space toilets in a space shuttle, the Waste Collection System was first utilized in 1993 during the STS-54 shuttle mission. The system looked like a regular toilet, but came equipped with foot restraints. Velcro straps and handholds helped prevent astronauts from floating around as they went to the bathroom. A suction system with a fan along with anti-bacteria filters kept odors at bay. Solid waste was collected in plastic bags that were stored and returned to Earth. These bags were removable. Liquid waste was stored, recycled, or vented into space using what was called a ‘water dump.’ The intensely cold conditions of outside the space shuttle caused the liquid to instantly form into a cloud of ice crystals. Interestingly, these formations reflect light and can actually be seen from Earth.