Living It Up!
There are certain moments that are etched in bold letters on the pages of history, events that proved mankind’s amazing ability to overcome the boundaries of what was thought possible, and setting the bar higher for future generations. On April 12, 1961, Russian pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left the Earth’s atmosphere, thus becoming the first person in space, opening the door for many others.
Since then, humans have been an integral part of many space missions, whether it’s landing on the Moon, or manning the space stations circling the Earth’s orbit, each new launch taking us one step closer to finally reaching the ultimate goal: living in space. We’ll focus on one aspect in particular, concerned with what effect living in space has on our bodies. Here are some interesting facts:
You will grow taller. Astronauts that spend more than 6 months aboard the International Space Station grow up to 3 %. taller. Without the force of gravity, human spine is free to expand, and while that might sound cool, you will probably experience backaches and nerve problems. The astronauts return to their previous height after few a months of being back on Earth.
Sleep disorders. Astrounauts have to strap themselves to their bunks, so they won’t float away and bump into things in their sleep. Also, the International Space Station is positioned in such a way that the crew experiences sunrise, or sunset, about 16 times a day. One additonal problem is the noise, as well. While the space is silent, the inside of the space station is anything but. The sound generated by motors, fans or filters can be distracting. But, it’s not all bad. Studies show, that zero gravity reduces the effect of some sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, or snoring.
Hygiene issues. It’s not all space walks and taking huge steps for mankind. While some space stations have been equipped with a shower, crew members use sponges and washcloths to reduce the amount of water consumed. Each astronaut is also equipped with their own hygiene kit, consisting of a toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, rinse-free shampoo and other basic toiletries.
Your body shape will change as well. On Earth, fluids in the human body are distibuted unevenly, with most fluids pooling in the lower extremities. In space, with no gravity, fluids start collecting in your upper body, your face becomes swollen and puffy, your torso expands, waist size decreases, as the internal organs shift upward inside the torso, and your legs become skinnier.
Space toilet. Another less than glamorous aspect of life in space is the use of a toilet, which is a bit more complicated. The first space toilets used a simple air mechanism which sucked the waste into a container. Air filtering systems had to be developed as well, seeing as it’s the same air the astronauts breathe. Any malfunction of those systems would make the space station very uncomfortable place to live. Nowadays, some space toilets are so advanced and sophisticated, they can recycle urin into drinking water.