On November 2, 2000, the International Space Station welcomed its first residents. Since then, humans have been living in the station.
For 20 years, the International Space Station has become an ideal “natural laboratory” to help people understand how society outside of the earth works. This international cooperation project jointly participated by 25 space agencies has received 241 staff and a small number of tourists from 19 countries. In other words, 43% of space “passengers” are received by the International Space Station.
Today, missions to the moon and Mars are also included in the plan. Therefore, we must understand how humans can live normally in remote, dangerous and enclosed environments when they cannot easily return home.
| A Brief History of Orbital Habitats |
The world’s first fictional space station was the “Brick Moon” in a short story by Edward Everett Hare in 1869, with 13 spherical living rooms inside.
In 1929, Herman Norden created a theoretical wheeled space station that relies on rotation to generate artificial gravity. In the 1950s, this wheeled concept was supported by rocket expert von Braun and appeared in the classic movie “2001 A Space Odyssey” in 1968.
However, the real space station is neither spherical nor wheel-shaped, but cylindrical.
In 1971, the Soviet Union’s “Salute 1” became the world’s first space station. In the following ten years, the “Salute” series launched six more space stations. In 1973, the United States launched its first space station “Sky Lab”. All these space stations are tubular structures.
1. Astronauts walk in the extravehicular space to replace the voltage stabilizer for the International Space Station. 2. Russian astronaut Oleg Kononenko in the “Star” service module 3. “Atlantis” space shuttle photographed on the International Space Station
The Peace, launched by the Soviet Union in 1986, was the first space station to adopt the design of “build the core part first, then add other cabins”. In 1998, when the first capsules of the International Space Station were launched into space, the Mir was still working in orbit. In 2001, the mission-end “Peace” crashed into the atmosphere, burned and disintegrated, and its residual fragments eventually fell to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean 5000 meters deep.
The International Space Station now includes 16 cabins, the internal space of which is equivalent to a five-bedroom house, with six regular staff members, and each mission lasts six months.
| Adapt to space |
In 1961, Yuri Gagarin’s flight around the earth proved that humans can survive in space. But in fact, long-term living in space is another matter.
Today’s space station does not provide gravity through rotation, and there is no upper or lower position inside the station. If you let go of an object, it will float away. Daily activities, such as drinking water and washing, need to be planned in advance. The “gravity points” used to fix people and objects are all over the space station, and their forms include handles, footholds, straps, clips, and Velcro.
In the Russian cabin, the side facing the earth (“downward”) is olive green, while the walls and the side facing away from the earth (“upward”) are beige. This helps staff determine direction.
Color is also important in other aspects. For example, in the color-scarce “Sky Lab”, astronauts have to appreciate the camera’s color calibration card to break the monotony in the station.
Space stations in movies are usually clean, tidy, and orderly, but this is very different from reality. In fact, the International Space Station smells unpleasant, noisy and messy, and there is dander everywhere, like a terrible shared room, but you can’t leave. In addition, you have to work all the time, no one can sleep well at night.
However, life in the station has a special benefit: the “Dome” observatory may provide humans with the best view at present-a 180-degree panoramic view of the dynamics of the earth.
| Micro-society in a mini-world |
A 1972 report mentioned that in this mini world in space, astronauts will use various objects to show their identities. Just like the refrigerator doors in various homes, the blank walls are covered with things of personal and team significance.
In the “Star” service module, photos of Orthodox icons, space heroes Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Yuri Gagarin and other space heroes created a sense of belonging and blood to the hometown. Feeling connected.
Food plays an important role in interpersonal relationships. Rituals such as sharing food, celebrating festivals and birthdays help to establish peer relationships among staff from different countries and cultural backgrounds.
However, not everything is smooth sailing. In 2009, when the local command center decided to ban Russian astronauts from using American toilets and sports equipment, toilets once became the source of international conflicts.
In this “micro-society”, technology is not only about instrument functions, but also plays a role in social cohesion.
| The future of space life |
The operating costs of the International Space Station are staggeringly expensive. The annual expenditure of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration alone is as high as 3 billion to 4 billion U.S. dollars, and many people think that the money is very worthless. Without more commercial investment, the International Space Station may end operations in 2028 and be sent to accompany the Mir under the sea.
In the next phase, the mission of the space station is likely to be in the lunar orbit. The lunar orbiting space station program led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States will be smaller in scale than the International Space Station, and the staff will have up to one month for each mission.
Based on the design of the International Space Station, the space capsule of the new space station is tentatively scheduled to launch within the next ten years. In the preliminary design of the new space station, the space for astronauts has been expanded, and the distance between sleeping areas, exercise areas, toilets and eating areas has become closer. Perhaps in the future, we can also suggest to reserve space for astronauts who like to improvise visual creations.
In the popular culture of some countries, the International Space Station can already be compared to Santa’s sleigh. In recent years, many parents will take their children outside on Christmas Eve to watch the International Space Station flying overhead.
The International Space Station has shaped the space culture of the 20th and 21st centuries and symbolized international cooperation after the Cold War. We can still learn a lot from it about how to live in space.