Topic: In space, at sea: tips on isolation from the pros
With billions of people around the world suddenly adjusting to social distancing measures as part of the battle to slow the spread of COVID-19, some professionals who are used to confinement have some tips. From astronauts to submariners, here are some practical ways to boost your well-being and stave off cabin fever during those weeks stuck at home.
Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut, spent nearly a year aboard the International Space Station. He told AFP that mindset was crucial. “People need to have the right expectation, we don’t know when this is gonna be over,” he said. “We could be in this for the long haul so your mindset needs to be: I’m living a similar thing to living in space for a year, I need to have a schedule, I need to get up at a regular time, to go to sleep at a regular time.” He also said exercise was key for both physical and mental well-being while confined. “You need to schedule time for exercise. If you cannot get out if you don’t have a garden, raise the window shade, open the window and stick your head outside, make that part of daily routine.”
For Vincent Larnaudie-Eiffel, a former commander of a nuclear submarine, working well in confinement means finding and investing in your own personal “mission.” Just like on board the sub, “stuck in our apartments, we all share a mission and that is to protect others, medical workers, and successfully navigate this ordeal.” He said it was important to establish a daily routine and stick to it. “You can’t give in... you need to do something with this suspended time.” For Larnaudie-Eiffel and his crewmates, this involved building models or growing plants under artificial light during their spare time. “It’s also important that everyone has their own space,” he told AFP. “In a submarine it might be a cramped bed-space. It’s the same in a cramped apartment.”
Sailor Isabelle Autissier was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe alone. This involved a lot of time to herself. But she said she never felt lonely because “I chose to be alone.” For people stuck at home she recommends using the time “to try new things, reading, listening to different music, write your journal, take photos, start drawing.” Above all it’s important that people don’t look too far ahead. When she was at sea, facing an indeterminate amount of time alone “the first thing is not to count the days,” said Autissier. “You can’t constantly be thinking I’ll get there in three months, in a month, in 10 minutes.”
Cyprien Verseux, an astrobiologist at Germany’s University of Bremen, once spent over a year in a small pod with five other volunteers simulating conditions in a future mission to Mars. “It’s normal for your morale and productivity to dip,” he said. “That’s not a sign of weakness. Don’t add guilt to your problems.” When in confinement for the experiment, Verseux wasn’t allowed outside and was forbidden from communicating in real time with the outside world. “Even if we don’t all react the same to confinement we can adopt good practise that makes these periods more manageable,” he said.
He recommends choosing one or two activities and practising hard. “Also do your sport, light weights, do yoga, zumba... even if there’s a lack of space there are solutions to stay in shape,” he said.
In 2009, astronaut Frank de Winne became the first European to command the International Space Station. He said it was vital to maintain human contact, even if only electronically. “Means of communication are there, you have to make the effort and use them,” he said. The Belgian, now in quarantine on Earth, makes sure to video call his elderly mother at the same time each day. “That allows her to see me. It also creates a bit of structure for her because she knows that I’m going to call her,” he said.
Topic: NASA and Tide team up to do laundry in space
Tide is going to outer space. The Procter & Gamble brand is partnering with NASA to keep astronauts’ spacesuits fresh, even on Mars.
Company and NASA scientists have created a fully degradable detergent that will clean clothes without wasting water.
Over the next decade, they’ll be testing fabric care products, including Tide pens and wipes, at the International Space Station and on missions to the moon and Mars.
The months or even years that astronauts spend away from Earth means that their spacesuits and clothes can become smelly and stained. Clothes have to be reworn several times before they are ejected with other waste into the atmosphere or sent back to Earth as trash. A crew member will receive 160 pounds of clothes per year through resupply shipments.
He said it will be a reusable space complex, noting that it will be possible to use its first stage at least 100 times.
"Of course we are looking at what our American colleagues are doing," said Rogozin. "But our engineers are trying to take a shortcut － not to repeat what our SpaceX colleagues are doing but surpass them."
But the fiery fate of a booster rocket, wherever it comes down, speaks to the larger issue of space debris and space sustainability, especially as space becomes a target not just for national space programs but also increasingly the private sector. Under international treaty, private space actors, who are expected to put 45,000 satellites in low Earth orbit over the next several years, are under the legal responsibility of their host nations.
Add to that an estimated 9,300 tonnes of space junk that is already orbiting the planet and the probability of space collisions and debris pollution is an issue of concern.
Previously, a piece of paint the size of a fingernail struck the windscreen of a space shuttle, piercing two of three layers of glass.
The fate of Long March 5B could refocus governments and international bodies on the issue of space sustainability, and that could provide more opportunity to firms like UK-based Astroscale that are preparing to tackle the debris problem with commercial junk-collecting services.
Astroscale is currently demonstrating a vehicle called “ELSA-d” in lower Earth orbit to show that space debris clean-up is indeed possible. It is a fiendishly difficult task, especially if the target satellite is spinning and tumbling. The test is using a satellite to capture a test drone with a magnet. In time, larger objects will require a robotic arm.