189

Clothes require laundry because they have accumulated dirt and other materials from the environment and their wearer. If the astronaut was not wearing those clothes then that material they captured would be released to the environment. In the space station it is a closed environment where such dirt and material would contribute to the accumulated hazards. ...


83

Clothing performs essential duties on the station in addition to modesty. They are an easy way to organize stuff. In addition to pockets, clothing is festooned with velcro strips for attaching tools, pens etc. NASA is working on methods for washing clothes in space. Not surprisingly, they've studied the tradeoffs between including a washing machine in the ...


47

Methods of cleaning Current washing technologies are mostly solvent based. Most normal "soiling" of clothing is a mixture of oils and salts (Both of which are products of sweat), and sloughed skin cells, often bound by those same oils. When one finds clothing irritable from extended wear, it's usually due to the effects of accumulated sweat and skin cells, ...


24

In addition to capture of contaminants, such as dead skin, hair, sweat, etc, and abrasion/cut protection, clothing forms a basic thermal layer that allows the human body to better regulate its internal temperature and perceived comfort level. Every human has variations in temperature, and even in a perfectly controlled environment once you place two humans ...


21

I decided to search through NTRS and found this: http://hdl.handle.net/2060/20130012684 Waterless Clothes-Cleaning Machine This machine can be used wherever water is at a premium, or to minimize washing with water. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A waterless clothes-cleaning machine has been developed that removes loose particulates and ...


16

In addition to what John provided, it's also worth noting that given the scale of tens of thousands of years, the stars will actually move. This is clearly shown in a Wikipedia article. As can be show, Alpha Centauri will only be 3 Light Years away in about 30,000 years. Okay, so the fastest mission I've heard of using nearly obtainable technology is the ...


16

The test had to start somewhere. There are a number of reasons why they couldn't simply do a 6 person stay, that make it somewhat difficult at least. These include: There is a natural cycle to bring down astronauts from the ISS, in that a Soyuz needs to be replaced every 6 months. While in theory a crew could bring a Soyuz, and bring the old one down, that ...


14

"Artificial" gravity is the name given to techniques to create acceleration that mimics gravitational force. There are two major ways to do this -- both of which are very feasible: Rotation -- in this case, the acceleration is created by centripetal force. The rotating structure accelerates the crew by forcing them to follow a curved (usually circular) ...


14

According to ABC News, yes: But now, as American astronauts spend more and more time in space, they've noticed they're returning to Earth with a surprising malady: They cannot focus their eyes properly after they come home, and for some the problem seems permanent. ... A fifth of the astronauts tested showed a flattening of the rear of the ...


14

Money. Over how many administrations, regimes, revolutions, wars, etc. will a 100-year spacecraft operations need to be funded? If you expect to get data back, you will need to keep antennas and/or photon buckets (for laser comm) pointed at the thing, and you have to maintain and likely replace those assets over time. You are unlikely to design something ...


14

A picture might be worth a thousand words. Just imagine this situation without clothes:


12

NASA have an intensive rehabilitation program. Body fluid including blood moves from the legs to the head and upper body The total amount of blood in the body decreases And from space.com, Bone density lessens at a rate of 1 percent a month Muscle mass shrinks Eyeball pressure changes, with roughly one-fifth of astronauts reporting vision issues The ...


12

There are probably a bunch of problems, but lets start with some easy ones: Thermal cycling Each side of the vehicle will differ in temperature a great deal, since one side will be in sunlight, the other in shade. You can do a rotisserie roll, as Apollo did on the way to the moon, but that makes maintaining lock on earth with an antenna harder. Regardless,...


12

This is a very important subject. Recommended reading: Nick Kanas, Dietrich Manzey. Space Psychology and Psychiatry. Springer, 2008. To quote (pp.193-194): From the very beginning of long-duration space flight, the provision of psychological in-flight support to crewmembers has been an important counter- measure in Russia [Grigoriev et al., 1987; ...


11

Good question, and this is not really an answer to your question I know, but it's too long for a comment. My reaction to reading it was (perhaps strangely) to wonder about even the necessity of clothes in space. It seems to me that on Earth, we wear clothes for a number of reasons (some practical, others more cultural and traditional than any purely ...


10

New Horizons has been designed for a lifetime of 20-25 years. New Horizons is powered by an RTG. Over time, this will lose power as the plutonium decays. Around 2030 (PDF on New Horizons design), the RTG will no longer supply sufficient power to cover the spacecraft's needs even in its lowest-power cruise mode. For probes to the outer solar system, the power ...


9

We have the much of the technology needed, but not the engineering and patience. Sending a Voyager-like probe to Alpha-Centauri would take many, many, many years. Around 50,000 years given a 25 km/sec speed (that's a good deal faster than Voyager is going). Because of the time-frame, we'd need to engineer something that could last that long. Several of the ...


8

Power System duration Mechanical wear thermal cycling impact damage operational vibration friction wear radiation damage Material choices Power System Duration There is no more fundamental need on a spacecraft than a source of power. Except for some of the earliest satellites, spacecraft are fundamentally electronic systems. While the radio-thermal ...


8

We don't know exactly what kind of shape it will be in. There are a few similar objects that have been returned, however, that we can get at least an idea of what it might look like. Let's look at the comparisons: Surveyor 3- Landed on the Moon, was visited (Ironically) by the crew of Apollo 12. A report was done on the damage to this craft. 2 years on moon....


7

One of the longest lasting (tiny) self-sustaining ecosystems is the Ecosphere. You can't eat it, but it's completely sealed and lasts for about two years, but can be as long as seven. It contains tiny shrimp, algae, some bacteria, and seawater. You need to keep it at about room temperature in indirect sunlight, but other than those requirements you could ...


6

Mark Adler makes a good case for this being a matter of financing, but like always, there's two sides to the coin. If we put it in analogy, if we built a jukebox that could play for a hundred years, we'd also need someone to keep feeding it dimes. If it was really as durable, you'd get as much music out of it, as you'd throw money in it. But you also get one ...


6

Shuttle mission length was limited by lots of consumables, including propellant and canisters for the life support system. The Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS) could provide electrical power to the Shuttle, but it only allowed the shuttle to remain docked for an extra 4 days. Only Discovery and Endeavour were equipped with the SSPTS. ...


5

Allow me to give the obvious answer of spirulina. Here's a NASA report from 1988 on the subject of growing food during space missions. I don't know if it's particularly different from any other NASA report on the subject: http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19890016190 The abstract is unhelpful, but the entire introduction is highly relevant to your question,...


5

It's likely that a Mars mission will take a total of 32 months, not 18; the launch window for a fuel-efficient return journey requires a wait of over a year after arrival. Humans need 2-4 liters of water per day. Assume a crew of 5; that works out to about 10-20 tons of water if you don't recycle it. That's a significant chunk of the overall mass ...


5

In addition to Geoffc's answer, let me give a few others. Batteries- These eventually wear out. This is a bit deal for LEO missions, not as much for other missions. Mechanical failure- Reaction wheels are the most common, you just can't keep things spinning forever.


5

Assuming a sufficient budget, a spin-habitat is a highly viable option. To maintain 1G and an acceptable ≤2 RPM rotation, one needs a radius of 223m or so. Given human needs, a torus of 5m habitat tube at 223m median radius, with a pair of 1mm steel hull shells, is a mass of about 55 cubic meters of steel or about 300 metric tons, just for a fairly thin ...


5

There are a number of potential health risks humans face in outer space, though probably the two most important are: microgravity and cosmic radiation. Microgravity: Even if the ultimate destination of a long space flight is somewhere with reasonable gravity (IE: Mars), the humans on board a long-distance space flight would still experience very low gravity ...


5

It has been attempted, but is very difficult. The ISEE-3 mission was put into a hibernation mode where it made a close Earth approach last year. When that close approach happened, it was determined that the spacecraft's thruster did not work, which resulted in a failure to anticipate. More practically, such missions are not usually attempted because ...


5

The spacecraft farthest away from Earth is Voyager 1. But that's not necessarily the longest distance traveled. If you accept the distance traveled while in orbit, a spacecraft can rack up a lot of miles while staying close to Earth. Let's try this for Helios I: launched in 1974, so 42 years ago. 367.920 hours, 1.324 *109 seconds, at 45 km/s this is 59 *...


5

Mark Kelly, told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" by email, Scott Kelly's life, height return to normal after near year in space, that his brother is back to his normal height. Astronaut Scott Kelly, who grew about 2 inches during his nearly one year stay on the International Space Station, is back to his normal height, his identical twin brother, Mark, said ...


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