The danger of “normal” Christmas activities in the room

The danger of “normal” Christmas activities in the room

Champagne

By Harriet Constable

Undefeated by your unconventional looking wood, you remain determined to stay in a festive mood. Your next thought, of course, is: “I could really go for a glass of bubbles right now.”

Well first of all – no. You can not have one. Astronauts are generally prohibited from drinking alcohol while in space. Shame on you for thinking about it at all.

But again, you’ve just been teleported here and have no astronaut assignments. Or what if you chose a non-alcoholic alternative to champagne? Like lemonade. A glass of lemonade would definitely be OK?

Well, that’s bad news again folks, because according to Nasa, bubbles are not doing well in space. “A frothy mess” – that’s how they describe the attempt to drink carbonated beverages, from champagne to cola, while the station runs around the Earth. “The carbon dioxide bubbles in carbonated beverages are not liquid in a weightless environment, so they remain randomly distributed in the liquid, even after ingestion,” says Nasa. The whole thing is actually quite uncomfortable, especially considering that with the absence of gravity, the carbon dioxide bubbles in the drinks go through the digestive system instead of being burped out like on Earth.

Even if you were allowed a glass of champagne, there is the whole question of actually getting it out of the bottle because, as Wired reports, “you can not pour a liquid in zero-g”. One possibility is to drink it through a straw, but as I write this, I think Dom Pérignon, a French monk who helped pave the way for sparkling champagne to become mainstream, just toppled into his grave.

That may not always be the case. Companies are at work to get the issue of bubble-in-the-room in while we talk – with solutions, including dual-chamber bottles. But for now, you will have to return to your weightless hike without a festive glass of soda.

Presents

By Richard Gray

Most of us probably know someone whose gifts look like they could have been wrapped while in circulation. Without the tethering of gravity, everything except the tighter wrapping paper will bubble informally around the inside of today, while lengths of sticky tape will collapse into an unruly tangle once ripped off the roll.

Nasa has some strict rules about how many personal belongings astronauts are allowed to take into space. Crews are usually limited to only 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg) of personal sets when traveling to the ISS, but they are sometimes given additional items in re-supply missions.

However, it is expensive to launch something in circulation – until recently it cost around 18,500 USD (13,900 GBP) per. kg (and when the shuttle was in operation, the price was 54,500 USD). [£41,000] per kg). Recently, Nasa has been able to use commercial spacecraft such as Space X’s Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule, which make it possible to launch objects at a cost of $ 23,330 (£ 17,500) per year. kg, but the amount of space for gifts among the research experiments and hardware sent to the ISS is small. Nevertheless, Nasa is trying to squeeze in a special delivery shortly before Christmas.

“Many times it has to be something small,” Hopkins says. “So it’s just going to be a card, something of that nature. But people here on earth, support staff, are also doing a great job of reaching out to your family members and trying to find ways to get some special things up for you for the holidays. “

But in your random teleportation, you and all your festive gear managed to get to the station with little or no budget at all. So how will your wrapping go?

Surprisingly, there is not much research into the mechanics of gift wrapping in microgravity. (Although Nasa engineers use origami techniques when designing the foldable solar panels and shields on spacecraft.) Nasa prefers plastic bags and white cloth bags for all the goods it transports to and from the ISS.

Although the natural stiffness of the paper may mean that it remains in shape when folded, without gravity holding the gift and the paper together in the early stages of wrapping, there may be an additional degree of difficulty. If it’s something to go by what happens to a cloth when it’s curled up on the space station, folded paper will not behave exactly as it does on Earth either.

Sticky tape – which is widely used on the space station to hold things down, perform quick fixes and even close air leaks – also floats around, as in this video with Nasa flight engineer Cady Coleman, and curls strangely without gravity. Until recently, ISS crews usually held their rolls of tape in place by gluing them to surfaces inside the space station. In 2021, however, they received a new tape dispenser specifically designed for use on the ISS, which can be used with one hand and would no doubt make it easier to wrap gifts.

Fortunately, according to some studies, a poorly packaged gift is not something to worry about – it can actually make the recipient even more grateful for what is inside.

Fried dinners

By Isabelle Gerretsen

After all your hard work with the tree and strangely shaped gifts that are now wrapped around its base, you have built up a big appetite. But if past Christmases on the ISS are something to go by, a traditional dinner is unlikely to resemble anything you are used to on Earth.

Extensive dinners in space are, to say the least, a bit of a challenge, but that does not stop astronauts from celebrating during special holidays. Hopkins has spent two Christmases on the ISS, saying both times that the food was “excellent”.

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