The International Space Station is a spacecraft that orbits around Earth and serves as a home for astronauts and cosmonauts. In November 1998, the first piece of the ISS was launched, the station hosted astronauts from many countries. Now the spacecraft is running out of space for astronauts.
Today SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will launch Crew-2 of NASA up to the International Space Station. When the crew reaches the ISS, there won’t be any bed available for them to sleep. Of the four members of Crew-2, two will have to sleep inside SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule.
Nasa’s Crew-2 will spend the next six months in the space station. Four astronauts who arrived at the station will head back to Earth in the coming week. During this period, two crew members will have no bed to sleep on the station.
Space station adjustments
Figuring out a sleeping arrangement on the spacecraft isn’t something new for astronauts. Earlier space shuttle missions also brought similar situations of more astronauts and fewer beds. Back in 2009, the spacecraft hosted upto 13 space travellers and created a new record.
Finding a temporary sleeping arrangement is not an issue for astronauts. Since space doesn’t have any gravity and astronauts float in the station, they can just roll out a sleeping bag pretty much anywhere. The two Crew-2 members who need space will inform flight controllers and pick out spots on the station.
“Sleeping in space was absolutely the best sleep I’ve ever had in my entire life. I always slept on the ceiling because where else can you sleep on your ceiling? You float into that bag and you find your position, and I would not wake up until the alarm went off.” said Nicole Stott, retired NASA astronaut to NPR.
In recent years, the station acted as a home for only half a dozen people, half its capacity. Now growing space travelers means packed space and daily exercises that each astronaut needs to do to prevent muscle and bone loss in orbit need more attention. Bathrooms are enough in number for the astronauts with three space commodes.
NASA depends on SpaceX and Boeing to launch astronauts at the station. Growing launches means more astronauts and the need to figure out problems like sleeping arrangements and bathroom issues becomes important.
Amy Foster, a space historian at the University of Central Florida mentioned that temporary cramped quarters can help the space station to solve space issues. The growing number of space travellers means the need for sustained space infrastructure is coming.