Monthly Archive: November 2014

THE ASTRONAUT DAILY SCHEDULE

After a short glance on my telemetry displays I can see indications, that the power outlet, which feeds the Columbus lights, draws some power: “COL-FLIGHT, STRATOS, Columbus lights are ON!”

The answer comes immediately: “Copy that, STRATOS, so the crew is awake!”

The astronauts are ready to kick off their day!

A standard crew day onboard ISS starts with around 1 hour of post-sleep time. Crew can have breakfast, prepare for the day and read the “Daily Summary”, a sort of newspaper, which we put together with the other control centers and which is used to provide the crew with the ISS big-picture status, comments to the daily plan, the Flight Control Teams roster, as well as a Q&A section and (sometimes) jokes and cartoons

It does not sound that different from the morning routine of any other human being preparing for work on planet Earth, does it?

The first official interaction with the Control Centers around the world is during the mDPC (“morning Daily Planning Conference”): Crew and the Flight Controllers tag-up on the daily operations, discuss deltas to the plan and address any crew question that might arise.

The termination of the mDPC marks the start of the actual work-day for the crew. 6.5 hours of their day will be divided between conducting experiments, installing new payloads, executing repairs and “housekeeping”!

In addition to the work time, 1 hour is always allocated for a midday meal, and 2.5 hours are strictly scheduled for physical exercise: crewmembers use a cycle ergometer (i.e. an exercise bike) for cardiovascular exercise, a treadmill for cardiovascular exercise – loading the skeletal system and maintaining the neuromuscular patterns for locomotion, and a Resistance Exercise Device for maintaining muscles and bones.

122A4677Once the daily activities are completed, it is time for the eDPC (“evening Daily Planning Conference”). This is “goodnight” time: interactions with the crew on the Space-to-Ground voice channels are interrupted to allow them some well-deserved rest time, we also switch off any camera inside the space station! Only in case of contingency scenarios the Ground Teams would make contact again.

After a round call to all control centers for any input, crew is off-duty: they can have dinner, check social media and watch TV or movies, or spend some “quality-time” sightseeing from Cupola.

Then it’s bed time: 8.5 hours of good sleep in micro-gravity

One last thing! A dedicated electronic tool is available to both Crew and Ground Teams, called OSTPV (“Onboard Short Term Plan Viewer”): it shows the so-called timeline, the schedule of the ISS and is divided in several bands for Crew and Ground, and each activity is represented by a “bar” It is driving the crew day – and it can drive astronauts crazy, as you can convince yourself …


Should you be interested in the current OSTPV: We give you a little bit of insight here.

Alessandro Rovera

Don't panic

29/11/2014

Welcome to our very own Milliways

“Yes sir”, said the waiter… “This is Milliways, the Restaurant at the end of the Universe.”

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is one of the most extraordinary ventures in the history of catering. It has been built on the fragmented remains of… it will be built on the fragmented… that is to say it will have been built by this time, and indeed has been … It is built on the fragmented remains of an eventually ruined planet which is (wioll haven be) enclosed in a vast time bubble and projected forward in time to the precise moment of the End of the Universe..

So far, things do sound a bit strange compared to restaurants on Earth. But in the meantime Zaphod, Trillian and Ford have arrived at theirtable…

A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox’s table… “Good evening” it lowed and sat back on heavily on its haunches “I am the main dish of the day (…) I’ve been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there’s a lot of good meat there.”

crew eatingWhat the characters in the Hitchhikers Guide of the Galaxy are experiencing in the book is not a common experience for earthlings: when we sit at our table at a restaurant the dish of the day certainly does not come to greet us!

It sounds impossible… but there is one thing that Douglas Adams and his talking dish got right: plenty of whole- grains and exercise is the key to staying healthy.

It is not science fiction and it is true for all Earthling’s such as Arthur Dent… and even Marvin!

Here at Outpost42 we believe that it does not take much to stay healthy, there are no complicated and obscure rules: what we need to understand is how the food we eat “talks” to our bodies.

And that is why we would like you to start this adventure with us.

So, what are you waiting for, get on board…or better yet get to the dining table! The Futura mission has just started and every week, together we will try to understand how to put the right fuel into our bodies to make them work at their best levels… just like the Soyuz!

Samantha Cristoforetti

Cover photo credits: ESA/NASA 

24/11/2014

The pink running shoes: daily life on ISS

This post was born as a response to a question sent in by Carla regarding how female astronauts deal with their menstrual cycle during long duration mission in space. There are no rules that require or, on the contrary, prohibit to suppress the menstrual cycle during a space mission. To tell you the truth not even mere recommendations exist: every astronaut decides freely according to their preference. It is of course a good idea to inform the flight surgeon about the decision; the latter must be familiar with all aspects of the astronaut’s health. Apart from this, it is a completely a personal choice. From what I have heard from my colleagues, I believe that often considerations of practicality make it preferable to choose for pharmacological suppression. It is not, however, any different from what is commonly practiced by many women: those who typically use the “classic” contraceptive pill is in fact already suppressing the menstrual cycle. The bleeding during the week of interruption (or placebo), are not a real period, but a so-called withdrawal bleeding. If you decide instead of having a regular menstrual cycle on board, it’s not a problem. There are stocks of sanitary products onboard and the “bother” is really a minor one: I would not want to change, for example, having to need to shave my face (and maybe even the head) each morning in weightlessness!

 Samantha Cristoforetti

The pink running shoes

20/11/2014

Pink shoes, yes. But the ones for astronauts

Shenanigans 2009, the 2009 class of astronauts I am part of consists of myself and five other European professionals from different countries. The ones who see our group photo, usually immediately notice one thing: that I’m the only woman. The case also wanted me to be the first Italian astronaut and this, invariably used by the media as a middle name, generates attention and curiosity. To be honest, being one of the subjects of the photo and not looking at it with the eyes of the public, do not pay much attention to this. Firstly, I would like to clarify something important: there’s really nothing exceptional with this. Many female astronauts have been in space and there is no specific activity nor task, part of this profession, that they could not carry out. No one expects me to prove anything. Secondly, I would like to make it clear that I am interested in other things. I’m an engineer, a military pilot, as well as an astronaut, there is nothing in my background that makes me an expert on gender issues. I do not have a trained eye to capture these aspects, nor the trained mind to reflect about it. In short, it is very unlikely that I have something clever and original to say about it! In any case the curiosity of those who look at the picture remains. Admittedly, I too,  as a young girl, seeing the photos and reading the stories of those who went into space, was particularly fascinated by female astronauts. Maybe because they were a minority, maybe because they were more like me. If I had met them, I think I too would have had some specific questions that I would not have asked their male colleagues. “Pink shoes” (as a section) is dedicated to these questions. To make room for the legitimate curiosity, without “getting out of the photo”.  

The pink running shoes

18/11/2014

53 other things to do in zero gravity

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as it is known, is the most successful book ever published by the publishing houses of Ursa Minor. A worthy competitor is 53 other things to do in zero gravity. Of the latter work, however, neither the author nor the content are known. At least they were not known until today.

A group of researchers from Outpost 42, in collaboration with the Antiques Academy of the Near and Remote Future argue, in fact, that they have found excerpts of the original 53 Other Things to do in zero gravity. What makes the originality of this discovery very questionable is that the name of the authors appear next to each sentence. Rather suspicious names: take a look at the section of Outpost 42 crew.

In any case, here are the 23 fragments that were discovered.

Samantha Cristoforetti

Never put your feet on the ground.

Never ask yourself: what shoes should I wear today?

Play around with a strawberry trying to catch it with your mouth without fear of dropping it on the floor.

Enjoy feeling the skin under your feet as soft as the skin of a baby

Move around just by breathing

Storing things in the highest cabinet without the help of a stick to reach it.

Never worry about using a hammer and nails: just a little velcro will do fine!

See who travels furthest without touching the walls (if you touch the air-flow sensors on Russians hatches you are disqualified!)

Never make your bed in the morning.

Rotate your home so that friends can easily find the entrance.

Use a bicycle without a saddle.

Throw the scales away: they always show zero!

Hold things with your legs while you walk with your hands.

Antonio Pilello

Practice yoga upside-down.

Swim without water.

Eat a lot without gaining weight.

Chiara Forin

Read a book in bed without holding it up

Wear a Superman costume on Halloween (even if Luca Parmitano already did this)

Cook without fear of making the floor dirty … nothing falls on the ground!

Stefano Polato

Break an egg and separate the egg white from the yolk

Stefano Sandrelli

Spend life with you head above the clouds and feel it is OK

Freefall and laugh about it.

Be heavy and fly all the same.

Stefano Sandrelli

Don't panic

17/11/2014

Samantha Cristoforetti

Born in Milan but grown up in Malé (Trento), Samantha Cristoforetti is one of the six astronauts of the ESA 2009 selection, the Shenanigans. Pilot of the Italian AirForce Samantha is going to be parte of the Expedtion 42/43 to the International Space Station; she was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009  and in  July 2012 she was assigned to an Italian Space Agency ASI mission, called Futura. The date for the launch of Futura is set: Samantha is going to leave for space on Sunday the 23rd at 22:01 GMT from the Bajkonur cosmodrome.  Read more

The team

13/11/2014