Screaming ‘fire!’ in a crowded Russian space capsule is useless

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, left, and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov work through artificial fire aboard a Soyuz simulator.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, left, and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov work through artificial fire aboard a Soyuz simulator.

A first-class flight in a Soyuz space capsule is rocky, reliable and rather snug. An astronaut sits in a semi-fetal position, works the controls with a stick and feels a pretty heavy G load, especially on reentry.

So imagine if a fire breaks out on the Soyuz spacecraft. There’s no extinguisher, no exit and no help to call.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen narrated a video showing he and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov going through a simulated fire on a capsule to train for an upcoming flight to the International Space Station.

This toilet demo shows how astronauts boldly go in space

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took time out from her work aboard the International Space Station to explain how astronauts go to the bathroom in zero gravity. Photo: ESA/YouTube
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took time out from her work aboard the International Space Station to explain how astronauts go to the bathroom in zero gravity. Photo: ESA/YouTube

We have a reinvigorated interest in the mysteries of space. Astronaut Scott Kelly is just beginning a record-breaking stint in zero gravity, a space probe is about to fly by Pluto and manned missions to an asteroid and Mars are in the pipeline.

There is also the ongoing science on how to go to the bathroom in space, where things tend to float.

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti explained that mystery over the weekend, when she took time from her work on the International Space Station to give a video tour of the bathroom (see below) and delicately describe going Numbers 1 and 2 in zero gravity.

Apollo mission patches put stars in the eyes of a family

By

The Apollo 11 mission patch. Photo: NASA/Neil F. Smith/YouTube
The Apollo 11 mission patch. Photo: NASA/Neil F. Smith/YouTube

I had the kind of dad who brought his work home with him. That was exciting since he was in the business of putting men on the moon.

Each time there was a scheduled launch, my two brothers and I could always expect our dad to come home with mission patches. Robert Pierini was an engineer in the late 1960s and early ’70s with an electronics company in Milwaukee that developed the guidance system for the Apollo mission.

So when filmmaker Neil F. Smith recently posted a video to YouTube, bringing animated life to each mission emblem, I immediately felt the same rush I had as a kid when I held a patch in my hand.

NASA’s new Mars mission technology looks like a flying saucer

By

NASA is testing a saucer-like space craft that could bring heavy payloads to Mars. Photo illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA is testing a saucer-like spacecraft that could bring heavy payloads to Mars. Photo illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Flying saucers from Mars is the stuff of science fiction. But a flying saucer from Earth is part of the mission to get astronauts to the Martian surface.

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory completed a successful spin test of a saucer-shaped experimental craft in front of a live web audience Tuesday. The saucer will next lift off by balloon from Hawaii, where from 120,000 feet it will be dropped to test a new kind of parachute and an inflatable Kevlar ring to add drag for a slower descent.

Help NASA solve space’s mysteries with this asteroid app

By

The Big Dipper rises behind the Catalina Sky Survey  telescope. Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/University of Arizona
The Big Dipper rises behind the Catalina Sky Survey telescope. Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/University of Arizona

There are millions of asteroids in the Solar System and relatively few astronomers to track them. They’d hate to miss that one dangerous rogue headed on a collision course with Earth.

So NASA has made it easier for the amateur stargazer to record and compare their discoveries and put extra eyes on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

NASA and Planetary Resources Inc. have developed a computer program that is based on an algorithm that analyzes images for potential asteroids. The new asteroid hunting application, available for free download here, was announced Sunday by NASA at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.