Got The Space Station Blues, with apologies to musicians everywhere
March 19, 2012 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Learning his return to Earth from the International Space Station might be delayed for possibly up to two months, NASA astronaut Ron Garan sings the blues from the Soyuz spacecraft that will take him home. Eventually.

ISS previously and previously

The members of the Expedition 28 in order of appearance: Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa, Andrey Borisenko, Alexander (Sasha) Samokutyaev, Sergei Volkov and Ron Garan

Update: Ron, Andrey and Sasha safely returned to Earth Friday, Sept. 16, 2011.
posted by nickyskye (62 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Should just get a parachute and jump. That guy from Austria did it!
posted by KokuRyu at 1:18 PM on March 19, 2012


The thing I always love about ISS videos is how every single thing you see seems to have two or more warning labels on it. Everything, like there was a rule.

NASA Space Device Regulation 12.32a subsection 5c: Every single item to must have three separate stickers on it saying "Warning: You're in space. There's nothing outside but hard vacuum and long fall. Warning: if you fuck any of this up you are guaranteed a sudden, dramatic death. You're in space."
posted by mhoye at 1:23 PM on March 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


The Sonic Affect Expression Unit (SAEU) operates by resonating a vibrating metal cord over an enclosed space. Using the SAEU, crew may communicate mission-critical information, such as why my baby left me and how I'm feelin' so bad. The SAEU is not intended for use during EVA.
posted by theodolite at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2012 [21 favorites]


I think actual hearts and sparkles were shooting out of my eyes for the entire length of this video.

Also, bonus points for being an excellent little tour of the ISS! Now I'm going to have to go see if there're other vids like this floating around...
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:34 PM on March 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


In related news, I should not be allowed to live in zero-g. It's bad enough when I only have horizontal surfaces, but if I can clutter things up in three dimensions then we're all in deep trouble.
posted by ckape at 1:34 PM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


At first brush getting to stay on for additional time seems like a boon, but then when you think about how damaging space is currently on the human body, and how cramped and isolated it is there (even with the best views of Earth), it does kind of seem to suck somewhat.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2012


I like how the Russians are clearly assembling a bomb in their end of the station.
posted by bicyclefish at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


The thing I always love about ISS videos is how every single thing you see seems to have two or more warning labels on it. Everything, like there was a rule.

The inside of the ISS, is just littered with *stuff*, weird plastic things, high-tech electronics, BOXES! It looks like there's boxes, everywhere - almost as if there's piles of stuff accumulating.

It's like the book Walden 2, where the ideas of Walden were used as a basis, but you know with a scientific and social experiment. The ISS is like a social hikikomori.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:39 PM on March 19, 2012


The thing I always love about ISS videos is how every single thing you see seems to have two or more warning labels on it. Everything, like there was a rule.

just a huge red banner ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU ARE IN MOTHERFUCKING SPACE
posted by The Whelk at 1:41 PM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like how the Russians are clearly assembling a bomb in their end of the station.

I got the impression that they were preparing some kind of elaborate prank. Like rigging the human waste disposal tube from "suck" to "blow."
posted by theodolite at 1:43 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like the opening segment needed some mood music.
posted by brundlefly at 1:47 PM on March 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


The first thing that entered my mind was "It's bigger on the inside". I'm sure it's just the way the camera makes it look but it seemed to go on forever.
posted by tommasz at 1:48 PM on March 19, 2012


The greatest buzzkill on Earth is when you drop a pick inside the sound hole. I wonder if it's any better or worse in space? I suppose to get it out you could just move the guitar around while the pick stays in place rather than just shaking the whole thing above your head until it falls out and hits you in the eye.

I'm sure NASA has some document somewhere outlining the procedure.
posted by bondcliff at 1:55 PM on March 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Was anybody else fascinated by their necklaces floating-wiggling-rippling away in the air around their necks?
posted by nickyskye at 1:55 PM on March 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Re: Stranded astronaut with blues: See 'Janice Trumbull' from Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City.
posted by lalochezia at 2:09 PM on March 19, 2012


That was lovely. Unfortunately for me, I now want to know the name/purpose of every single piece of equipment that we saw as we passed. This does not bode well for my productivity at work...

Full disclosure: I turned down a job working as a materials engineer on the ISS. I refuse to second guess that decsion!

*sniff*
posted by blurker at 2:23 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


but if I can clutter things up in three dimensions then we're all in deep trouble.

Remember to velcro everything or it'll soon be someplace else.
posted by sammyo at 2:31 PM on March 19, 2012


What a great tour of the ISS. It's simultaneously bigger and yet still more claustrophobic than I imagined - probably because of the crap that's on every surface of every plane in every corridor. There's no escaping!

Sorry... I have to go clean my room now.
posted by yeti at 2:34 PM on March 19, 2012


Where do I velcro the velcro dispenser? That thing's more likely to vanish than matching socks in a dryer.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:37 PM on March 19, 2012


I bet just getting a guitar up to the ISS involved a shit load of red tape.
posted by chillmost at 2:40 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


still more claustrophobic than I imagined

I don't understand why they can't send up basically a big balloon, some multi-layer material with an outer metallic surface to cut the radiation. But once filled with air, add a window and grow a bunch of plants to recycle the air and give some room for serious zero-g spinning and cavorting.
posted by sammyo at 2:51 PM on March 19, 2012


I need need need a video of someone playing The Cool Green Hills of Earth while in a real spaceship.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:53 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because "add a window to something that has living humans on one side and hard vacuum on the other" is just one of several huge, huge problems in your request?
posted by mhoye at 2:57 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a window.
posted by phrontist at 3:04 PM on March 19, 2012


Two thoughts sprang to my mind:

- It's like camping. Camping in zero-g with lots of scientific instruments and more laptops than a hackathon, but camping.
- The Russians were fiddling with sticky tape. Because everything, including the Space Station and camping tents, works better with a few judiciously applied strips of sticky tape.
posted by kandinski at 3:17 PM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The "flight" over to the Russian side was totally cool.

I don't understand why they can't send up basically a big balloon, some multi-layer material with an outer metallic surface to cut the radiation. But once filled with air, add a window and grow a bunch of plants to recycle the air and give some room for serious zero-g spinning and cavorting.

Because lives are at stake and they have to design and test and build and retest the structure to make sure it'll keep people alive. Which costs money and if there isn't a good reason for building said structure, they're not going to.

A structure similar to the one you describe was on Skylab though. Astronauts used the space to test the backpack that Bruce McCandless wore in that famous photo.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:21 PM on March 19, 2012


Wow. I never, ever want to go into space. I'm like Frederic Forrest in Apocalypse Now. Never get out of the boat!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:22 PM on March 19, 2012


Wow, that tour of the station was really fascinating. "Architecture" was unlike anything on earth... weird tubes branching off in every direction. equipment on every surface, with no distinction between floors and ceilings. I assume a big part of the reason they have so much 'stuff' jutting out of the walls everywhere is that you want to be able to grab hold.

And this is kind of cheesy but someone linked this story by Charle Stross ("a colder war") about a hypothetical cold war involving alien technology, and the result earlier in the Prometheus thread, so of course as soon as they mentioned the "Russian Section" I'm like, oooh what's it like in the Russian Section, as if it would be vastly different Of course that's silly, But actually the 'design' in that area does look different then (and, not surprisingly, there are actually fewer warning labels)
I don't understand why they can't send up basically a big balloon, some multi-layer material with an outer metallic surface to cut the radiation. But once filled with air, add a window and grow a bunch of plants to recycle the air and give some room for serious zero-g spinning and cavorting.
Because lives are at stake and they have to design and test and build and retest the structure to make sure it'll keep people alive. Which costs money and if there isn't a good reason for building said structure, they're not going to.
I've always wondered about the 'balloon' idea for a space station. Obviously the biggest problem might be radiation. You have to filter out gamma rays, and I don't know how much shielding you would need. But probably a lot. I don't the a Mylar layer would do it.
posted by delmoi at 3:26 PM on March 19, 2012


Somebody got a map? I thought I had a decent sense of direction but I was completely lost.
posted by notsnot at 3:31 PM on March 19, 2012


Also, I wonder - why don't they stick a big space telescope on that thing? Seems like it would be efficient, we would actually be able to service it pretty cheaply.

What do people do all day on that thing?
posted by delmoi at 3:34 PM on March 19, 2012


Sit around and pick at the guitar, of course.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:38 PM on March 19, 2012


The balloon thought was in response to the tubiness of the station, actually seemed very cool and looks like there are nooks and spaces so folks can have personal time. And great for some long flys.

No, what I really think they need is a full machine shop, so if they decide they want a 'balloon' they could snag an old obsolete comms satellite before it burns up and construct stuff up there. Sigh, yes I know there's delta v involved in 'snagging' some old satellite, and firing up an acetylene torch may have issues, but heck, well, I just wanna go visit!
posted by sammyo at 3:39 PM on March 19, 2012


I love how happy the Russians all look that Ron's schedule got delayed and he's stuck up there for another several months. It's just so... Russian.
posted by whir at 3:52 PM on March 19, 2012


sammyo: "I don't understand why they can't send up basically a big balloon, some multi-layer material with an outer metallic surface to cut the radiation. But once filled with air, add a window and grow a bunch of plants to recycle the air and give some room for serious zero-g spinning and cavorting."

You mean this, but with life support?
posted by wierdo at 3:52 PM on March 19, 2012


No, what I really think they need is a full machine shop, so if they decide they want a 'balloon' they could snag an old obsolete comms satellite before it burns up and construct stuff up there.
Yeah, that's basically impossible. Changing orbits can take as much energy as it would to launch into space in the first place, without the benefit of having a huge amount of fuel which you have if you launch from earth.

It's interesting how much all of this technology is still based on Russian coldwar tech. The ISS apparently has a core based on the Salyut space stations. Apparently the core of the ISS, which runs all the life support systems started out as Mir-2
posted by delmoi at 3:57 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did a search for "ISS Maps" and found this which tells you were the ISS is at any given moment. It looks like it's orbiting over south America now, but might be over north America in a couple days. this page has a Java applet you can use to find where it will be in the sky. Check out the text:
Please allow sufficient time for all files to download the first time you access NASA SkyWatch. You will be downloading approximately 300 K of data, which can take three minutes or more on a 33.6 kbps modem connection. Significantly more time will be required (more than 10 minutes) with a 14.4 kbps connection. Many files reside in the Internet cache on your hard drive and do not have to be downloaded again unless you clear the cache.
posted by delmoi at 4:05 PM on March 19, 2012


Nice and all, but why was he holding the camera sideways the whole time?
posted by not_on_display at 4:06 PM on March 19, 2012


Nice and all, but why was he holding the camera sideways the whole time?

There's no sideways in space.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


That Skylab video is amazing. There's so much room!
posted by ckape at 4:21 PM on March 19, 2012


What really grabbed me was that this scenario has probably played out on every frontier outpost in history. Guy gets homesick, finds a quiet place to play guitar and shed a tear.

I was really convinced that Ron was going to be found in the Russian sector singing, dancing and drinking vodka...ofcourse they know better than to video document that kind of thing though.
posted by snsranch at 4:24 PM on March 19, 2012


There is a window.

You call that a window?!

This is a window.
posted by alex_skazat at 4:41 PM on March 19, 2012


I bet just getting a guitar up to the ISS involved a shit load of red tape.
Here's the story of how a guitar ended up in space. I can't find the video but they also have a keyboad up there. There is an all astronaut band called Max Q .
posted by get off of my cloud at 4:50 PM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


What do people do all day on that thing?

This and that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:54 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I've always wondered about the 'balloon' idea for a space station.

There have been many ideas floated for "inflatable" space habitats. I suspect it's only a matter of time before something feasible can be constructed.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:54 PM on March 19, 2012


Heh:
The Polyus spacecraft (Russian: Полюс, pole), also known as Polus, Skif-DM, GRAU index 17F19DM, was a prototype orbital weapons platform designed to destroy SDI satellites with a megawatt carbon-dioxide laser.[1] It had a Functional Cargo Block derived from a TKS spacecraft to control its orbit and it could fire test targets to demonstrate the fire control system. It was intended to be the first module of the third generation space station, Mir-2, after its failure, Mir-2 was delayed and later incorporated into the International Space Station. Zarya now fulfills that part of the polyus mission, and has no armaments.
They took out the space lasers!?
posted by delmoi at 4:54 PM on March 19, 2012


Bleh. Seasick and claustrophobic is a rather unpleasant combination.

Think I'll stay here. And I shouldn't have watched that right after dinner.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 5:44 PM on March 19, 2012


Another thing I noticed was that the first astronaut, Mike Fossum, is wearing a crucifix on his necklace and in the Russians' section, among the photographs and pictures they have on their wall is a Madonna and Child.

Of course, an astronaut can be of any religious faith, it just seemed an unexpected contrast (well, then again, there is 2001, A Space Odyssey) to see religious icons in space.
posted by nickyskye at 6:37 PM on March 19, 2012


Of course, an astronaut can be of any religious faith, it just seemed an unexpected contrast (well, then again, there is 2001, A Space Odyssey) to see religious icons in space.

For an even bigger contrast, enjoy a Russian Orthodox priest blessing a Soyuz with holy water before launch.
posted by resplendentoops at 7:14 PM on March 19, 2012


On Second viewing, man it feels like a first person video game.

also, I just can't reconcile the mundane hey guys let's make a video antics with the location. It's like, I'm gonna fool around with my camera IN SPACE here's my coworker on a laptop IN SPACE here's the Russians goofing around IN SPACE oh I'll just noodle on my guitar IN SPACE.
PEOPLE ARE GOOFING OFF IN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would pay real money for a HL2 level/mod where you could fly inside/outside the ISS and "use" things to get more info. NASA, make it happen!
posted by ymgve at 10:48 PM on March 19, 2012


But actually the 'design' in that area does look different then (and, not surprisingly, there are actually fewer warning labels)

Well, there are both historical and cultural reasons the designs are different. The Russians do have a more organic, free-form, what you might call a 'make it work' philosophy, while the US is very regimented, planned, committee-reviewed, and does actually try for a sleek high-tech look.

Basically the Russian segment is built from things they fly up on rockets that are glorified spacecraft themselves, while the US/ESA segment is built from things flown up on board Shuttle. Balancing the Polyus weapons-platform irony of the FGB, key aspects of Shuttle's design stemmed from a USAF requirement that it be able to launch Keyhole spy satellites (the size of a schoolbus) into polar orbits. Even though the US pissed away a decade playing with Erector-set space-station concepts -- with astronauts actually going on spacewalks and trying to assemble experimental prototypes piece by piece -- once we agreed to try for a Peace Dividend thing with the Russians and combine with their Mir-2 concept, it was ideal for launching big ol' ISS segments. So ours are bigger, roomier, and better organized.

bigger on the inside ... seemed to go on forever.

It retraces approximately the same path as diagrammed here. As for size, ISS vs. an American football field.

Where do I velcro the velcro dispenser?

There are loops of it pretty much everywhere, if you look closely. One of the Russians is actually using some velcro tape.

I don't understand why they can't send up basically a big balloon, some multi-layer material with an outer metallic surface to cut the radiation.

Well, back in the day, this was basically the external tank station concept. They basically threw away a hundred of those things! In the end, the cynical answer is that an ET station doesn't offer as much of the pork barrel spending that sustains so much of the space program, and the practical answer is that cleaning them properly and certifying them for human spaceflight/occupancy would have been a huge hurdle*, and the gripping hand answer is, well, look at the nice station we finally got.

* In fact, it was the reason the 'wet workshop' concept for Skylab was rejected.

A structure similar to the one you describe was on Skylab yt though.

Not really. That was just the vast interior of Skylab, which itself was a repurposed Saturn stage segment. I imagine some days the ISS crew wishes they had a gymnasium like that ....

I would pay real money for a HL2 level/mod where you could fly inside/outside the ISS and "use" things to get more info. NASA, make it happen!

You want Space Station Sim. For
a few more here.
posted by dhartung at 12:25 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I were up there, the Russian with the duct tape would not inspire confidence.
posted by lordrunningclam at 4:36 AM on March 20, 2012


I loved Ron. He really seemed to be channelling Joel from mst3k.
posted by Dysk at 6:17 AM on March 20, 2012


One of the lessons of Skylab was that you don't actually want that large a diameter of open space in zero gravity.

Making space station modules out of external tanks is one of those concepts that sounds great on paper, then you sit down to work out the details and it isn't nearly as simple as you would hope.

NASA has studied inflatable module concepts under the TransHab studies, which a company called Bigelow Aerospace picked up and ran with. Right now, however, it's questionable whether Bigelow will ever get the customers or financing (or have available crew services to order) to actually launch a real module. They did succeed in two semi-functional proof of concept tests (the Genesis modules), launched on surplus Russian ICBMs several years ago, but those were baby steps, the customers haven't materialized, and they laid off the majority of their staff over the past couple years.

I think inflatable modules would play a part in any future space stations or long duration BEO vehicles, however. The concept is sound.
posted by resplendentoops at 7:18 AM on March 20, 2012


One of the lessons of Skylab was that you don't actually want that large a diameter of open space in zero gravity.

Why is that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:45 AM on March 20, 2012


Why is that?

Any time you can easily get out of arms reach of something to grapple or can have stuff free-floating being out of arms reach, it's a royal pain.
posted by resplendentoops at 8:02 AM on March 20, 2012


Why is that?

You want to have always something within reach to grasp, especially if you start tumbling.
posted by Skeptic at 8:02 AM on March 20, 2012


I imagine a daily prank on Skylab was to push a colleague so he was just out of reach of everything, then pointing and laughing as he tries to get back.

"Seriously, guys. Give me a hand here! Don't leave me hanging!"
posted by ymgve at 8:04 AM on March 20, 2012


I'm imagining him dog-paddling fruitlessly in mid-air.
posted by brundlefly at 10:14 AM on March 20, 2012


Another thing I noticed was that the first astronaut, Mike Fossum, is wearing a crucifix on his necklace and in the Russians' section, among the photographs and pictures they have on their wall is a Madonna and Child.

The Russian section also has a picture of Tsiolkovsky.
posted by Snyder at 1:30 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


resplendentoops writes "For an even bigger contrast, enjoy a Russian Orthodox priest blessing a Soyuz with holy water before launch."

If I was sitting on top of 220 tonnes of rocket propellant I'd be asking for all the help I could get that wouldn't seem likely to actually hinder progress. If there is no god it won't hurt and if there is it might help. Assuming the priest doesn't take a big honorarium for performing the service.
posted by Mitheral at 5:55 PM on March 21, 2012


For an even bigger contrast, enjoy a Russian Orthodox priest blessing a Soyuz with holy water before launch.

Not to mention the blessing that the cosmonauts traditionally give to their bus.

Don't ask me why it's the bus.
posted by dhartung at 3:53 PM on March 22, 2012


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