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Space exploration
Living in space


flying in the space

When people orbit Earth or travel to the moon, they must live temporarily in space. Conditions there differ greatly from those on Earth. Space has no air, and temperatures reach extremes of heat and cold. The sun gives off dangerous radiation. Various types of matter also create hazards in space. For example, particles of dust called micrometeoroids threaten vehicles with destructive high-speed impacts. Debris (trash) from previous space missions can also damage spacecraft.

On Earth, the atmosphere serves as a natural shield against many of these threats. But in space, astronauts and equipment need other forms of protection. They must also endure the physical effects of space travel and protect themselves from high acceleration forces during launch and landing.

The basic needs of astronauts in space must also be met. These needs include breathing, eating and drinking, elimination of body wastes, and sleeping.

Protection against the dangers of space
Engineers working with specialists in space medicine have eliminated or greatly reduced most of the known hazards of living in space. Space vehicles usually have double hulls for protection against impacts. A particle striking the outer hull disintegrates and thus does not damage the inner hull.

Astronauts are protected from radiation in a number of ways. Missions in earth orbit remain in naturally protected regions, such as Earth's magnetic field. Filters installed on spacecraft windows protect the astronauts from blinding ultraviolet rays.

The crew must also be protected from the intense heat and other physical effects of launch and landing. Space vehicles require a heat shield to resist high temperatures and sturdy construction to endure crushing acceleration forces. In addition, the astronauts must be seated in such a way that the blood supply will not be pulled from their head to their lower body, causing dizziness or unconsciousness.

Aboard a spacecraft, temperatures climb because of the heat given off by electrical devices and by the crew's bodies. A set of equipment called a thermal control system regulates the temperature. The system pumps fluids warmed by the cabin environment into radiator panels, which discharge the excess heat into space. The cooled fluids are pumped back into coils in the cabin.

Contributor: James Oberg, M.S., Spaceflight Engineer; author, UFOs and Outer Space Mysteries.
Source : World Book 2005

Space exploration
What is space?
Getting into space and back
Living in space
Meeting basic needs in space
Communicating with Earth
The dawn of the space age
Space probes
Probes to Venus
Probes to Jupiter and beyond
Probes to comets
Human beings enter space
Apollo: Mission to the moon
Exploring the moon
Returning to Earth
The International Space Station
Space shuttles
Types of shuttle missions