Blog gives space tourist's take on life on ISS
A blog written by space tourist Anousheh Ansari is giving a unique perspective on space travel from an amateur's perspective.
On her blog, Ansari has written candidly about the health effects of space travel, something professional astronauts rarely do, including the symptoms of space adaptation syndrome.
The Iranian-born American businesswoman blasted off on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Sept. 18 with U.S. astronaut Mike Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin.
During the two-day trip to the International Space Station, Ansari wrote that she became space sick because the Soyuz capsule is constantly spinning on its axis.
After "flying" from one end of the ship to the other, "I felt my internal organs doing a cha-cha inside my belly," she wrote.
Ansari took pills and was administered injections for the motion sickness.
"On top of that, I was having two more space flight symptoms. The first one was lower back pain. Basically your spine stretches because of the fluid and you get taller. I was happy about being taller but the pain was not fun," she wrote.
"The second symptom was fluid shift to the head. Because gravity is not there to help the blood that is pumped by your heart go down to your feet, it accumulates in your head, so your face gets puffy and red and you get a headache. It sort of feels like when you do a headstand for a long period of time," wrote Ansari.
When the capsule reached the station, though, all the symptoms were forgotten.
"As soon as I stepped on the station I felt like I was home," she wrote.
Symptoms of space sickness usually last one to two days.
Washing hair, showering can be tricky
Ansari has also addressed some of the mundane activities we take for granted on Earth that can be tricky in orbit.
"The most interesting experience — or I should call it experiment— is washing your hair. Now I know why people keep their hair short in space," she wrote.
"You basically take a water bag and slowly make a huge water bubble over your head and then very, very gently, using a dry shampoo, you wash your hair. At the slightest sudden movement, little water bubbles start floating everywhere," she said.
Ansari said she made a video of her hair-washing, but has to wait for her return to share it. Some of her digital photos have been posted on Flickr, including one of the view of Earth from her bedroom window.
She also describes the process of "showering" on the ISS, using wet and dry towels.
"Of course water here is a valuable resource, and is recycled so anything wet is not thrown out, instead it is left out to air dry. This includes your sweaty clothes after exercising," she wrote.
The station's environmental control system takes moisture out of the air, purifies it and reuses it as drinking water.
"One of the cosmonauts once told me, 'We are all very close to each other, we are like brothers and sisters, it is very unique because we drink each others' sweat,' " she wrote.
Ansari described the close quarters on the station, with six astronauts currently on board.
"I guess those of you in college and living in a dormitory can relate to it. There is one big difference though â¦ When you get sick of your roommate you just step out and go walk for while," she wrote.
"Here, if you don't like your roommate, there is nowhere to go. The next ride home arrives in six months and you better work on your interpersonal relationships."
Although Ansari's agreement with the Russian space agency forbids her from talking about the money involved, she reportedly paid $20 million for her 10-day trip in space.