I love a good random fact. Like those people who have big jars of random screws, I save these random facts just in case someday I need on for a story I’m working on. My notebooks are full of info I stumble upon, such as this quote (sadly, I don’t remember where I found it):
Technically a space suit protects an astronaut from nothing.
Another gem I stumbled upon recently (and is currently stored on a sticky note on my desk) is the fact that humans consume ~5-6 millilitres of oxygen per minute—which sounds like a great starting point for a thrilling science fiction short story.
Here are three more space related random facts that have been on my mind recently.
1 – those hissing cockroaches in orbit
In 2006, Genesis I was launched into space. It was an experimental inflatable habitat carrying four Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Not sure why they picked cockroaches, but it sounds like a premise for a horror movie where giant, irradiated and angry cockroaches return to Earth bent on revenge. The first time I heard of this I assumed it wasn’t true–but it is.
Because one group of space cockroaches isn’t enough, in 2007, Genesis II launched with another batch. Just in case you need something to worry about in the middle of the night, as of June 2021 both spacecraft are still in orbit–but the orbits are decaying.
Then there’s the tardigrades—and we know they can survive lunar crash landings. Tardigrades don’t creep me out like the cockroaches do, but they’ve already made it into our recent science fiction such as season 1 of Star Trek Discovery.
2 – early spacesuits needed help from bra makers
It turns out the early spacesuits were made by hand (as someone who sews this is fascinating to me which is why this book is in my to be read pile). Each suit required sewing many layers together with extreme precision. The International Latex Corporation won the contract to make these suits because they had experience making complex garments containing multiple layers–experience gained through making bras as Playtex. Even though I’ve watched a million documentaries about the early US space program, this fact never seems to come up.
3 – Channel 37
When I was a kid we lived with analogue TV. The old CRT set we had came with a dial we could use to switch between channels. We didn’t have cable, so
the best I could hope for was reception to three or four channels on single digit channels.
In turns out in some areas (probably not where I grew up), the transmission on TV channels could interfere with radio telescopes–the kind that were listening for stars (or aliens) that emit in the radio frequency spectrum. Here’s a fascinating article on the topic.
Finally, I recently found out that ad astra per aspera is written on the golden records carried on the voyager spacecrafts heading out of our solar system (which also include directions on how to get to Earth). It means ‘through hardship to the stars’, a fitting motto for the characters in the next story.
Next up on Armchair Alien - Lunar Escape
After years of captaining a cramped, Conglomerate owned survey ship, Lucas Ordaz is ready to retire and live his dream life on solid ground beside the love of his life. There’s just one last mission: before Earth’s defences obliterate the asteroid, Lucas needs to shuttle a scientist out to study it.
The scientist’s ambitions are set on fire when they discover a potentially alien object on the asteroid. She forces the reluctant crew to attempt bringing it aboard, and chaos ensues.
Lucas wakes up in an abandoned lunar mining facility, without a clue of what that object was or who he can trust. Most importantly, he has to find a way to make it home.
Lunar Escape starts Thursday. Don’t miss an episode.