"Iss042e052678" by NASA Johnson via Flickr Creative CommonsCommunication

On the International Space Station your cell phone is sadly not going to have any coverage. The most common communication device for those in space is the HAM or amateur Radio. This is every astronaut’s favorite companion and can be used to speak with your family back on earth, groups of eager school kids, emergency messaging and more. More than six million people around the world are amateur radio operators, and not all are sixth grade science teachers. There is everything from voice transmissions to Morse code possible with a HAM radio. You’ll need some light background training in operating the radio and a license, which varies depending on the country where you live.


In order to qualify for Orbital space flight you must be at least 18 years old, between 160cm (5’3") and 185cm (6’1") in height, between 50 kg (110lbs) and 95kg (209lbs) in weight, and in general good health. Most astronauts go through rigorous physical training regimens that last several years before they enter space. While the rules are more relaxed for space tourists, you will be required to pass a medical screening prior to your space flight.


If you make it to the international space station you won’t have a gourmet menu to choose from. Options are limited. There are ovens to heat food, but there are not refrigerators so all food must be stored and sealed properly. Preparations vary by food type. Some foods can be eaten normally such as fruits, while things like pasta need to add water and heated. Salt and pepper are in liquid form, as normal salt or pepper would float away and get stuck in air vents or someone’s eyes. All space food comes in disposable packaging that is put in a trash compactor afterwards. If you would like to try a common type of space food, you can visit hobby shops and science museums to buy Space Ice Cream. It is probably the only type of space food the average person may have tried. It is essentially freeze dried ice cream that is always ready to eat and doesn’t need refrigeration. A famous space drink is Tang, a sugared, non carbonated soft drink that was used by astronauts on the Gemini Space flights. Tang can be purchased in your local supermarket.


On earth gravity is constantly pulling us toward the center of the planet. When aboard the International space station or taking a zero gravity flight, it is common to experience the feeling of weightlessness. Weightlessness occurs when you are free falling, are in orbit, and in outer space. It is commonly referred to as zero gravity; however, gravity does not completely disappear during weightlessness. More specifically it is just reduced gravity. Weightlessness allows you to float in the air, as if you were swimming. It seems easy to do, but it can be tricky and frustrating getting used to. For example, simple tasks such as eating or going to the bathroom, which you have done your entire life, become far more complicated when experiencing weightlessness.

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