When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Whatever you just answered, unless it was an astronaut, you are wrong. Every kid at least wanted to try being an astronaut. But as with everything good about childhood, it all gets a bit more real and undesirable as we get older. Except that this is stupid because being an astronaut would be the greatest thing ever.
Look, a lot of dreams get crushed as you grow up in life. I think it’s fair to say that it’d be nice if at least one of these dreams was still totally amazing when you grew up, and I think after reading this you’ll agree there’s still a jaw-dropping side to those childish wonders we had to put aside.
Think I’m exaggerating? There’s a few things we forgot along the way about the life of an astronaut.
4. Crazy Space Experiments
Astronauts don’t just get to go up into space to pull rude faces at Earth and shoot spitballs into the atmosphere. You don’t just, on a whim, risk the lives of a crew of fine young folk with a bloated budget so huge that it would be less expensive to launch by just burning money. You need a reason to pool these kind of resources, even if that reason is a little bit bonkers.
Quick note: those aren’t astronauts, they’re the US air-force flying so high that they are simulating zero gravity. And I guess the real crew of the ship, the cats, brought them along so they could gyrate in the air-force’s faces.
That is a real, living, freaked out frog trying to find its way up in zero gravity too.
Let’s ignore all the actual experiments on the behaviour of fluid in a zero gravity environment and the huge amount of chemistry knowledge you need just to understand the life support systems on your ship. Every day, astronauts get to carry out experiments of the weirdest kind because none of the rules work in space.
A single rose was taken into space on the shuttle Discovery and, complicated science aside, it smelled completely different from the same kind of rose on Earth. Has your dream job ever been to smell all sorts of stuff in the vacuum of space? Probably not.
Has your dream job ever been to spin animals around wildly in zero gravity? THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD WANT TO BE AN ASTRONAUT.
3. Crazy Space Tech
NASA Astronauts have a toilet that cost $30 million to design and create.
This image is a replica, and the replica cost $50,000 to make. The design has been used in five different space shuttles between 1981 and 2011. The best thing about it, each model has to be tested to the point of being completely maintenance free, so no clogging is going to happen in this poop sucking automaton.
How do astronauts even ‘go’ in space? Well, it involves a lot of suction and jettisoning, and that’s probably all you actually want to know on the subject (I will say that only urine is jettisoned, since any solid matter would be ejected at 17,500mph making a space poop cannon). Ladies and Gentlemen, this just might be the single greatest bathroom creation, ever.
Do you know what else NASA does when it’s not designing toilets that could be considered weapons of mass destruction? It builds Iron Man suits to keep its astronauts in shape. Their words, not mine.
Since your body’s fluid control gets a little messed up in zero gravity, you can lose a great deal of mass in your legs without proper exercise. That’s where these bad boys come in. NASA also hopes that they can be used to help people with walking difficulties. They’re only in prototype stage at the moment, and I can only imagine that they will maintain your leg density by kicking asteroids away from the Earth.
You want to kick asteroids with power-legs? THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD WANT TO BE AN ASTRONAUT.
2. Crazy Zero Gravity
This may just be me, but as a kid this was my defining reason for wanting to be an astronaut. I wanted to float around like Homer Simpson chomping crisps out of the air to classical music. Never had snacking been so graceful.
The most mundane things in your everyday life suddenly become full of whimsy because everything is floating, including yourself. And it’s better than a bouncy castle because it’s hard to get sick and you don’t have to take your shoes off all the time.
The Canadian Space Agency has an amazing YouTube Channel hosted by Chris Hadfield from the International Space Station. Chris has this amazing ability to bring out all the wonder and fun of being an astronaut that you felt as kids. He shows what it’s like to brush your teeth in space (leaving a floating orb of water to put your toothbrush in), get your hair cut in space (sucking up all the hairs while cutting so they don’t float into the systems) and even though he has been an astronaut for a long time he still loves playing around in zero gravity.
You want to make a zero gravity sandwich? THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD WANT TO BE AN ASTRONAUT.
1. The Earth
This is Etna erupting from the view of the Space Station.
This is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, above Canada.
Seeing a view like that out of your window is the kind of experience only a few hundred living souls have managed in the entire existence of human history. I’m talking out of billions of people, only a few have looked down at the Earth from above like this.
This is why you should want to be an astronaut.