Creating Extra Space in Outer Space

Astronaut food

If you think you’ve got a problem finding room to store your things, imagine how astronauts feel. On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon and probably discovered a lot about storage in space. A space mission requires many supplies, all of which must be taken on board the spacecraft and stored in a manner that allows for easy access while taking up as little room as possible.

How do you store air and water?

When you go into space, you need to take everything you need with you. There aren’t any self storage units in space, so everything has to be kept on the craft itself. This necessitates storage units for oxygen and nitrogen. For trips on the Space Shuttle, these elements were liquefied and kept inside four tanks. A complex system regulated the internal atmosphere of the shuttle, keeping the astronauts inside from suffocating. Water, too, needed to be carried on the shuttle. It, too, was kept in four tanks, pressurized by nitrogen so it could flow to different parts of the shuttle.

Food requires special storage

As for food, that was stored on the deck in the crew compartment, where a kitchen module provided an area to store and prepare food. Generally, astronauts followed a seven-day meal plan, which they could design themselves (with approval from a nutritionist). There were also emergency rations in case something happened to force the shuttle to stay in space longer than expected.

Early astronaut food was not very appealing. Food preparation and storage is quite different in space. Foods must be packaged a certain way; packaging must preserve the food, be lightweight, disposable and useful in how the item is consumed. Many foods and beverages are dehydrated or treated specially to keep it from spoiling in space. Early space foods were stored in toothpaste-like tubes and came in cubed, powder and liquid form.

Extra cargo space in space

In addition to the things necessary to keep astronauts alive, there also needed to be space to store important mission equipment. The cargo bay was 60′ X 15′ and included a 50′ robotic arm for lifting and moving objects. The bay could hold as many as five unmanned spacecraft.

Fortunately, most of us don’t need NASA engineers to design the storage space we need. With a little organizational planning, a self storage unit will suffice to keep all our things in one convenient place on this planet.

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