archived 01-20-01
Archive file# o0121001a

Beyond this point, there be dragons!

In an article on the International Space Station, the compare the Astronauts to the 15th century explorers, saying:

"they all had to forge ahead and ignore the shrill voices behind them warning that "Beyond this point, there be dragons!"




Crews will be busy during their tours of duty on ISS. But all work and no play… So what constitutes relaxation and recreation for the men and women living aboard ISS?

A significant portion of non-working time will be taken up in a stiff regimen of exercise and physical activity. Again, information from MIR and previous other long duration flights shows that significant physical degradation of the human body occurs in space. "The human body was really designed to function in one-G," said Burbank. " Our bones, cardiovascular systems, muscle tissue and organs all change in zero-G. And the longer you stay, the more significant the changes become. " The good news is that the changes are reversible after return to the Earth. And, even better news is that an active program of strenuous exercise in space can reduce the changes.

But what are the individual crew members doing when they are not sleeping, working, or exercising? "Crew members will be allowed to take a certain amount of personal gear up with them," said Lu. "So things like checkers or chess sets, CDs and tape players, and the like are allowed. You can listen to your favorite music if you like. DVD movies will also be available for viewing."

So it's not exactly like home! And you can't take an evening walk outside to watch the sunset. But the "sailors" on ISS will have it better than those intrepid explorers that left Europe in the 15th century looking for new lands, or the Polynesian sailors that charted and settled the vast Pacific Ocean, or the Asian explorers and settlers who walked the land bridge from Siberia into Alaska and opened two new continents for their people.

They do, however, share two important traits. First, they are the vanguard of their respective civilizations doing what they believe will improve the well being of their people.

And second, they all had to forge ahead and ignore the shrill voices behind them warning that "Beyond this point, there be dragons!"


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