Astronaut on Earth's Moon with Earth in the background

How to Prepare for an Intergalactic Journey

Words: Megan Michelson
Photo Above: Getty Images

The force is awakening again. Better prep for space travel.

“The coolest thing about going into space? No gravity. Astronauts always say they love to float around and act like Superman,” says Mike Paul Hughes. Hughes hasn’t actually traveled to outer space, but as an aerospace engineer for Lockheed Martin’s space exploration systems, he’s helped a lot of astronauts go interplanetary. Hughes specializes in entry, descent, and landing systems for major space explorations, like Orion and Deep Impact. So he knows a lot about what it takes to prepare for a journey into the great beyond.

1 HAVE A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH

“You’ve got to be in tip-top physical shape before you go into space. For NASA astronauts, they’ve got to be free of chronic disease or bone problems. You have to be quarantined from illness. There’s no surgery and no sick bay in the International Space Station. Before you go, everything from your teeth to your toenails need to be checked out.”

Astronaut in Earth orbit with Earth as background

© Getty Images

2 PUT ON A SMILING FACE

“Astronauts tend to be very ambitious people. They’re always in demand. Their time is very limited. In order to go on a spaceship, you want to be likable. You need to be pleasant even when things get stressful or boring. You can’t be naturally grumpy.”

3 PLAN YOUR MENU

“In space, you need all the same stuff you need to survive on earth, only more of it. And it’s all got to be packed way ahead of time. For meals, you’ll need dehydrated meals pre-packed to reduce weight. But you can eat things like spaghetti and meatballs in space. Almost anything you can have on earth, you can dehydrate, package and eat in space.”

2 astronauts asleep in space

© Getty Images

4. GET SOME SLEEP

“Astronauts often say that falling asleep in space can be very troubling at the beginning. You wake up with your arms out like you’re sleepwalking. But after a while, you’ll find a way to sleep. They have these little bunk areas that they float around in.”

5. TAP YOUR INNER MUSICIAN

“You’re almost always working when you’re in space. There’s no free time. But at the International Space Station, there’s an acoustic guitar and a keyboard. Sometimes the astronauts jam. If I were going to meet an alien, I’d bring them a guitar. Music is a universal language on earth—there’s no culture that doesn’t have music. So that seems like it would be a good gift to bring into space.”

6 PACK TINY PERSONAL ITEMS

“Each astronaut is allowed a small amount of space they can allocate to personal belongings, like family photos or music. Every ounce has to be important. For music, it used to be that you had to bring a cassette tape, but now you can bring as much music as you want digitally. Spacecraft life is a lot like submarine life. The volume of the space station is smaller than a one-bedroom apartment. But it has a pretty spectacular view.”

7 DON’T FORGET EMERGENCY TOOLS

“Phasers. Tricorders. We don’t actually have that stuff. So I’d maybe bring a flashlight. And a pair of pliers in case you’ve got to pull a tooth.”

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12 2015 RedBulletin.com

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