What Gravity didn’t show is that space is littered with pee, eggs, and garbage…
As most people are aware, a lot of animals have been sent into space. With all the dogs, tortoises, monkeys, and cats blasted into the stratosphere, the early years of the space race seemed less like scientific advancement and more like an unholy crusade against petting zoos. However, contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a frozen menagerie of animal corpses orbiting the Earth – every animal that went up there was either brought back to Earth (some of them even partially alive!), or destroyed in various forms of terrifying explosions and crashes. One craft, however – America’s Biosatellite 1, which was launched in 1966 – was never recovered, and is presumably still looping around our home world with its cargo of fruit flies, bacteria and, weirdest of all, frog eggs. If aliens ever inspect this pod and mistake it for human genetic material, hurled out into the void, they’re going to be horribly disappointed the first time they meet a human and discover it doesn’t have gills. Now, we found a really awesome article all about the various animal expeditions on NASA’s website, and we were all set to link to it. But when we went to www.NASA.gov this morning, this fucking bullshit happened:
Yeah. Thanks, government shutdown. Now you’ve ruined space, too.
In these civilized times, most urine produced by astronauts is recycled into drinking water, because space exploration is made of equal parts awe, wonder, and grossness. In the days before those lucky adventurers got to taste their own bladder, however, most pee was flushed out into space, freezing instantly into crystals that float around like little salty diamonds, reminding all would-be invaders that we’ve thoroughly marked our territory already. The best part is that, by all accounts, the sight of a pee-sicle swirling away into the void is absolutely breathtaking.
The (Literal) Brains Behind Star Trek
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Deceased Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry has already had some of his ashes fired into space, but now he and James Doohan (the actor who played Scotty) will have their ashes placed aboard yet another craft, the Sunjammer. Despite sounding like a terrible white reggae group, Sunjammer is actually a highly sophisticated ship that relies on a giant solar sail to propel it through the galaxy, allowing Rodenberry and Doohan to scatter where no man has scattered before.
There have been plenty of lost tools in the course of years of exploration and maintenance – a glove, a pair of pliers, and a tool bag have all taken giants leaps for mankind – but there’s something so bizarrely pedestrian about losing a kitchen implement in space. Lost by astronauts Michael Fossum and Piers Sellers on a routine repair job back in 2006, the spatula is still out there somewhere, circling the globe and probably feeling smug that it’s already accomplished more in its short, plastic life than any of us ever will.
If you’ve seen Gravity, you’ll know that the initial disaster is kicked off when a Russian satellite gets blown up, showering deadly debris into space (don’t worry, this literally happens in the first five minutes. No spoilers here!). It’s not the first time that Ruskie garbage has taken a sojourn in orbit – during the heyday of Russian space exploration, legendary space station MIR was notoriously cramped and uncomfortable, leading to bags of space trash being ejected to make room for more vital equipment (and cosmonauts). In other news, we are now going to start a glam rock band called Space Trash. We’re gonna be massive.