Story #1 – How to Stay Warm in the Space Station
It was June 1982. It was the 23rd day of the flight on the space station Salyut 7. Valentin Lebedev, my space engineer, and I, got accustomed to the space station. We found the favorite spots; by the small round window, on the workout machines and by the equipment. Our station was much bigger compared to the early Salyut stations. It consisted of 3 cylindrical sections which were connected by small round corridors. The length of the station was almost 15 meters (about 45 feet) and the maximum diameter was more than 4 meters (about 12 feet). The amount of space inside our “house” was 82½ square meters (about 888 square feet). The space station was connected to our spaceship Soyuz T-5. However, there was almost no spare room on the station because most of it was occupied by different equipment. But the zero gravity presented us with some “gifts”. For example, you could sleep practically by staying near the wall or “lying” on the ceiling or just floating in space by the workout machine. Very soon each of us picked our favorite places and positions.
Space station – is a difficult organism and it’s not always easy to understand the reason why something was going on. We were the first inhabitants of the new station and were the “test pilots”. We had surprises all the time. Most of them were small problems, but they were bringing a lot of uncomfortable situations and worries. By the third week of our flight, the temperature started to drop to 18-19 Celsius (64 to 66 Fahrenheit). We reported this to the flight control center and we let them know the temperature had dropped and that we were very cold. Specialists from Earth answered back that nothing special was going on. It is just that the space station is using more energy and equipment and so at this moment it cannot maintain the higher temperature. Also, authority told us that the temperature of 19 Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) is a quite normal temperature and allows us to continue the work.
We really were able to continue to work because we had to move during our working hours and we would warm up during our mandatory training on workout machines. But the difficulty was connected with our sleep. You cannot cover yourself with a blanket in zero gravity. We had to sleep all dressed up and buckle ourselves to the wall and we were freezing more and more. When a person doesn’t move he gets colder faster. So we were waking up very often. Uncomfortable sleep was wearing us out. We couldn’t figure out what to do to warm up. We were trying to eat hot food, wearing extra underwear and socks, but still couldn’t warm up. The “Earth” was continually convincing us that everything was just fine. It is very likely that Valentin Lebedev was suffering much more than me because he liked being warm and was a civilian who grew up in more comfortable conditions. Once, as usual, I woke up from being very chilly. In order to warm up, I decided to work out on the treadmill. Very soon, I was able to warm up and give a shout to my space engineer in order to offer him the same solution. But I didn’t get any answer. He was soundly asleep I thought. I looked around the corner by the equipment where he picked his favorite place for sleep, but he wasn’t there. Slightly worried, I started my “flight” around the station looking in all the corners that would be good for sleep. But my space engineer was missing. I got really worried and started to examine the whole station. It wasn’t too big, however we had a lot of corners because of the amount of equipment. But Valentin was missing!
I didn’t know what to think. Automatically, I looked through the open window thinking he may have gone back to Earth looking for warmth! My thoughts were filled with all kinds of weird stuff like “green men”, flying saucers, invaders. My back started to feel cold from fear. My space engineer wasn’t found and I had to request connection to the flight control center and report to them about what I thought happened and Earth became totally silent. Then somebody rhetorically asked liked a child, “Where is Lebedev?” I answered, “I don’t know. He disappeared”. At that time, silence was even longer. Then it broke out with a lot of questions and exclamations; “Maybe he doesn’t feel well?” “Did you look for him thoroughly?” “Where could he possibly be?” “What else could you do?” “Look one more time.” “It’s impossible.” By amount of questions and nervousness, I understood that people on Earth were in panic. In order not to get panicky myself, I decided to examine the station one more time, especially thoroughly, by opening up every single closet and looking behind every panel.
Finally, I found him in the section where we were storing space suits. . . He was peacefully and sweetly sleeping in his own space suit. The matter of fact the spacesuits have independent heating system and my entrepreneur space engineer figured out that he can sleep by staying in the space suit with heat turned on. Space suit is an airtight suit in which a cosmonaut can live and work in open space or on the surface of space objects. Space suit has been compared to a reduced airtight cabin around the body and this is a very correct description. It consists of all panel blocks and systems which pertain to airtight sections of spaceship. In a space suit the cosmonaut can breathe normally and move, he is not hot or cold, even though outside the temperature can change very greatly. Besides that, the space station Salyut 7 was using a new brand of space suit called “Orlan” which were designed to work up to 6 1/2 hours in open space and this time was sufficient in order to warm up enough to proper sleep. He had found his way to stay warm. And “flying saucers” had nothing to do with his disappearance!
Pilot Cosmonaut Hero of the Soviet Union
|Story #2 — Can You Fly on the Vacuum Cleaner|