International Space Station: The ultimate serviced apartment
Since November 2, 2000 the International Space Station has provided long-stay accommodation to space travelers. Similar to the more "earthy" serviced apartments, it provides means for cooking, constant water supply, fitness possibilities... and much more. So what should travelers expect from their stay at the ISS?
The ISS has been the accommodation for 240 guests to date, consisting of 19 nationalities, mostly from Russia and the USA, many of which have traveled multiple times, with up to five visits per traveler. The ISS is also open for private enterprises, even enabling a handful of tourists to visit. A total of 395 flights have been already made to the ISS, the next mission being scheduled for mid-November 2020.
Shipping supplies off the earth's orbit is extremely expensive. This makes water probably the most precious and scarce thing during space travel. The ISS achieves a 90% sustainability in terms of water supply. Through the most advanced filter systems the astronauts' urine and sweat are recycled into water for their healthy and safe consumption through infinite cycles.
Physical exercise is mandatory for all space travelers
Due to the lower gravity forces in orbit, our bodies automatically lose muscle and bone density. In order to fight this effect, space travelers have to work out an average of 2,5 hours a day for the duration of the entire journey. Once they return to earth, and despite the exercise, performing even normal daily tasks might become a challenge for returning long-stay travelers , due to the comparatively much higher gravity forces on earth. The rise in blood pressure is another consequence of long-stay space travel, which forces space travelers to lower their sodium intake.
What about food in space?
The menu selection in the ISS consist of around 200 different dishes, that have been thermo-stabilized or freeze dried prior to their journey. These packing methods enable the food to be efficiently carried and stored without barely any water (powder form), relying thus on the recycled water supply at the space station. Travelers at the ISS can reheat their food with hot water and oven style devices. They drink and eat from pre-packed pouches. Every pack has a velcro attached to it, so that it can be sticked on to a surface during the eating process. Foods that crumble like bread are not allowed for hygine reasons at near-zero-gravity.
In order to keep it varied, guests mix it up between food pouches in innovative ways, resulting in brand new combinations. As the the human taste gets less sensitive in space, hot sauce is an all time favorite at the ISS, which helps to add an extra kick of flavor to an otherwise bland meal.
But what about ordering food and takeaways? Will we ever see food delivery services operating all the way to the International Space Station and beyond?