Chris Hadfield AMA session on reddit

Can you propel yourself in space by farting?

Introduction

“I am Col. Chris Hadfield, retired astronaut.”

“ Hi Commander Hadfield! I’m curious to know, is it possible for someone to get stuck floating in the middle of a room in the ISS? As in they’re floating and the walls are out of reach.”

“Yes, it is — you can get stuck floating in the center of Node 1, where open space is biggest due to hatches on all sides. But ISS has fans and forced air to mix and refresh the internal atmosphere, so there’s always a small crosswind. Wait long enough, you’ll get pulled to an air inlet.”

ISS: International Space Station


“Have you had any close calls/accidents while in orbit?”

“I was blinded by contamination in my spacesuit during my 1st spacewalk. It was the anti-fog used on my visor, took about 30 minutes for my eyes to tear enough to dilute it so that I could see again. Without gravity, tears don’t fall, so they had to evaporate. No way to rub your eyes inside the helmet.”


“Did you have to pass through Customs or some other international checkpoint when you landed in Kazakhstan?”

“ Yes, we did. NASA kept our passports and visas, and brought them to us at landing, so we had them at the Karaganda airport to leave Kazakhstan. A funny but necessary detail of returning to Earth.”


“What happens if you sneeze in the helmet?”

“When we have to sneeze in our spacesuit, we lean our heads forward and sneeze into our chest, to keep it from splattering on the visor. Still messy, but the best compromise — clean it up when you de-suit.”


“I wonder if farting would push you far enough to get unstuck.”

“We all tried it — too muffled, not the right type of propulsive nozzle :)”


“Hello Chris, I have a question I’ve always wanted to know. How often do you guys use your imagination while floating in zero gravity, like do you ever imagine yourselves as Superman flying?”

“Yes, we even pose for Superman-like pictures, normally with a big goofy grin on our faces. But the inside of ISS is small enough that super-hero leaps often end in a tumbling crash into the other wall.

An interesting experiment on ISS is to close your eyes and imagine that, instead of flying, you are falling. You can suddenly make the mental transition and it can be startling, like that panic rush you get in a dream. Then you open your eyes :)”


“Hi Chris, nice to see you here! How would you describe space to someone who hasn’t been there? And what are your goals for 2014?”

“Space is profound, endless, a textured black, a bottomless eternal bucket of untouchable velvet and untwinkling stars.

My goals for 2014 are the same as always — learn things, be useful, feel satisfied, play music, laugh and have fun, every day.”


“Do you believe in extraterrestrials?”

“I’ve always thought that was an odd way to ask. ‘Believing’ and ‘believing in’ are 2 different things.

Our best telescopes have shown us that there is basically an unlimited number of planets in the universe. To think that Earth is the only one where life could have developed is just self-importance.

But to think that intelligent life has traveled all the way here and is sneaking around observing us is also just self-importance.

The universe is basically endless. We have not yet found life anywhere but on Earth, but we’re looking for it, to the best of our technical ability. All else is wishful thinking and science fiction.”


“If you could’ve had any animal in the ISS with you, what animal would it be?”

“It’s a strange environment, weightlessness. I wouldn’t want to bring an animal that would be scared or unable to adapt. Also food and pooping are problematic. So perhaps something calm and simple, a reliable pet, like a snail.

Nah, who am I kidding — I’d like Albert, my pug. He’d be hilarious and cheerful.”


Don’t forget to read the full AMA! #ColChrisHadfield
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