Life in microgravity is a lot harder than you think
5:33

Life in microgravity is a lot harder than you think

Science
Tonight, gravity. Just like the other members of your medical [UNKNOWN] bandit constantly holding you back. But what would it be like to float through space? What could you achieve if you want to stop to this dumb planet? And why does space involves so much vomiting? I'm Claire Reilly for CNET, welcome to Watch This Space. [MUSIC] From the CNET studios in Sydney, this is your weekly guide to everything on Earth you need to know about space. And in the wise words of the patron saint of Tennessee, Dolly Parton All you need is Jesus and gravity, but what happens if one of them abandons you. No, that's not a scathing biblical burn against the original Patriarch of Antioch, Simon Peter, though here at Watch This Space, we are always trying to snag that crucial Galilei demographic. No, I'm talking about life without gravity because turns out 0 gravity is 0 fun. To explain, let's get back to the basics of gravity. Everything with mass has gravity. Here on earth it's stronger in some places than others. But whether you drop an apple in America or in Australia, it's gonna fall with an acceleration of roughly 9.8 meters per second. But gravity isn't just about big things pulling it close, every object with mass exerts a gravitational pull. So technically you're pulling on the Earth while it pulls on you. It's just that you're powerless against it's forces. Even in space, gravity doesn't disappear altogether. The Earth is pulling on the moon, the sun is pulling on the Earth, and at the center of it all the great old one, Cathulu, is holding everything together in it's giant, merciless claws. Importantly, there's no such thing as zero gravity. Now, the thing we refer to as zero gravity is actually microgravity. Just like micromanagement it's there, but in a really undetectable passive aggressive way. Humans spend most of their time in space aboard The International Space Station, she says as though NASA is constantly shooting people up there like it's a velcro wall of the trampoline park. But you may be surprised to know the ISS still feels the Earth's gravitational pull, despite all the footage you've seen of a dreamy Chris Hadfield floating up there with his guitar. The ISS is in Orbit only about 250 miles above Earth. According to NASA in that near Earth orbit, gravity is still about 90% of what it is for humans here on Earth. So, why do astronauts [UNKNOWN] Because they're hurdling towards their death then they constant state of free fall. Imagine that feeling at the top of a rollercoaster right before you drop, well, the ISS is constantly being pulled towards earth by gravity, it's [UNKNOWN] It's also traveling at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour. Just enough to keep floating with the Earth's gravitational pull. Any faster it would fly out of Earth's orbit. But any slower it would come crashing down towards Earth. It's in this sweet spot I would like to call the Tom Petty tribute band zone. Constantly free falling. So it looks like those astronauts inside ISS are floating serenely but really, they're just living in the world's highest rollercoaster ride that never ends. But apart from wanting to constantly hurl at the window, [UNKNOWN] actually kinda hard to spend everyday in this kind of microgravity. Microgravity is kind of like a petulant child, whenever its around, nothing is every way you left it. Want to put down your pen? There is no down. Want to read a magazine at the table? Your table is useless here. Sleeping attached to a wall. Running tethered to a treadmill. In space, astronauts live like that weird kid with mittens pinned to his chest. Everything is attached to something else because microgravity simply cannot be trusted. And just like a petulant child. Microgravity often hangs around when you don't want it to. If you don't sleep in a well ventilated area in space, then your breath just hangs around your face and forms a bowl of CO2 until your suffocate. Neat. Microgravity is the annoying cousin of room space. Unhelpful, unwanted, and definitely gonna try and kill you in your sleep. So how do astronauts get used to that kind of microgravity here on Earth? Well, I have two words for you Vomit comet. The vomit comet, also known as the KC-135 is a four engine turbo jet that flies in parabolic arcs about 30 to 40 times over a two to three hour flight. It flies up at a 45 degree angle before diving sharply down again. At the top of the arc, passengers experience about 20 seconds of weightlessness. As the plane dives down to the bottom of the air, passengers are pulled down, and feel double the Earth's gravity. So, if you want to shuttle off this model coil, remember 2G, and not 2G. That's the question. And the answer is [INAUDIBLE] The KC 135 is used by NASA as part of its reduced gravity program. To acclimatize astronauts to space travel test equipment and presumably by PhD supervisors trying to make them more annoying students hove on cue. The reduced gravity program might be designed for late astronauts but regular people like you and me can also experienced the joy of blowing chunks on or retrofitted aeroplane. Companies like Zero-G sell that police for a bit over $5000 plus tax. So, there you have it. If you're an elite astronaut or a mega rich oil tycoon, you too can experience the thrills of microgravity. Losing pens, vomiting on cue, all while enjoying the endless freedom that comes with constantly falling towards your death. All right, that's it for this week's episode of Watch This Space. If you've enjoyed the program then please be sure to hit the like button on your [UNKNOWN] and subscribe to get more space news as it happens. I'm Claire Riley [UNKNOWN], good night and God speed.

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