Be a space mechanic!

Astronaut in space

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Astronauts perform space walks to work on satellites, repair parts of the Station, carry out scientific experiments, or build and maintain the Space Station. Do you want to get an idea of what it feels like to work as an astronaut floating in space wearing a spacesuit?

Wearing a spacesuit: To simulate a spacesuit, wear many layers of clothes (pullovers, coats, coats from your parents…) on top of each other, two pairs of gloves and a crash helmet with the visor closed. Equipped like this, you will feel just like an astronaut in a spacesuit: you have little mobility, bad visibility, and you will feel hot.

Floating in space: To simulate the lack of a sense of balance in weightlessness, you should wear a pair of roller blades (don’t forget to put on knee and wrist protection)!

Saving time: Time is a valuable resource for astronauts, so you should be fast. Each of you is timed during the experience. It isn’t on time that is valuable, however: the quality of the work should be good as well. You should follow the instructions carefully.

Material needed: clothes, gloves, crash helmet, roller blades, screws, screwdriver, plank with holes (done with tacks), stopwatch and thread.

Step-by-step instructions on how to build your own initials: Form pairs: 1 astronaut with 1 assistant. The astronauts put on their “spacesuit” while the assistants prepare the material. The pairs work in parallel. The whole sequence is repeated at the end with reversed roles:

  • 1) The assistant starts the stopwatch
  • 2) The astronaut screws in 6 screws half-way (using the screwdriver) to create his/her own initial (Note: think in advance where to place them…). A “C” would look like:

  • 3) The astronaut winds the thread around the screws until the initial appear, like this “C”:
  • 4) The assistant stops the stopwatch;
  • 5) The astronaut repeats the whole sequence (steps 1-2-3 and 4) for the second initial.

Discuss: Is it very difficult? What are the difficulties encountered? How did you solve them? Was it easier for the second letter than for the first one?

Last update: 8 January 2013

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