Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Ever wondered what astronauts wear in space?

New Delhi, 16 June
Space clothing is not so drab as it appears to be in photographs showing the “robot-like” get-up of astronauts as those on the space odyssey are given a catalogue to choose their clothes, a Russian report says.
Space suits are worn only during the launch, docking, undocking and landing while rest of the time during missions, astronauts wear simple clothes, Russian news bulletin Ria Novosti Scitech Bulletin reports.
Astronauts are given a space catalogue for having clothes of their choice. “The purpose of the catalogue is to make clothes not only comfortable but nice as well,” it says.
The report says the presence of women on space missions has made their male counterparts more careful in the selection of clothes.
“Sergei Treshchev, a cosmonaut, asked for new sports shorts... He would feel awkward wearing boxer shorts in presence of a woman,” it says. (Jockey might just have found a niche market for itself.)
While underwear is made according to the standard measurements of the rest of the clothing, the personal taste of an astronaut, besides the shape of the neck, length of the sleeves and colour preferences are also taken into account, it says.
The clothing for a woman astronaut is unique with tailors designing clothes to make her feel like a “real woman in a spaceship and not just a fellow astronaut”. Space clothing designers have produced bathing suits and various types of underwear for women, it says. (Can Victoria’s Secret be too far behind)
Peggy Whitson, an Americam astronaut, selected modest clothing for her space flight which included long underwear without trimmings. Claudie Haignere, a French astronaut, picked up a “pretty bikini and tops with lace”. (So what’s new? Flash Gordon’s chick did it all the time)
“Many years ago, cosmonauts on the Mir space station had a shower cabin. Designers created bathrobes out of terry cloth for cosmonauts to wear after a shower but when they put on the bathrobes, it rode up almost to their ears,” it says. There is no shower on international space station with astronauts and cosmonauts using wet towels, it adds.
As all clothes ride up (kind of reminds you of Marilyn Monroe in The Seven-year Itch), sports shirts are made long — almost kneelength, it says. Also, clothes cannot have buttons as they can tear off in weightlessness and fly around the spaceship creating unexpected problems. Thus, zippers and snaps are used instead.
Cosmonauts are also given a sleeveless and collarless operator’s suit made from knitted fibre which helps them maintain a comfortable body temperature, the report says.
They rarely wear footwear and are given one pair of shoes on even long flights. In everyday activities, they wear thick terry socks. As clothes are not washed, used clothing is put in special packages and loaded in a cargo spaceship. After undocking from the station, the cargo spaceship together with the dirty clothes is burned up (if feminists ever went to space it would give bra burning an entirely new dimension) in the atmosphere.

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