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OUTER SPACE IS TRYING TO KILL YOU Designing for the Future of Commercial Space Travel by Virgil Calejesan

Š 2014 Virgil Calejesan

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Industrial Design School of Art and Design Pratt Institute May 2014

OUTER SPACE IS TRYING TO KILL YOU Designing for the Future of Commercial Space Travel by Virgil Calejesan

Received and approved:

______________________________________________ Date___________________ Thesis Advisor – Bruce Hannah

______________________________________________ Date___________________ Department Chair – Steve Diskin


6 9 10 12 14

Acknowledgements A Poem Welcome Introduction Act 1: REASONS not to go


Act 2: IGNORING those reasons and going anyway


Act 3: SURVIVING your decision to go


Act 4: UNDERSTANDING why space matters


Act 5: MAKING my contribution


Act 6: THE PROMISE of the newspace industry


Act 7: DISCOVERING the real secret

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A Pretty Picture Works Cited

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_most graciously you know who you are.

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WELCOME. 10 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Credit: Matei Plesa

Welcome to my exploration – a journey into the myriad knowledge and occupations within the burgeoning “New Space” industry, and a concerted attempt to uncover how I, as a nonengineer, non-scientist, non-astronaut, may make a not-insignificant contribution of my own. Do enjoy the ride. Virgil Calejesan | 11

Credit: Warner Bros. Cartoons


’d like to pause and note that this topic sounds completely ridiculous when I hear it from others. When someone tells me they want to explore outer space, my mind immediately conjures images of Bugs Bunny meeting Marvin the Martian. Instead of a parka-bedecked, rugged space-expeditionist-equivalent of Ernest Shackelton, I see plastic bucket helmets and make-believe cardboard rockets. When someone tells me “I want to be a space explorer,” I hear “I want to be a sorceror!”

Credit: Snurk

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Credit: Time Magazine


And yet, when I think on it myself; when I ignore all the naysaying I heap on myself and let the 12 yearold me whisper in my mind’s ear, I don’t hear ridicule – I hear wonder. My sorceror image is a honest-togod, Apollo-era space cowboy and to admit to myself and to you the reader, Space is awe-inspiring and chockablock with the very stuff that my dreams are made of.

Space will never be the “Future Mundane” for me; it will always be an adventure. I want to go to Space and I believe you should too. My thesis explores why.

Credit: NASA

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ACT 1.


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Characters: A Single Generic Human

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A simple fact noted in my title – and darn it if Neil deGrasse Tyson didn’t rip me off in Cosmos – Space is trying to kill you. At first blush, hardly a compelling reason to leave the planet. Among Space’s diverse arsenal:

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Credit: Sergey Tarasenko

Low Pressure Low Oxygen

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Humans evolved for a sealevel existence, our biology dependent on 1 atmosphere (14.7 pounds per square inch) of constant, evenly applied pressure across the surface of our bodies. Among many effects, at this pressure, our bodies maintain a certain amount of gases in our tissues and rely on this counter pressure force to push our chests back in after we inhale.

As we go up in altitude, the amount and density of gases decreases. And though we can withstand some of this change, above a certain altitude, there is no longer a sufficient oxygen supply, nor enough external force to dissolve this oxygen into our tissues or assist with breathing. At high altitude, and the associated low pressure, you asphyxiate.

Credit: Jack Crossing

According to a little high school chemistry, as pressure decreases with altitude, so does temperature (PV=nRT anyone?). If it’s a balmy 93 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level, it’s a chilly 27 degrees at 35,000ft. Venture outside the atmosphere entirely, with no pressure whatsoever,

temperatures can drop to -250 degrees. Furthermore, without the atmosphere’s protection, you could also experience +250 in direct sunlight. That same sunlight will also burn your retinas and permanently blind you without protection. At extreme altitude, you either freeze or cook.

Temperature Extremes

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Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Bad Taste

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Above: Astronauts dine in the Skylab trainer module, 1973 Inset: Meal from the NASA Space Food Systems Laboratory

Speaking of cooking, food tastes worse at high altitude. Decreased pressure and air density reduce air’s ability to hold moisture. As a result, “the lack of humidity dries your nose, and ... the change in pressure numbs one-third of

your taste buds” causing food to taste bland at altitude. “Even the sound of the engines affects how you perceive taste -- loud/ constant noise further deadens your tongue” (Moeller, 2014). Food not interesting in Space? Not good.

Credit: Artists Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick

And if blindness wasn’t enough, Space, is extremely disorienting. There’s the whole zero gravity / zero molecules thing going on – no natural force to tell your mind or body “down”, nothing to conduct sound and help you hear the direction of moving objects relative to your head. No air friction to indicate speed either. In zero gravity, your biology also takes a hit. Bone density decreases, muscles atrophy

from lack of a counter-force, total blood volume drops, and as a result, scientists suspect that your cardiovascular system may also “become lazy from not having to work against gravity” (Meggs, 2007) or pump as much blood (NASA, 2001). You also get puffy from blood floating to your head and chest, and on occasion, experience nausea and blurred vision. Zero gravity, zero molecules; havoc on the senses.

No Gravity No Molecules

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Other Planets

Credit: HD Walls 4 All

And that’s just out our front door. Astronomers have discovered over 3000 planets beyond our solar system. Planets vastly different than our own and far less hospitable.

Credit: Popular Science

Credit: Le Saviez-Vous?

Rocks Fall from the Sky

There’s No Ground

The Ice is on Fire

489 light-years from Earth is a planet about 1.5 times our size, with a surface temperature around 4,580 degrees F. And when it rains on COROT-7b, it rains rocks. (Carmichael and Brodwin, 2013)

Larger than Jupiter, this planet’s has no solid surface. Instead Kepler-13b consists of “hot, violently swirling layers of gas” rather than a connected mass like our own (Carmichael and Brodwin, 2013).

Though water is present, it’s nothing like we have on Earth. Extreme pressure on the planet forces the water to remain solid, though at 570ºF temperature, its surface is superheated into vapor. Gliese 436 b is essentially covered in burning ice (Winter, 2013).

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Credit: Popular Science

Credit: Popular Science


It Rains Glass

Darker than Coal

Lava, Acid, & Hell

HD 189773b has a similar blue to our own, which Scientists believe is due to silicate particles in the atmosphere which scattersblue light. Due to 1800ºF temperatures, the particles can condense to form glass, which is in turn blown by 4000-mph winds. So when it rains, “it rains glass, sideways” (Carmichael and Brodwin, 2013).

The darkest planet discovered to date, TrES-2b reflects only 1% of light. If seen with our own eyes, the planet would appear darker than coal (Carmichael and Brodwin, 2013).

Though similar in size to Earth, Venus largely covered in lava and its atmosphere a thick cloud of sulfuric acid, deeming it, in Steve Tufte’s words “wellmatched to Dante’s visions of hell” (Carmichael and Brodwin, 2013).

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In short, Space is empty, cold, lonely, and dark and in every way, it expects you to die.

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Credit: NASA

It’s also our greatest adventure.

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ACT 2.

IGNORING THOSE REASONS, AND GOING ANYWAY Characters: Rockets Space Cowboys Whole Countries A Cast of Thousands 24 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Credit: Matei Plesa

Jim Lovell says of our landing on the Moon, “It’s not a miracle, we just decided to go.” Despite infinite reasons not to, despite the crazy temperatures, lack of air, lack of pressure, lack of surfaces, lack of sound, lack of protection from the sun; not to mention meteroids, asteroids, solar flares, rogue planets, inescapable black holes, and exploding stars – despite in essence, the biggest Do No Trespass, Do-Not-Pass-Go / Go-Straight-to-Dead signs of the natural order – we just decided to go. So how did we do it? Virgil Calejesan | 25

Your Grandpa’s Rockets

Not too long ago, Russia and the US were having a tiny, little, minor disagreement called the Cold War. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Besides, ya know, arguing over who should rule the planet and risking the end of all things for everyone else in a fiery inferno of grand global style, they happened upon the notion that not just Earth, but Outer Space was of great strategic importance – to rain down nuclear lighting from upon their enemies. And so went the Space Race; one of the purest scientific efforts ever undertaken, all begun from a mutual dabbling in advanced German rocketry captured by both sides after the second World War.

Credit: Unknown, 1962

Above: Russian Space program propaganda depicting a cosmonaut, celebrating Soviet firsts in Space

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Seemingly out of nowhere, in the midst of all this posturing, the Russians put a satellite in Space; sent up by the mighty Integral, created by their mysterious Chief Designer, a disembodied amalgam of Soviet engineering prowess that completely took the US by surprise. The successful launch of Sputnik I put America on notice, and the US needed a spectacular next move. In response, The Mercury Project was established with a mandate to send men, not satellites, into the depths of Space. And they weren’t just any men, not mere test subjects, but the boldest of all men, military aviators, cut from the most “righteous” of cloths, kings of the pilot ziggurat, high-speed, high-altitude cowboys of the modern age and they were to become the first Astronauts, Greek for star voyagers. And how exactly was America going to put a living, breathing human being in Space? – Atop converted surface-tosurface missiles.

Credit: NASA

Above: The Mercury 7 Astronauts, 1960 Front, L to R:Walter H. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and Scott Carpenter Back: Alan B. Shepard, Jr.,Virgil I. Gus Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper

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The Redstone Rocket In the 1950’s, the Redstone rocket family was the missile of choice, capable of achieving suborbital and orbital spaceflight. The plan was to modify the rocket by replacing the warhead with a capsule and stuffing one daring space cowboy inside. Between 1961 and 1965, The Mercury-Redstone program successfully launched six of the seven Mercury Astronauts, including Alan Shepard (pictured at right), the first American in Space and John Glenn, the first to go orbital.

Right: Testing the Redstone rocket. Far Right: Infographic explaining the Mercury capsule and rocket.

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Credit: NASA


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Credit: Robert Knudsen

Above: President John F. Kennedy speaks on the nation’s space effort, Rice University, 1962.

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Project Apollo But theses successes were short-lived. During that same period of American progress, the Russian’s own Cosmonauts consistently beat the United States to each punch, sometimes by mere weeks – the first man to go sub-orbital, the first to complete low Earth orbit (LEO) and the first walk in Space. Behind and desperate for something spectacular, the young President Kennedy decided to up the ante in true Texas Hold-em style, All-In Over the Top: “We choose to go to the Moon.” In one of the craziest gambles ever uttered, just one year into our first successful space flights, Kennedy promised a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. On the moon. In less than 9 years. For the sake of comparison, consider this: Suborbital space flight is marked by an arbitary line, 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. At the time of the first space flights, man had already flown that high in other vehicles, including balloons and rocketpowered planes. And just a spell beyond that, seconds in rocket flight, and only minutes from lift-off begins low Earth orbit, at 99 miles. Also consider that not 60 years prior, WE

COULDN’T FLY (well, technically you could, but thats more floating than flying). And the US was going to put a man on the Moon. That beautiful glowing orb that, at its closest, is a whopping 225,623 miles away – almost 10 times the distance around the planet, 75 times the width of the United States, and over 2,000 times farther than we had travelled by 1962. Credit: Time, Inc. / Time Life Pictures Nothing and no one had ever gone that kind of distance. No sir, if the US was going for ideological domination, it was going to need a bigger rocket. Virgil Calejesan | 31

The Saturn V Rocket Credit: Ryan Sexton

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To date, the Saturn V rocket, is the largest, heaviest, baddest rocket ever built and built for a single magnificent purpose: delivering the most glorious one-finger salute to the entirety of the Soviet Union and their Space program. America was dropping the gauntlet in an ongoing engagement of what Tom Wolfe dubbed single-combat warfare. In order to land on the Moon, NASA’s rocketscientists dreamed up a massive, three stage monstrosity to propel our Astronauts further into the depths of Space. It consisted of a multi-stage rocket

system, designed to escape Earth’s gravity, accelerate the vehicle to 15,500 miles per hour, orbit the Earth several times to achieve proper alignment, and finally, propel the spacecraft, christened Apollo, towards the Moon. Each phase required impeccable timing, as well as complex separation and ignition of each subsequent stage. Once there, the Apollo

craft would separate from atop the third stage, fire its propulsion system, and take off on a separate trajectory around the Moon. Standing 363 feet tall (36 stories), capable of a 130 metric tons of lift (Britain’s entire starch import in 1905), and delivering 7.5 million pounds of thrust (160,000,000 horsepower), the Saturn V was

a dance of incredible havoc, disastrous potential, and unequaled beauty. And true to his promise, on July 20th, 1969, just 8 years after our first flights into outer space, the United States put a Man (and a litany of equipment) on the Moon, finally showing the mighty Integral that America had the right stuff. Opposite Page: The engines of the Saturn V rocket Left: Wernher von Braun standing in front of a Saturn V, ready for launch

Credit: NASA

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The Space Shuttle

Credit: NASA


ot long after the Moon landing, the United States began development on the Space Transportation System (STS) as part of its manned launch vehicle program. At its center, a resuable, winged launch vehicle that could

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carry seven astronauts and diverse payloads into orbit, perform ambitious missions including construction of a manned space station, deorbit under its own power, re-enter the atmosphere and and return to Earth, culminating in a graceful

glide and horizontal unpowered landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida or Edwards Air Force base in the Mojave Desert. The Space Transportation System consisted of several unique components:

Shuttle Orbiter

External Tank

Solid Rocket Boosters

Described as a space truck to hold crew and cargo with orbital maneuvering engines.

A massive container for liquid oxygen (lox) and liquid hydrogen, the fuel for the orbiter engines.

Two additional rockets to provide the initial thrust needed to lift-off the launch pad.

Credit: NASA

. . . like “bolting a butterfly to a bullet.” By the numbers, the shuttle stack was no bean pole. Empty, the shuttle orbiter weighed 165,000 lbs, its external tank 78,100 lbs, and the two SRBs, just 185lbs. Fueled, the ET added 1,359,000 lbs of lox and 226,000 lbs of liquid hydrogen, with another 2.2 million

pounds of solid fuel in the SRBs. All in, over 4.5 million pounds of fuel, hardware, and a few computers to lift just a few hundred pounds of man flesh into space. As one engineer put it, the STS assembly was like “bolting a butterfly to a bullet.”

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Launching the Shuttle

Launch Pad 39B

For an actual launch at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the STS required an incredible amount of infrastructure. This included the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where all three components were mated into the “shuttle stack� atop the Mobile Launcher Platform, the Crawler that transported the stack and platform to the launch pad, the launch pad itself that consisted of the Fixed and Rotating Service Structures, and all the coordination of various launch and mission control facilities.

Launch Pad 39A

The Vehicle Assembly Building

Above: Aerial view of Launch Complex 39 including the Vehicle Assembly Building, and Launch Pads 39A and B. 36 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)


ecause of its design, the shuttle stack and other rockets were prepared for launch in a vertical orientation. The VAB stands 526 feet above the Florida shoreline, capable of housing the Statue of Liberty, with room to spare. It is the largest single-story building in the world, and one of the

Credit: NASA

largest by volume; it even has its own clouds on humid days. The high bay hangar doors run most of the height of the building, taking a swift 45 minutes to fully open. The Vehicle Assembly Building also boasts the most level floor in the world to aid in assembly precision and the largest American Flag on its outer wall – each star the size of a basketball court, each stripe the width of a lane of highway.

Above: Outside the VAB during the Apollo Program and the interior, remodeled for the Space Transportation System (STS). Virgil Calejesan | 37

The Crawler-Transporter


n launch day, the shuttle stack and mobile launch platform (the same used to transport the rockets for the Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz programs) are positioned onto the Crawler-Transporter using a laser docking system for pinpoint accuracy. Once docked, the assembly is rolled out from the VAB aboard the Crawler-Transporter. So dubbed for its incredible land speed – 1 mph when loaded (or a roaring 2mph empty) – the Crawler weighs a whopping 6 million pounds, and requires a team of 30 engineers to operate. Because of the delicate

nature of the rockets, the Crawler is selfleveling to within 10 minutes of arc (about 1 foot), and capable of raising its rear section to compensate for the inclined ramp at the launch pad. The Crawler, which is actually a pair of tracked vehicles, rolls across a special road, the crawler-way, about as wide as an eight-lane highway, lined with a special sparkless gravel made from Alabama river rocks. Because of its unique purpose, the crawler-way was designed and reinforced to support up to 18 million pounds headed for launch. The Crawler was built by Rockwell International for $14 million each and upon its completion, was the largest self-powered vehicle in the world (Wikipedia, 2014).

Credit: NASA

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Credit: NASA

A Typical Launch Countdown


urtling a shuttle into space is a feat of coordination and begins long before the exhilarating t-minus 10 seoncds countdown. A few highlights: ~72 hours before launch: Call to stations goes out. T-43 hours and counting: Final tests are conducted, backups checked, and preliminary inspections of launch facilities are begun. T-19 hours and counting: By now, all non-essential personnel have been cleared from the launch area and the crew module has been cleaned and prepped. Final preparations are begun for the orbiter’s three main engines as well as the launch pad sound suppression system. T-6 hours and holding: Teams receive weather updates and confirm“launch commit criteria.” Crews begin “tanking” the External Tank with about 500,000 gallons of fuel.

T-3 hours and counting: Astronauts departsfor lauch pad and enter Orbiter. Crew dons additional safety gear and tests air-toground comms with Launch Control at KSC and Mission Control in Houston, TX. T-20 minutes and counting: NASA test director has conducted final briefings and all systems switch over to launch configuration T-9 minutes and counting: Final launch window has been determined, flight recorders turned on, and stations give their final Go/ No-Go recommendations. At T-7 minutes the orbiter access arm is retracted. At T-5 minutes, auxiliary units power up and the SRBs are armed. T-2 minutes, crew members lock their visors. T-50 seconds, transfer from ground to internal power. T-31 seconds, Ground launch sequencer is “go for auto sequence start. T-16 seconds, sound suppression activated on launch pad. T-6.6 seconds, main engine start. T-0 seconds, SRBs ignite, explosive bolts release boosters from pad, and “We have lift-off.” Virgil Calejesan | 39

Commercial Space Systems

Measuring Up

SS & Satellites I e h T | i m 0 3 2 / m k 370

Earth Orbit Begins 160 km / 99mi | Low


min Line 100 km / 62mi | Kar ndary for Space km / 50mi | US Bou

fic lane Traf 16 km / 10mi | Airp 40 | Space is Trying to Kill You


n just over two minutes, the shuttle travelled well beyond the Karman Line, the internationally accepted boundary of space, and in another 6, achieved low earth orbit (LEO),

the realm of the ISS and satellites. But with the retirement of the Shuttle Program, new providers are needed to fill the void. The question to them: How far up are they willing to go?

Orbital Flight Flight Most human technology in space, including the International Space Station, communication satellites, and the Hubble Telescope are in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Because LEO just beyond the pull of Earth’s gravity, it is the most cost-effective altitude to position an object and maintain its path around the planet. Anywhere below LEO and objects will suffer orbital decay and eventually fall back to Earth. With the exception of the manned lunar flights of the Apollo program, all human spaceflights have taken place in LEO or were suborbital (Wikipedia, 2014).

vs. Sub-Orbital Space Flight In sub-orbital space flight, a craft reaches space, but returns to atmosphere or ground before making one orbital revolution. The first manned space capsules flew sub-orbital, as well as the X-15 , one of the earliest rocket planes to cross the edge of space. Current offerings for space travel include mostly sub-orbital trajectories, with a few Orbital options at a significant cost increase (and travel to Russia).

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Credit: William Attard McCarthy

Commercial Space Systems

Measuring Up

Traditional Rockets

Reusable Launch Veh

Tried and true, rockets deliver the necessary thrust, capacity and altitude for versatile payload and crew capsule delivery into space. Though in their infancy, commercial providers like SpaceX and Boeing continue to make significant progress on NASA milestones for spaceflight certification.

RLVs represent the next stag Though the Dream Chaser and S launch vehicle, all three, includ land under their own power, m cost effective.

Credit: Sierra Nevada

Credit: Bionic

Credit: SpaceX

Company Exposure to Space Beyond Karmin Line Lift-Off Thrust Cost to Orbit Human Rated Accessibility

Falcon 9 Heavy & Dragon Capsule

Delta IV Heavy & Orion Capsule

Atlas V Rocket & Dream Chaser

SpaceX Low Earth Orbit yes ~4mil lbf (x15 747s) ~$1300 /lb In Progress NASA, Commercial & Scientific Clientele

Boeing & ULA Low Earth Orbit yes 2.1mil lbf (x7 747s) ~$8600 /lb In Progress NASA, Commercial & Scientific Clientele

United Launch Alliance Low Earth Orbit yes 285,500 lbf ~$6600 /lb (est.) In Progress NASA, Commercial & Scientific Clientele

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Virgin Sub-O plann 60,00 ~$2,2 In Pro Open


s the Shuttle was retired, a new program began to transition transport of cargo and crew to private providers. The goals: to increase competition and lower

hicles (RLVs)

costs, encourage innovation, broader industry participation, and new markets for travel, tourism and experimentation. Interested in spaceflight? Here are a few new rides:

High-Altitude Balloons

ge in crew capsule evolution. SpaceshipTwo require a separate ding the Lynx rocketplane can making them reusable and more

Though enormous in size , helium-filled balloons represent significant cost savings over rocket-powered flight and much longer exposure to high-altitude. One major drawback: current balloon tech tops out at ~36km (118,000 ft), well short of the Karmin Line at 100km. No astronaut wings for these travelers.

Credit: Paragon Aerospace

Credit: Zero2Infinity

Credit:Virgin Galactic


n Galactic Orbital, ~6min ned 00 lbf 200 /lb (est.) ogress n to Public

Credit: XCOR

Lynx Rocketplane XCOR Sub-Orbital, ~6min planned 11,600 lbf In Development In Progress Open to Public

Bloon & Crew Capsule

Paragon Aerospace Balloon & Capsule

Zero2Infinity “Near-Space”, ~2 hrs no n/a (helium-based) ~$680 /lb (est.) In Progress Open to Public

World View “Near-Space”, ~2 hrs no n/a (helium-based) In Development In Progress Open to Public Virgil Calejesan | 43

ACT 3.

SURVIVING YOUR DECISION TO GO Characters: An EVA Space Suit An IVA Space Suit 44 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Credit: Laughing Squid

So commercial space travel – It’s trending. You’re beginning to believe it could be a thing. But you may also be thinking: “Space sounds so ridiculously dangerous, it’s almost hilarious. And it’s reasonably safe inside a spacecraft, right? So why would I want to travel into space in the first place and why in the world would I want to actually go outside?” The answer lies in another question: “What if Space wants to come in?”

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f you ask most people about space suits, the first thing that comes to mind is NASA’s white “michelin man” – the original on the Moon, and its descendants updated for the International Space Station and the recently-retired Shuttle program. This suit is intended specifically for EVA, or extra-vehicular activity, which, the rest of us refer to as spacewalking. To date, walking in space is, hands-down, one of the raddest activity ever dreamed up by man. It does however, involve significant cost –about $20 million per suit and approximately

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$20,000 per hour based on some fuzzy math from what the Russians charged NASA in 2004 for 500 hours of labor – and an enormous amount of complexity for protecting its wearer, for user mobility, life support, waste management, transporting the suit itself, training to use the suit, auxiliary crew support, general maintenance, on-the-fly troubleshooting and actual in-use physical stamina (a spacewalk can last up to 8 hours!). For those reasons, and many more, it’s a likely bet EVA will remain the purview of government trained astronauts in the near future. But there are other kinds of space suits.

Credit: sexpex

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Russian Sokol Suit

Credit: Red Bull


he history of the Space program includes several tragedies that influenced the safety protocols of NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos – namely the requirement for wearing space suits. These are IVA suits, short for intra-vehicular activity, worn during potentially dangerous portions of a mission – including launch, docking and reentry maneuvers – and intended for use only within aircraft (more on that later). If you’re a fan of the airforce, then you’re familiar with the “partial-pressure suits” worn by pilots

of the U2 and SR-71 and other ultra-high altitude craft. If you’re a fan of space, then also know the shuttle program’s close cousin, NASA’s ACES “Pumpkin Suit”, colored international orange like the Golden Gate Bridge, or Felix Baumgartner’s white Stratos suit, or the Russian Sokol suit worn by astronauts aboard the Soyuz or more spectacularly, Sandra Bullock’s character in Gravity (not pictured). While varied in name and design, all IVA space suits are specified for one primary purpose: survival.

Damaged heatshield tile on STS-118 flown by orbiter Endeaovpr

Credit: NASA

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U2 Partial-Pressure Suit

Credit: Warner Bros.

Imagine you’re piloting an Air Force X-craft or the Shuttle, or riding aboard any of the future spacecraft described earlier. Imagine you’re beyond the Karmin Line (100km), and you can feel the g-forces piling up, the rush of adventure, and the wonder of Earth’s gravity slowly losing its hold on you. Then imagine a small hole forming in the spacecraft cabin, tearing to the size of a grapefruit, and how, in a matter of minutes, all the air drains out into the near-vacuum outside. You are experiencing a rapid, or


Credit: NASA

worse, explosive cabin depressurization. The lack of pressure will cause nitrogen to escape from your tissues, causing you to double over in pain. Surface liquid on your skin boils off, and you can’t breathe because there isn’t enough air. It’s cold, the Sun is blinding above the clouds. You have about 30 seconds before you pass out from hypoxia. Maybe the aircraft is no longer stable and you need to exit. You’re falling, the ship is falling; tumbling, disoriented. For the moment, your’e alive. Now what?

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opefully, for your sake, your spaceflight provider required space suits, because an IVA suit is essentially a portable spacecraft for one. In the event of a rapid deco(mpression), an

emergency egress scenario, a crash, or other “off-nominal” scenario, an IVA space suit provides the following protection (depending on its configuration, as appropriate to your flight profile):

• An air-tight, pressurized environment to compensate for any changes in external pressure

• A helmet to protect your head from impact and debris and a visor assembly to manage light and maintain unobstructed vision

• Air to breathe while you find your way safely back down • A means of temperature management achieved by a garment worn against the skin for cooling and sweat, and outer protective layers to reflect the sun, insulate the body, or shed excess heat • Gloves to protect your hands, while enabling mobility and dexterity for performing safety measures • Larger mobility joints to enable general body movement (sitting, standing, bending, reaching, etc) • Built-in communications

• Possibly a small supply of water and food and survival gear • Possibly on-board mobile computing and emergency beacon • Room on the suit to accommodate auxiliar equipment such as a parachute, personal floation device, wilderness survival gear, and 1st aid. • For the wildest situations, bail out capability (i.e. sufficient protection to consider exiting your space craft, possibly from at high-altitude)

In short, space suits are your last line of defense against a disastrous, unexpected visit from outer space.

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Credit: Red Bull

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ACT 4.

UNDERSTANDING WHY SPACE MATTERS Characters: Planet Earth Every One of Us 52 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Credit: NASA

So why do it? Why spend the time, money, and effort on developing space suits (and space craft) just to risk the danger, destruction and likely death that space so willingly offers? Just because we can, doesn’t mean, we should go to Space, right? Perhaps it’s a question of scale.

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Credit: NASA

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he question of why should we go as individuals is a very different discussion from why we should go as a species. If we just wanted to claim operations in space, mine some resources and perhaps add some more diversity to the economy, then we could just send robots. But we didn’t just send robots – which is safe, and tested, and though expensive, expendable. We sent humans. Why? Why go to all this hassle for, what sounds like, either a needless adrenaline rush for the privileged (crazy) few or an incredibly expensive science experiment?

The Question of Why

In the following pages, a few reasons why:

Credit: NASA

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1) Because space travel is inspiring. Yale Professor Robert W. Mellette, in his syllabus for Space Shuttle Science, describes the Space Program as “spectacular. It has a cast of thousands, impressive sets, heroes and drama. We can and should use it to help make our curriculum more exciting for today’s student.” There you go. What better reason than education? Certainly most everyone can agree that one of the pillars of a successful society is education and if space can be used as a means of engaging the student mind, then that alone is justification, no?

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Credit: NASA

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2) Because space travel inspires innovation. Will Pomerantz, VP at Virgin Galactic, in a recent hangout on Google+, provided numerous reasons for why space. Among them: • Too few humans have ever gone to space: 542 • Among that 542, there’s been too little diversity in age, physicality, and education. They’re all more of less the same demographic –trained, peak condition, astronaut scientists. • That group should be expanded to include more of us citizens, such as politicians, storytellers, educators and others, to communicate what they see in their travels; to increase our understandung our planet when we look back and to spot opportunities as we gaze beyond.

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Credit:Virgin Galactic

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o that, I add technology. One of the single most important aspects of space travel, are the things we bring back. Here is just a brief excerpt of the thousands of spinoff technologies that space has helped inspire, further develop, or invent altogether:

The complementary metal– oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) used in nearly all areas of modern electronics including computers, cameras, vehicles, and mobile technology, especially prized for their small size and efficient use of energy.

Satellites for GPS navigation, weather & climate monitoring, television, telephone communications, military communications, and some networking aspects of THE INTERNET

Aerogel, a seemingly magic gel, where the liquid component is replaced with gas, earning it the nickname “frozen smoke”. Among its many applications include chemical spill clean up, light-weight thermal insulation, and bio-compatible drugdelivery.

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The light-emitting diode (LED), developed for use in NASA plant growth experiments

Memory foam used in mattresses, athletic gear, and seating of all kinds

The artificial heart pump, derived from fuel pump technology on the Shuttle

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n addition, NASA sponsors the transfer of specialized software developed for space vehicles and operations: “Our design software has been used to make everything from guitars to roller coasters to Cadillacs,” Technology Transfer Program executive David Lockney told Wired. “Scheduling software that keeps the Hubble Space Telescope operations straight has been used for scheduling MRIs at busy hospitals and as control algorithms for online dating services.” The term spinoff itself is closely associated with the space program, it’s use beginning in the 1950’s when the Space Act of 1958 officially established NASA. Thanks to the Space program, we also get the extremely popular hyperbolic declaration “Houston we have a problem” and the idiom “Screw the Pooch”, purportedly utilized by Yale graduate John Rawlings, who helped design the first space suits and send the first American astronauts, chimps, into space.

More simply put: Traveling to space has been very very good for us. The point I’m trying to make here is that traveling to space is not some obscure indulgence for the exclusive few. It is not some niche business with dubious relevance to those “left behind” on Earth. No. Traveling to space has been one of our greatest well springs of knowledge and advancement. Since the inception of the world’s space programs, this niche business has proved itself a highly-productive, incredibly generous force behind a staggering number of ubiquitous technologies that our modern survival depends upon. This niche business is the world’s research and development arm that enables the very lives we live today. More simply put: Traveling to space has been very very good for us. Credit: NASA

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3) Because space is in our DNA. Carl Sagan, famed astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, and space exploration advocate, said in his show, The Cosmos: “The nitrogen in our DNA... The calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” It’s a crazy, circular thought, no? The Universe was created. What was in the universe, eventually created us. And we, in turn, create technology to explore and understand the Universe. The caption to this image reads: You are the Universe, experiencing itself. How fitting.

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Credit: Huckberry

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4) Because space is in the American DNA. ‘Several artifacts from the nation’s efforts to explore space are included on the list in Smithsonian Magazine’s special issue, “101 Objects That Made America.” The list’s contents were “drawn from the 137 million artifacts held by the 19 museums and research centers of the Smithsonian Institution” and the spacesuit that Armstrong wore as he became the first man to walk on the moon is highlighted on the magazine’s cover (’ Of the 101 Objects chosen, that made America, a space suit received top billing. “It is a testament to the extraordinary cultural significance of spaceflight... that spacesuits attract far more attention than the parkas, snow shoes, flight jackets, and even pressure-suits and “crash helmets” of Earth-and-air-bound explorers,” says Allan Needell, PhD, Curator of Human spaceflight (Apollo) at the National Air and Space Museum. The reasons are clear: Space travel embodies the American spirit, rugged individualism, overstepping our boundaries, and defining new horizons. Space travel is as part of the American pysche alongside the cowboy and the car, and, perhaps even approaching the king of Americana: cold, refreshing, some-say-watery, American beer.

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5) Because we were born explorers In the most recent of the Star Trek franchise, Enterprise, the opening sequence consists of a montage of all the world’s explorers, from the earliest ships to Columbus, to the Wright Brothers, our first experimental high-altitude pilots, our first astronauts, the Moon Landing, and fictionally, our first interstellar spacecraft. The sequence makes a simple statement: that our exploration of space started here on Earth, and has been steadily progressing from the moment we climbed down from the trees. William S. Burroughs, known by his pen name William Lee, “American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer” ( puts it eloquently: “Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.” Even without any individual interest in space, we, as a species are all bound for it. Just like the internet, whether you use it or not, love it or hate it, you’re in it, the “age of connectivity” – it is a context, not just a tool. We are entering a context of space travel; a framework that will inform all of our lives, how we live them out, and maybe even, where we live them.

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ACT 5.


Characters: A Designer A Startup Space Suit Company 70 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Credit: NASA

So space travel. It’s a thing. And we’ll need space suits to play there. Imagine, if you will, the experience of creating an outfit that’s never been made, from material that’s never been manufactured, for a place we’ve never been to, with technology that’s never been developed, to a distance we’ve never traveled, in a time frame that’s never been conceived of, with no clear method to get there, no certainty you’d return, no idea of cost, capability, or likely success… NASA’s reply: Challenge accepted. Now that is the kind of mentality I want to be part of. Virgil Calejesan | 71

Credit: Popular Science

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Final A Frontier Design

Credit: Popular Science

s my initial foray, I have been collaborating with Final Frontier Design (FFD), based in Brooklyn, on a selection of products that makeup an astronaut’s space suit system. These include the critical “pressure garment” layer of the space suit and its outside, protective “cover garment” as well as auxiliary components: a cooling unit, a case for stowage, and methods for storing gear on and/or attaching gear to the suit.

Left: Nikolay Moiseev, Lead Engineer and Designer Above: Ted Southern, President and Designer

Each piece has been a learning experience for me and to an extent, an exercise in familiarizing myself with the engineering as well as the significance to the survival of the wearer. For my thesis, I focused on five efforts that built cumulatively on each other, allowing me greater and deeper understanding as I progressed.

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The 3G A Suit Manual

s mentioned earlier, there are two kinds of suits: IVA and EVA. At FFD, we do develop components for EVA space suits – for advanced applications such as spacewalks and maybe one day, planetary exploration – but our primary focus has been on IVA. Particularly, the 3rd generation, 3G Suit we built in the office during my first semester there. I spent the first few months learning how to use our suit and transferring that knowledge into the Owners Manual and Log. It’s own mission is to familiarize the Owner with the suit’s features and functionality, as well as provide detailed checklists for proper, safe use. And through this familiarity, demystify the initial complexity a space suit might impart. I continue to edit that manual today.

3G Suit Manual & Passport

Final Frontier Design

Brooklyn Navy Yard 63 Flushing Avenue, Unit 163 Building 280, Ste 522 Brooklyn, NY 11205 United States

Ted Southern Nikolay Moiseev

Final Frontier Design

Credit:FFD FFD Credit:

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Credit: FFD

An incredible aid to those edits has been live testing. Testing that I’ve had the great fortune to participate in, involving a number of scenarios directly related to highaltitude flight. These live scenarios included several highfidelity commercial flight simulators with a trained experimental test pilot, a glider to evaluate the potential for high-altitude flight, several F-104 Starfighters, some of the earliest super-sonic jets, and a hypobaric chamber in Florida that has been on standby use during numerous Space Shuttle launches

These scenarios present us with invaluable opportunities to test our checklists for preparation, donning and doffiing. They also aid in evaluating mobility in various confined spaces, ensuring operational capability during prolonged use, and balancing comfort and health as well. Such testing is a sanity check for us, that we are communicating effectively to someone less experienced, and that we’ve designed a suit that’s not only functional for each specific use, but versatile enough to fit many. Going from airliner, to glider, to jet was ample initial confirmation. Virgil Calejesan | 75

Sizing and T Restraint Buckle

his emphasis on versatility I came to learn is integral in the 3G Suit design, particularly its sizing feature – something few suits have without the necessity of added parts. In this case, I worked on the buckles that create the joints on the arms and at the knees. The buckles have kevlar cords running through them, some of which can be adjusted to change the position of these joints, and therenu, the overall length of the limb. This is highly significant because our suit is intended for commercial space travel. If the general public is

Credit: FFD

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going to fly, that means the suit needs to fit many more kinds of body types –both in height and circumferences – beyond predictablysized astronauts in prime fitness and, shall we say, recommended-diet compliance. One thing to keep in mind, is that when a space suit is filled with air to simulate some of Earth’s atmosphere on our bodies to keep us alive, the pressure in the suit also makes it expand in all directions. Dr. Joseph P. Kerwin, a Skylab astronaut and the Apollo program “suit guy,” likens the experience to “working inside of a sausage... the whole trick in designing a space suit was to make it easier to move the joints inside that inflated balloon.” So not only do these buckles need to adjust, they

also need to withstand hundreds of pounds of force due to internal pressurization.. To address this challenge, I looked to a climber’s harness for inspiration. Similar to our kevlar restraints, a harness must both easily adjust and hold fast when loaded. This is achieved by feeding the strap through the buckle and then doubling it back on itself which locks the system in place. Simple, yet effective. It’s worth noting such minimalist elegance depends highly on tolerance and geometry. My 8th iteration in the office is only about a fourth of the way there to being deployment-ready.

Opposite Page: Testing extremes in user dimensions against sizing capabilities of FFD 3G Suit Left: Testing prototype 3D-printed restraint buckle under heavy loading

Credit: FFD

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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Credit: FFD

Above: Proposed radiation protection applied to CubeSat technology.

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As the buckles remain in development, so does our space suit overall. Despite a solid 60+ years of design and innovation, space suits are still quite immature, in large part due to its limited number of users and relatively narrow scope of operation. So what that means for me, and companies like Final Frontier Design, is that in addition to understanding the current suit, the work entails constant research & development into future design solutions. A welcome challenge, and wonderful opportunity indeed.

To that end, I’ve been involved in several proposals for NASA’s SBIR funding including an investigation into radiation protection for manned and unmanned applications where I provided diagrams describing our designs, and a proposed solution for advanced space suit gloves relying on Mechanical Counter Pressure – physical compression – instead of the traditional air pressure of current space suits. The latter effort involved extensive resarch on the topic and several more key diagrams.

Credit: FFD

Above: Innovative MCP space suit glove design

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Material and Pattern

Seeing the suit in action, and taking a moment to look forward inspired in me many questions on the future of space suits. How can we protect the critical pressure garment? What should this outer layer look like? What materials should they be made out of and what should it feel like? Should we depart from traditional aesthetics and explore new materials and patterns? And if so, how do we remain faithful to what has become the language of space? To date, the “form” of a space suit has been a direct embodiment of its function. If you look at a pressure garment, the mobility joints make up the majority of the surface area, and in between, semi-cylindrical pieces to house the torso, limbs, and feet. There is, of course, the helmet, essentially a sphere, and highly intricate sections for the wrists and hands that are almost entirely made up of intersecting joints. The net result is a beautiful homage to the ingenious design of the human body. As one survey respondent put it, space suits “fashionable because it’s cool to be an astronaut – the trade makes the clothes of the trade cool. But that should only ever be a side effect of functionality.” I agree. Functionality for space suits is essential, but as we move forward, into a world of commercial space travel, there is the option, perhaps need, to consider fashion. I believe it is inevitable if we are to open the business of space travel to the general public. It’s simply what we do. We personalize. We want our possessions to reflect us; we want our personal possessions to have personality. And therefore, why not space fashion? As long as there is no compromise on safety, it is something the public will want, and yet another avenue to flex one’s creative impulse. The cover layer of the suit presents this very opportunity. It is a layer that goes over the

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pressure garment and though it helps maintain mobility, it is not as constrained by the complex engineering of the pressure garment underneath. The cover layer has room for fashion. To that end, I designed four arms. My bosses began the company with a hand, but an arm provided me ample room to begin envisioning the entire cover layer. I assembled a linen one to test visual language, questioning whether the pattern shape alone could read “space” though the material said “beach.” The blue, insulated arm examined

bulk; what did shape and thickness do to the already technical feel of a space suit arm. I chose yellow for the third arm, simular in color to a high-altitude flight suit, to see whether a slight tweak – a grippy light blue elbow – could distinguish the arm from it’s more earthly cousin. Finally I built the gray arm with plaid contrast as a stretch, both in look and feel; to see how far I could go from traditional space material, texture, and visual pattern and still maintain the space reference. I won’t lie; making arms is pretty exciting.

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Two Cover Layers

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So exciting, I decided to spend my Spring semester with FFD exploring a complete cover garment for the suit, the outermost layer and the most public facing. I began with some rudimentary sketching and, for proof of concept, quickly moved on to making. We built one in the office, with an emphasis on technical performance. And a second, in collaboration with a professional sample maker to explore how far we could take this suit’s personality.

High Denier Reinforced Shoulder Reduces typical wear and abrasion from harnesses, parachutes, and other auxiliary equipment.

Cover G

ent pm lo



nt Dev me e ar

Raglan Style Sleeve & Arm Hole Complements underlying pressure layer shoulder joint to ensure proper range of motion and ease of movement.

Mission Patch & ID Velcro Predictable location for Mission Patch, Operator ID, or other identifying information.

Reinforced Hardware Pass Throughs Reduces seam wear from donning and doffing cover garment

Separate Upper Lower Assemblies Increases speed of donning and doffing and manufacture, while facilitating sizing of cover layer to underyling pressure garment.

Multi-Use Velcro Anchor Designated area for adhering gear, flight manuals, mobile computing, etc for easy access & reference.

Reflective Interaction Points Consistent styling for access flaps, pockets, and closures

Pleated Joint Construction Provides for ample range of motion while managing excess drape. Also reduces pattern complexity and overall cost of cover garment manufacture.

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nd then, sample in hand, I unveiled our spaceman to the public – partly as performance, partly to understand what kind of reception an experimental cover garment might have. Would it read as a space suit system? Would it tell a different story from the various Apollo suit stunts that have taken place before us? Would the pubic understand it? And would they like it? It was a resounding yes. (Check out the video proof on YouTube by searching “Virgil Calejesan” or “Spaceman”)

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ACT 6.

THE PROMISE OF THE NEWSPACE INDUSTRY Characters: The Entire World 86 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Eight months into this journey, I’ve been humbled by a singular fact: space suits are complex. But they also embody considerable genius and represent enormous opportunity for a future where space travel is the new norm.

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The L NASA Standard

ast year, just beginning my job at FFD, reading up on fundamental NASA standards and guidelines suddenly became very relevant. (In case you’re up for some hot tech-speak, they’re easily accessed here: slsd/about/divisions/hefd/standards/index. html). The key document is the “NASA-STD-3000” that specifies “how to design systems to support human health, safety, and productivity during space flight.” Quite recently, it was superseded by the NASASTD-3001 because the STD-3000 was found to be too narrow, only applicable to existing programs (i.e. the now-retired shuttle program, the International Space Station, etc.). That’s a very important distinction here. Most of my life, I’ve thought of outer space travel as “Oh yeah, didn’t we go there in the 60’s; transport and build a few things in the 80’s and 90’s?” – something in our nation’s past, for only the select few. But if you read through all 262 pages of the new STD-3001 and hundreds of the other topic-specific STDs, there are three major takeaways for me: 1. Space exploration is 100% happening today. 2. NASA is committed to developing the means to enable all mankind’s existence in Space, not just the world’s astronauts. and 3. There may even be a chance, albeit small, that in our lifetimes, we may see the beginnings of actual, permanent space habitation.

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NASA TECHNICAL STANDARD National Aeronautics and Space Administration Washington, D.C. 20546-0001

Approved: 03-05-2007 Expiration Date: 03-05-2012

Superseding NASA-STD-3000, Vol. 1, Chapter 7 and JSC 26882, Space Flight Health Requirements Document




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he way I see it, NASA’s STDs are not obscure guidebooks, but rather, invitations for all to learn and join in.

It is major takeaway #1 that is most interesting and concrete to me. If you hit some of the top points in STD-3001, you realize NASA has spent the last 60 years poking, prodding, measuring, prototyping,

Above: NASA Astronaut exercising on the ISS

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simulating, and live-testing everything conceivable, to facilitate and enhance our ability to exist in Space. And not only exist, but thrive. As expected, NASA has recommendations on diet, exercise, sleep schedules, and work. But they also have metrics on seemingly obscure things like the recommended smell and taste

of water and sufficient free time to spend observing Earth and other activities necessary for maintaining the human psychology. There’s also suggestions on lighting, layout of controls and screens, recommended text sizes, reading angles, diversity of activity – humans like choice – as well as the rate of change to these activities to avoid boredom and the associated drops in productivity and quality.

Every aspect of astronaut daily life has been specified for optimal mission success, which is directly contingent on maximizing personal health and performance. To put it another way, if we are to successfully live in Space, it is in our best interest to master the balance between the mind, body, and soul.

Above: NASA food and tray from Skylab

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Human W Centered

hich brings me to this interesting idea: If our first colonies and societies adhere to this idea of mission-critical balance and health; if the architects, designers, engineers, and project leads of today follow such standards for the spacecraft, habitats, and procedural policy of tomorrow, we, as a spacefaring species, could conceivably have a genuine opportunity to create a new baseline for society – A new norm, informed by thousands of years of mistakes (and solutions) discovered here on Earth, that, if done so with commitment and in earnest, could very possibly prototype one of the holy grails our field has lusted for on Earth: human centered design (HCI). And by no means am I the first to hint at such an implication – for future space travel and for our planet, today. A recent article on touches on this very topic: Carl Conlee, one of three designers at NASA’s Habitability Design Center (HDC), has an interesting perspective. He sees all the technology NASA has developed as directly applicable to improving life on Earth. “As excited as I am to be working on stuff that will travel to the moon, I would rather see us focus all of these resources and great minds to bring the efficiency that has been developed and refined in the spacecraft to Earth: Essentially, you have a small life support system where you recycle as much as you can with minimal waste and have localized energy production. It’s an awesome model for living. We have people who don’t have fresh clean water and are dying of dysentery, and technology NASA has developed can recycle wastewater into potable water. The population is always growing, and we’re constantly fighting for space. This problem is not going to go away, and one obvious answer is to be more efficient with the space we have. This is a great model—sort of an extreme model, but an applicable one.”

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Sound familiar?

Above: NASA diagram of neutral body posture (NBP) in microgravity

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ccording to its wikipedia entry, the idea of Earth as a ship, as “Spaceship Earth”, is a ‘“a world view term usually expressing concern over the use of limited resources available on Earth and encouraging everyone on it to act as a harmonious crew working toward the greater good” (’. It’s earliest use is in 1879 by Henry George’s “Progress and Poverty” describing our planet as “a well-provisioned ship, this on which we sail through space.” In 1965 Adlai Stevenson made a famous speech to the UN in which he said: We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave—to the ancient enemies of man— half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all.” Buckminster Fuller also took up the flag, publishing his “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.” This passage in particular highlights the importance of energy conservation: “...we can make all of humanity successful through science’s world-engulfing industrial evolution provided that we are not so foolish as to continue to exhaust in a split second of astronomical history the orderly energy savings of billions of 94 | Space is Trying to Kill You

NASA’s famed Earthrise photo taken during Apollo 8 , Dec 24.

years’ energy conservation aboard our Spaceship Earth. These energy savings have been put into our Spaceship’s life-regeneration-guaranteeing bank account for use only in self-starter functions.”’ It’s quite ironic too, that for many astronauts, going out into the great beyond, the biggest impact comes from looking back down. Astronaut Bill Anders, mused recently for the New York Times that “(a)fter all the training and studying we’d done as pilots and engineers to get to the moon safely and get back, [and] as human beings to explore moon orbit,” he said, “what we really discovered was the planet Earth.” This world view is often invoked when astronauts speak of the Overview Effect. As described on the Overview Institute website, it is ‘a phrase coined in the book of the same name by space philosopher and writer Frank White. It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, hanging in the void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us become less important and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative. Even more so, many of them tell us that from the Overview perspective, all of this seems imminently achievable, if only more people could have the experience!’ If only more people could have the experience. Virgil Calejesan | 95

ZeroG Corporation

New A Players

classmate of mine once commented, “You will always hear about Space in stories because few ever experience it first hand.� That is an absolute tragedy. Nothing so amazing, fascinating, and potentially transformational should be so untouchable by the very people it could affect. Fortunately for us all, that is beginning to change. As of today, there are over 200 aerospace manufacturers, travel providers, research institutes,

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member affiliations, and advocacy groups that make up “NewSpace.” Blandly put by “NewSpace is an emerging global industry of private companies and entrepreneurs who primarily serve commercial customers, are backed by risk capital seeking a return, and profit from innovative products or services developed in or for space” (NewSpace Global). Wikipedia paints a more exciting, comprehensive picture, describing it as an “umbrella terms for a movement and philosophy often affiliated with, but not synonymous with, an emergent private spaceflight industry. Specifically, the terms are used to refer to a community of relatively new aerospace companies working to develop low-

cost access to space or spaceflight technologies and advocates of low-cost spaceflight technology and policy.” There are at least 10 major players dedicated to manned commercial space flight alone, not to mention the myriad companies hauling cargo, satellites, robots, and all the other materials and resources we need to establish a lasting space economy. I liken it to the beginnings of the airline industry; not long after the first flights, but well before flight became a commodity. I see this same beginning for NewSpace as a major opportunity for consumers at large, and for the design community in particular.

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New I Variables

f you look at space as an equation, you have the formula & the product. If you limit yourself to NASA-style left-side variables – spacecraft, launch systems, training facilities, mission constraint, etc – then you are naturally limited to NASAstyle products. Yes, amazing for humanity; with absolute certainty, beneficial, but they’re all still exclusive to astronauts.

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If, however, you focus on defining the kinds of experiences you want from Space, the stuff on the right side of the equation, you free up the left side to all kinds of new variables. And this is a designer’s paradise. What kinds of flights and missions would consumers at large want in outer space? If given the choice, what kinds Credit:Virgil Galactic

of furniture, lighting, sound, food, beverages, habitats, structures, and services would we devise? Can you imagine the spacecraft? Imagine the dining experiences, the variety of entertainment, the sheer novelty of movement and existence in microgravity. What about new places to vacation? New activities to exercise and exhilarate. What about the simple fact of having a new direction to travel in (way up)? New speeds, new sounds (or lack thereof?). New tastes to fit the new context; new perspective on familiar flavors too. What about fashion, new sights and sounds bespoke to space; new fabrics and surfaces, new tactile experiences in general. Imagine the new stories we would tell. That is the promise of the NewSpace industry: To help write the next chapters of the grand story that NASA helped start. That is why over 100,000 people applied to MarsOne to be the first to travel to Mars. That is why astronaut candidates will regain the chance to travel aboard American transport providers and even have a choice of rockets thanks to diverse participation in the Commerical Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. That is why there are already 2 inflatable habitats being tested in orbit by Bigelow Aerospace, why there exist over 35 airfields already designated as spaceports and why, in 2007, the state of New Mexico approved a special tax to fund the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, to launch Virgin Galactic’s inaugural flights. That is why over 500 people have already purchased their tickets for Virgin, another 800+ with XCOR, and hundreds more ready to fly with high-altitude balloons. Humans are ready for space. Virgil Calejesan | 99

ACT 7.


Characters: All the Future Space Travelers 100 | Space is Trying to Kill You

Credit: FFD

So here’s the point I’m trying to make. This is the big secret: Space isn’t trying to kill you. Space is inviting us to be greater, to expand our entire being out into it, to advance, to grow, to learn, and to master ourselves for the adventure that lies beyond and that space holds in promise for us – just outside our first home’s front door. Space promises us new life. We just need to go and out get it. Until then, fellow future space traveler, if you’re headed for our greatest adventure, I leave you with this mission: Dress appropriately.

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The End

Outer Space is Trying to Kill You : A Master's Thesis  
Outer Space is Trying to Kill You : A Master's Thesis  

A dabbling in the many facets of manned space travel.