Courtesy NASALast night, the space shuttle Endeavor blasted off from Cape Canaveral last night on the final scheduled shuttle mission for 2008. It’s headed for the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) where three astronauts are living at the moment. By next spring NASA plans to have six astronauts living there, so some changes are in order.
But like everyone else, it looks like NASA has also been hit by the world’s current economic downturn because instead of just buying or building a bigger space station the agency is going to do some “home improvements” on the existing structure. And they’re not even hiring out – they’re doing all the work themselves. Boy times are really tough.
Along with a crew of seven, Endeavor is hauling up two bedroom additions, a kitchen expansion, and a second bathroom. Okay it’s just a toilet but with plans for more astronauts to be crammed into the ISS, another toilet is a must. And here’s something that’s interesting: the shuttle’s also bringing up a water regeneration system that will be used to convert waste water – including urine – into fresh drinking water. I guess that will save some money, but ewwwww.
Courtesy NASABesides the new additions, regular maintenance and repairs have to be made, too. Some of Endeavor’s astronauts will be heading outside for those. One of them will be St. Paul native Heidi Stefanyshyn-Piper who will space walk the exterior to make repairs to the space station’s solar power panels. While she’s out there she might as well clean the gutters, too.
Well, good luck to them. I know finding a good contractor isn’t easy but doing your own home improvements and repairs can be very trying. It’s time-consuming, cause for frustration and lots of swearing, always ends up costing more than you thought, and if the NASA crew members are anything like me, they better plan on making a whole bunch of extra trips to the hardware store.