Jam-packed ISS astronauts 'strapping themselves to walls to sleep' as beds run out after Elon Musk delays SpaceX descent

ASTRONAUTS living on the space station are being forced to endure cramped sleeping arrangements.

That's because Nasa on Thursday delayed a flight that was due to take four of the 11 current crew members back to Earth.

The nervy descent onboard a SpaceX capsule was scheduled to begin today but has now been suspended indefinitely.

It means the ISS, which orbits 250 miles (400km) above Earth, will remain jam-packed for at least a couple more days while Nasa and SpaceX figure out a new departure time.

The 11 astronauts and cosmonauts onboard make up the largest crew in a decade.

Poor weather conditions at the landing zone near Florida forced flight controllers to postpone the Crew-1 return mission for the second time this week.

Nasa had originally planned to carry out the 24-hour ride on Wednesday but pushed it back to April 30 due to blustery conditions.

Four astronauts are due to take part in the flight: Nasa's Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker alongside Soichi Noguchi of Japan's space agency, Jaxa.

"Mission teams from Nasa and SpaceX will meet again on Friday to further review opportunities for the safe return of Crew-1," Nasa said in a statement.

"Crew Dragon is in great health on the space station, and teams will continue to look for the optimal conditions for both splashdown and recovery."

Jaxa confirmed in a statement that a new flight schedule would be announced "once it is determined".

That makes sleeping arrangements a little awkward, as the orbiting space lab only has seven sleeping pods.

Two crew members have been forced to bunk in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsules currently docked to the station.

A further two are having to improvise by strapping their sleeping bags to the walls within one of the maze-like craft's numerous compartments.

"The nice thing about sleeping in space is that just about anywhere can be your bedroom," Nasa spokesman Dan Huot said last week.

Limited sleeping space isn't the only reason the ISS is a little too cramped for comfort.

Upon arrival at the station last November, the Crew-1 team made up four of seven occupants.

Walker explained at the time that the burgeoning crew meant astronauts were forced to line up for gym equipment.

"One of the big things we have to be more mindful of is the scheduling of everything, especially the exercise equipment," Walker said.

"We all have to exercise every day and it’s hugely important.

"There are much tighter schedules associated with the equipment which give us less flexibility in the rest of our day."

The ISS is more crowded than usual following the arrival of four astronauts last week as part of SpaceX's successful Crew-2 mission.

A Crew Dragon capsule lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida on April 23.

The mission marked the second "operational" space station team to be launched by Nasa aboard a SpaceX vehicle since the United States resumed flying astronauts into space from US soil last year.

Astronauts had flown to orbit onboard Russian rockets during a nine-year hiatus at the end of the US space shuttle program in 2011.

It was also the third crewed flight launched to orbit under Nasa's fledgling public-private partnership with SpaceX, the rocket company founded and owned by billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.

What is SpaceX?

Here’s what you need to know…

SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.

It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX's first aim was to build rockets that can autonomously land back on Earth for refurbishment and re-use.

The technology makes launching and operating space flights more efficient, and therefore cheaper.

SpaceX currently uses its reusable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa.

It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various government agencies and multinational companies.

The company took astronauts to the ISS for the first time in 2020.

Other future missions involve carrying tourists to the ISS and astronauts to the Moon and Mars.

Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.

He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet by 2027.

The first was an out-and-back test mission carrying just two astronauts into orbit last May.

The Crew-2 team includes two Nasa astronauts – mission commander Shane Kimbrough, 53, and pilot Megan McArthur, 49.

They were joined by Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, 52, and Frenchman and European Space Agency engineer Thomas Pesquet, 43.

The group is expected to spend about six months aboard the orbiting research platform conducting science experiments and maintenance before returning to Earth.

Science facts

Want to know more about the weird and wonderful world of science? From space and astronomy to the human body, we have you covered…

  • When is the next Full Moon?
  • How many bones are in the human body?
  • Is Pluto a planet?
  • How old is the Earth?
  • What causes a volcano to erupt?
  • Which sharks attack the most humans?
  • What are the conspiracy theories about the world ending?
  • All the UFO sightings and whether aliens are real
  • Which country has the most earthquakes?


In other news,  Musk recently claimed that SpaceX could land astronauts on the Moon within the next three years.

The world’s first reality show filmed in space will follow a contestant on a 10-day trip to the ISS in 2023.

Acids may have destroyed any evidence of ancient life on Mars, according to a new study.

Are you excited for the capsule landing? Let us know in the comments!

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

    Source: Read Full Article