The Right Stuff

I was going to write something about Churchmouse’s very interesting piece about an encounter with an antismoking activist, but I’m far too sleepy to do that tonight.

Instead I’ll write about spaceship interior design.

I first started thinking about this important topic a couple of weeks ago, when I’d downloaded and installed Orbiter 2010. It’s got some quite stunning graphics.


But I couldn’t figure out how to steer the spaceship provided. And I didn’t think much of its rather spartan interior.

anastasiaAs many of you know, I’ve got my own home-made orbital simulation model. And one of my planned projects is to build my own spaceship. And so one sunny afternoon last week, sitting outside a pub with a beer and a cigarette, I started sketching out a few ideas for my own spaceship (my all-time favourite was Dan Dare’s beautiful 1950s’ Anastasia, right).

I decided immediately on a comfortable retro look. There would be circular dials showing speed and altitude and stuff, with hands like grandfather clocks, quivering re-assuringly, all set into an 1950s’ cream enamel dashboard. Switches would all be brown bakelite. And the ship would be steered using motorbike handlebars, with a throttle grip on the right hand, and brake levers.

And the pilot’s seat would obviously have to be a well-upholstered armchair.


Well, you would want something comfortable, wouldn’t you, if you’re going to spend hours and hours behind the handlebars?

And obviously there would have to be a large ashtray set into the right arm, and a holder for a mug of tea or a pint of beer in the left arm. For on my spaceship, both drinking and smoking would not only be allowed, but would be mandatory. I’m not sure how one would use an ashtray in a weightless environment, but probably you’d soon learn how to deftly flick the ash into the ashtray after a bit of practice.

lampstandAnd why not have a nice Persian carpet underfoot? And a table lamp or two with a nice lampshade?

And a bookcase full of books? And a mini-bar? And William Morris wallpaper on the cabin walls?

And some floral curtains to draw over the cockpit windows at night?

And why not have the pilot’s uniform as an elegant dressing gown and slippers?

And have a nice tabby ship’s cat too?

The one thing you obviously don’t want is that barren Star Trek ascetic style.

And here’s why smoking will be mandatory:

There’s a little known, dirty story about the International Space Station (ISS): It’s filled with bacteria and fungi. A new study has found compelling evidence that microorganisms from human skin are present throughout the station, and some of the bugs could cause serious harm to astronauts.

NASA and its partner agencies go to extraordinary measures to reduce the likelihood that microbes will sneak a ride to ISS, requiring that payloads move through “clean rooms,” which are outfitted with high-powered air filtration systems and thoroughly mopped and scrubbed with disinfectants. But then ISS itself serves as a home to six microbe-filled humans who stay in orbit for as long as 6 months each and routinely shed skin cells when they exercise, comb their hair, eat, and do other activities that potentially can contaminate their isolated “built environment.”

Tobacco smoke (and in fact all wood smoke) is insecticidal, bactericidal, and fungicidal. If spaceships are filled with a decent fug of tobacco smoke, it will be a lethal environment for bacteria and fungi. And as the smoke percolates throughout the ship, even into the electronics, and is deposited on all surfaces (as third-hand smoke!) there’ll be no hiding place for any bugs.

So astronauts will have to be made of The Right Stuff.

They’ll have to be smokers.

Preferably chain-smokers.

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23 Responses to The Right Stuff

  1. Tony says:

    Cosmonauts used to smoke on the Mir space station.
    “Life on Mir was much more relaxed than the highly professional environment aboard NASA’s shuttle. Cosmonauts drank cognac, reportedly smoked the occasional cigarette and posted lewd drawings above the toilet.”

  2. nisakiman says:

    …my all-time favourite was Dan Dare’s beautiful 1950s’ Anastasia…

    Heh! Yes, I used to get the ‘Eagle’ too. It was the only comic my parents were happy for me to read. I suppose they viewed it as a comic version of a broadsheet, as opposed to the ‘Dandy’ and ‘Beano’, which were the tabloids! I’ve still got a few ‘Eagle’ annuals from the early 60s in a box somewhere.

  3. Zaphod says:

    “And some floral curtains to draw over the cockpit windows at night?”
    It’s always night in space!
    Odd, that; don’t you think?

  4. mikef317 says:

    On statistics, from Geoffrey Kabat, a man who knows his numbers.

    There are comments. Access them from the right icon at the top of the page.

  5. harleyrider1978 says:
  6. harleyrider1978 says:
  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Ya just have to laugh out Loud

    CVS burned again by tobacco ban

    Sales at CVS were once again burned by its decision not to sell cigarettes.|By Chris Isidore

  8. harleyrider1978 says:
  9. slugbop007 says:

    A nice mix of cigar, pipe and cigarette smokers, along with barrels of whisky and cognac to boot.

  10. billy says:

    read this as kid, they build their own spaceship…some assembly required :)

  11. billy says:

    btw, just read the churchmouse smoking piece…as one with a decade in the trenches on global public health freedom (lost cause imo) I have come to believe that it is the thin edge of the wedge on property rights…the foundation of freedom. When public health guys can dictate behavior to free people, they are not free…it is just conditioning. If non-smokers don’t like smoke- filled pubs or clubs, why don’t they just vote with their wallets and not go to them?

    What’s next, mandatory vaccinations? oh shit we’re already there.

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