If space travel were easy, we'd have been sending our cocky beef-chested men off to impregnate green ladies long ago. But space travel is notoriously difficult. This is in part because of all the things we earthbound losers take for granted. Air and gravity, for example, can inflate even the most minor inconvenience into an insurmountable quagmire. Luckily, brilliant minds are hard at work every day dreaming up wacky solutions to those problems that would make lesser scientists shit their science pants. For example ...
6 The Problem: Smells Can Kill
While your co-worker reheating fish in the break room's microwave should be a capital offense, in reality, nobody is actually going to die for it. Not so in space, where smells can kill. Especially if the scent in question is a product of off-gassing, a process by which an object gives off (potentially dangerous) chemical compounds. If you've ever spent a week tripping balls after having new carpet installed, you've experienced off-gassing firsthand.
The Insane Solution:
One guy with a highly trained nose sniffs every single item that goes into space. His name is George Aldrich, and for going on half a century he's been NASA's chief schnozz, smelling not only the food, tools, and other supplies provided by NASA, but also any personal items that astronauts are planning to bring along on their journey. If an astronaut wants to take it, they've first got to let ol' George sniff it. We would pay good money to watch some of the more awkward exchanges that surely must have occurred. The underwear alone ...
"What did you smell?"
"Oh, nothing. I just noticed this was a Coldplay mix."
George has a nearly supernatural ability to differentiate among the seven main categories of scents: "musky, floral, ethereal, camphoraceous, minty, pungent [and] putrid." Today, George leads a small team of similarly-superpowered sniffers to protect astronauts from their own unbearable stench. Three times a year, each sniffer must undergo a "10-bottle test" to make sure his or her nose is still up to snuff.
We know exactly what you're thinking: "But don't astronauts fart in space?" And the answer to that question, according to now-retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, is "Yes. Prodigiously." See, it's impossible to burp, since gas doesn't rise like it does here on Earth, so any gas trapped inside the body comes out the other end. Astronauts have even tried to fart-propel themselves across the International Space Station (sadly, with little success).
This was the original cause of the fire in Gravity.
5 The Problem: Water Is A Precious Resource
Despite what your alcoholic uncle insists, one cannot survive on whiskey alone. We need water to live. But, to put it in scientific terms, it is "heavy as fuck." It also takes up an inordinate amount of space that could be put to better use for additional materials. In rocketry, weight and volume equate to a preponderance of dollar signs. Therefore, when maintaining a habitat like the International Space Station, it's absolutely essential that we not expend one more drop of rocket fuel than necessary.
The Insane Solution:
Recycle every last drop of water. Every. Last. Drop.
The ISS's Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) includes a device called the Water Recycling System (WRS) which captures every possible bit of water on the station, purifies it, and makes it drinkable again. We're talking sweat, waste water from brushing teeth and washing hands, moisture in the air from expelled breath, and yes, even pee. It's basically an apartment-sized stillsuit from Dune.
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"No asparagus next mission."
The system also has the capability to purify urine from lab animals. Scientists have calculated that it takes 72 rats to produce the same amount of reclaimable water as a single human. Imagine chilling in a space station, not knowing if the water you're using to wash down your space burrito is your own pee, a lab animal's pee, your ISS roomie's stank breath, or some unholy combination of the above.