6 Reasons Why Mass Space Travel Would Completely Suck
Ever since we figured out that space is a vast, empty abyss instead of a canvas painted by one deity or another, people have looked for ways to travel all up in that horror show. However, the time of brave space travel pioneers like Neil Armstrong, Valentina Tereshkova, and The Smashing Pumpkins is a bygone era. Our longing gazes are already on Mars, and it's just a matter of time before regular folks will be able to traverse the unforgiving emptiness surrounding us.
And that, friends, is a problem. We're space dipshits, you and I. We're not able or willing to pass our space time doing badass space science stuff, eating space jam (that's what the movie was about, right?) and spending several space hours per space day strapped on a weird-ass space gym machine just to stop our bodies from collapsing. We want our space life to be just like our regular life: Lazy, deliciously malnourished, and full of aimless distractions. That is the real challenge of the next stage in space travel. Let's see if it can be solved!
In the 1960s, one of the many surprising issues NASA faced during the space race was none other than the humble fart. Astronauts blow raspberries just like anyone else, which can be a bit of a problem because the methane in farts is just as flammable in space as it is on earth. Although "lighting your own farts in space" sounds like the winning entry in a 12-year-old's "coolest ways to die" list, NASA didn't feel like decimating countless millions' worth of equipment because Steve the Idiot Astronaut is big on leftover chili.
"Fuck you, Steve."
Part of the issue can be solved with proper diet, but there's always a few silent-but-deadlies sneaking under the radar, and they don't really go anywhere in zero-G conditions, because there's no convection. They just stay there, air bubbles of turd-gas hovering about like space mines. It's not such a huge problem when there's only a handful of professionals on a carefully restricted diet around, but when we start mass space travel ... well, let's just say that the space equivalent of the average person's Cheetos-and-burgers diet isn't going to bode well for the general odor of the place, let alone fire safety, when you multiply it by thousands. That's your future: Hordes upon hordes of people spewing anal gases from their terrifying cavities until the air turns brown. The inevitable purging fire will seem like sweet relief.
Unless there's proper ventilation, of course. Air fans are already a huge thing in space travel, because unless we have a fan running on our face when we sleep in zero-G conditions, the carbon dioxide we breathe out will just hang around, engulf our head and suffocate us. Of course, we'll obviously need to upscale our space ventilation systems quite a bit to accommodate the horror of our ass revolts, which will probably create inconveniently large exhaust ports that will eventually enable young pilots from Tatooine to destroy our fully operational space station. Yes, I just said Luke probably flew his mission to destroy the Death Star against a giant gust of Imperial butt wind.
Are you reading this at home? Look around you. What do you see? Chairs, tables, and home entertainment technology, probably. Little, meaningless trinkets that you've acquired over time and grown attached to. The reanimated mummy of Rameses XIV silently glowering at you in the corner of the room, forever trapped in the ring of salt and eldritch spices you lured him into at the last minute. You know, usual everyday stuff. Do you need all that stuff? Of course not. Do you want it? Shit yes. Rameses gets you so laid.
Can you have any of it in space? Ha, no. This is what your new space living quarters will look like:
The dude comes with the room, and will stare at you like that 24/7.
That's as attractive as a giant clump of taint hair pulled from the shower drain. There are freaking prisons that give you better premises. In some countries, you can even bring your Final Fantasy figurines with you, provided you leave out the ones you can use to shank a dude.
So, basically, everything but this plush Vivi.
So, what's going to happen to our precious trinkets and furniture and video games? Hopefully, not a goddamned thing, because we're already trying to figure out ways to build space habitats. See, in the hopefully not-too-distant dreams of space scientists, our deep space living quarters will be less like that fucking broom closet above, and a whole lot more like the Bernal sphere :
Or the Stanford torus:
Or this glorious bullshit right here:
That is the current endgame for mass space exploration: You don't need to lose any of your shit, because you'll live in a fucking space McMansion amidst fields of corn or grass or whatever the hell we'll eventually be able to engineer to grow in space. These aren't just pipe dreams of sci-fi authors, either -- all of the above models have been proposed by NASA, who are currently balls-deep in the theoretical deep space habitation game.
They'll probably need a pretty significant budget increase to actually build any of that, though. To help pay for them, I will sell all of the rare Final Fantasy figures from earlier, except for the ones that can be turned into shanks. Space farters aren't getting the best of me.
One of the first things humanity will try to get rolling once we start mass traveling in space will almost certainly be artificial gravity. That would enable us to sit, stand and, yes, screw just like we did on earth. However, it's a pants-shittingly difficult concept to pull off, so don't expect it anytime soon. Besides, once you leave the confines of Earth, why would you want to embark on your regular, awkward gravity-based missionary, where the only sci-fi element in your sex life is that roleplay you do on your birthday where you're Jabba the Hutt and she's the trash compactor. You're in space, people. Get space fuckin'.
Sex in zero gravity is the name of the game here, and therein lies the problem. You're not going to want to fly completely nude, because even the best of zero-G boning sessions is not going to be worth the glare of the space station commander when you bumblingly try to explain to him how that gallon of your dong sweat ended up in the machinery. You're going to want some protective gear between your equipment and the spaceship's, preferably something that also keeps you strapped to your partner so you won't embarrassingly float away from each other mid-thrust. If only someone would come up with an invention that meets all these needs ...
... wait, they already have? How about that. Meet the 2suit:
They're still working on the lace and frills.
OK, it's basically a set of flight suits with front flaps that can be velcroed into each other, so technically you're not so much indulging in sweet, weightless boning as much as you're awkwardly gyrating in a double Snuggie. On the other hand, it was invented by the lady who played the Queen in Beastmaster. Tell me you don't want to add a "boning in a weird gimp suit designed by the lady from Beastmaster" liner note to your sexual resume.
If you're not into sweaty and awkward "let's see if we can fit in the same sleeping bag" type boning, there are always other methods, aptly described in this video:
If you didn't watch the video, the solution is bondage: A few carefully placed elastic restraints will enable the couplin' couple to remain as attached to each other as the situation requires. Yes, space is into BDSM, and will make damn sure that everyone who tries to fuck within its reach will be, too.
Of course, the video raises more pressing issues than mere kink. Mankind simply wasn't built for space shagging. Our cardiovascular system distributes most of the blood to the upper body in zero gravity, which presents a problem because blood flow in the genital parts is pretty much how sexual arousal works. Also, men's testosterone levels tend to decrease in space, which highly contributes to the floppiness and, eventually, the it's-not-usually-like-this-I-swear-ness. Still, I can't say I'm too worried about mere biological issues, if only because the porn industry has already turned its inquiring gaze toward zero-G sex. Since porn's reliably at the forefront of pretty much every new technology, we can probably expect Space Viagra to hit the shelves by 2019.
Sports might not be your favorite cup of tea, but let's face it: There are tons of people who quite like both watching and doing that shit, and we both know that Space Chad is going to be an assload less annoying if he spends 99 percent of his waking hours at a gym in some faraway section of the spaceship. There's just one problem: Currently, the only way to properly exercise in space is by getting strapped on bugfuck machines like this:
"Look, space, this wasn't what I expected when you said you were into BDSM."
No one likes that shit. What's worse, in space you pretty much have to spend two hours a day in contraptions like that one because otherwise your muscles atrophy like no one's business. How can we make that tolerable? No, tolerable won't do, actually. We need to make it awesome.
Luckily, science is on it. The default zero-G conditions in space enable athletic maneuvers that make the best parkour runners hang their heads in impotent shame, and bored-out-of-their-skulls astronauts have already started using/abusing this fact, developing awesome weightless workout programs from simple tasks like filling their water bags. Instead of merely filling them and stocking them, they toss them around like medicine balls, then grab them as they float by and let their momentum take them on a joyride. ISS Expedition 16 arranged racing competitions where team members would rush through the station's modules like a bunch of weightless Spider-Men. There have already been weightless basketball and Frisbee games, and they're apparently quite badass. Although you have to completely relearn the way you throw thanks to the absence of gravity, it seems like a small price to pay for being able to triple-spin-dunk your opponents like you're living in a game of NBA Jam. This could be you, in space:
And that's just the beginning of it. In the future, we might see entirely new sports based around zero-G conditions, with maybe a few wells of artificial gravity to keep everyone on their toes. Moving platforms? Water levels? Real life freaking video game levels to fight your opponent in? The world of sports is defined by ridiculous bullshit. You know all that stuff is coming the second the technology allows it. And it'll be great. No. It'll be space great.
Regardless of your opinion about kids, I think you'll agree that we need them to survive as a species. This means that when we bring our circus to space, we'll need to bring them as well, which is a completely different set of problems. Errant babies flying about, slobbering everywhere and pulling every cord and lever they can see is just part of the issue. There are also problems that you'll never see coming until it's far too late. Every parent has experienced the "between diapers" scenario, where, one minute, they're just mindlessly changing the baby, and the next, they're trying to hold back a wave of poop that is absolutely biblical. Now, imagine if said poop didn't have to obey the laws of gravity, so it just kept going. Your parental instincts are enough to dodge it, but the precious piece of unprotected equipment it inevitably hits is less lucky. Now, multiply this by 10,000 babies firing streams of feces like drunken Stormtroopers fire their weapons, and your space colony is suddenly an unlivable hellhole the color and general odor of a 19th century asylum.
"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
But even if we manage to baby-proof everything and come up with some sort of, I don't know, hose system for diaper changing, space just ain't no place for children. You can't make babies exercise the way adults do, which plays merry hell with their physique in a weightless environment. How space radiation and other fun elements of interplanetary travel will mess with them is anyone's guess. Oh, and at the moment, scientists aren't even sure if it's possible to conceive a child in space, at least in the usual way.
Thanks to sites like the ones that I'm involved with, it's hard to go without the internet for any length of time. The average Western person is so used to having all the knowledge in the world at our fingertips that the very thought of getting that power stripped away is like losing a limb. No one wants to go in space -- or, for that matter, anywhere -- without that shit these days. With that in mind, I come to potential space-dwellers bearing good and bad news. The good news: There is internet in space, brought to you with the complex science-magic of satellite configurations and lasers. The bad news: It's at least as slow as dial-up.
"Thought you were rid of me, huh?"
Further strengthening its claim as the herpes of online connections, dial-up's back -- in speed and spirit, if not in actual technology -- as Space's official internet connection for the last five years or so. What's more, the internet capacity the International Space Station enjoys is fairly rudimentary: Emails, news, Twitter and the occasional video call. Can't read Cracked in space (though if I'm wrong and an astronaut aboard the ISS happens to read this, holy shit, please let me know. Also, hi!).
The main issue here is distance. While the ISS itself is only an average of 254 miles away, there's a whole lot of signal traveling. So, if an astronaut clicks this link in space, the request will travel 22,000 miles to a network of geosynchronous satellites, which send it down to an earth-based receiver, which processes it and returns the response. That's a whole lot of waiting time to realize you've just been Rickrolled.
In related news, if I don't have a column out next week, that means the ISS have a secret death ray.
Luckily, science fully recognizes the situation and is working its ass off to rectify it for aspiring space travelers. There's talk of a functional interplanetary internet, spearheaded by internet luminary Vint Cerf. They're developing completely new series of protocols and storing methods that will one day hopefully be able to bring Mars colonists a comparatively speedy internet access from Earth. Whether this is for their comfort and convenience or whether this is for the constant stream of cat videos that will pacify any chance of a Mars colony secession and uprising is up for speculation.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
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