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Astronaut Tim Peake interview: boldly going where no body has gone before

Timothy_Peake,_official_portraitFor Tim Peake it’s T minus 600 hours until launch. Come 15th December, the 43 year old father of two will be strapped atop 150 tonnes of rocket fuel looking skyward. He will be spending six months aboard the International Space Station, during which time he will be floating around, admiring the view, and playing with test tubes. The life of the astronaut – boldly going where no one has gone before. It’s every schoolboy’s (and girl’s?) dream job. Except that it isn’t. If they knew what being an astronaut was really like, that is.

Earlier this year I interviewed Tim while he was undergoing final preparations in Houston, Texas. I asked him about what life would be like in space and, with my doctor’s hat on, wanted to know what medical research he would be doing when in space. I learnt that going into space isn’t like in the movies. Within moments of Tim entering orbit, his body’s internal workings will be tipped upside down. As soon as he enters zero gravity, blood will rush to his head, causing his heart and kidneys to go haywire. When not nursing a killer headache, he would be emptying his bladder in the space khazi as his body fluid levels rapidly adjust. In the days and weeks that follow, his bones will rapidly leech out their calcium, his muscles will shrink and his heart get weaker. He will grow a couple of inches taller which, while not a problem in space, will give him terrible back ache when gets back onto terra firma. Continue reading

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Hospital doctor turned lecturer and science communicator, I love trying to answer life's questions - whether it is how our body works or the best way to dunk a biscuit.... Read more...

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