The group project this week is to role play an interview for an ideal job
I don’t know that participating in the first manned mission to Mars is most people’s ideal job, but that is the scenario my students have chosen this week for their project presentation.
Kanjiro is being subjected to a brief assessment of his suitability as a pioneering astronaut, and naturally he has one or two questions of his own which he would like to ask, mostly about the pay, and the risk.
The risk is substantial (I have written about it elsewhere), and has been thrown into perspective by the experience of an Italian astronaut the other day who, while completing a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, found that his helmet was inexplicably filling with water and he was starting to drown. He managed to activate his recall cable, and made it back to the repressurisation chamber, by which time he had nearly lost consciousness. You can read a fuller and more vivid account here.
A more positive story comes from a team who have developed the first 3-D printer to be taken into space. The machine has been developed to operate in zero gravity, throwing up some odd engineering challenges, which you can read about here.
Such a device (not unlike the replicators in Star Trek) would have been of great use on the Apollo 13 mission, on which astronauts had to assemble a carbon dioxide filter from bits and pieces lying around the spacecraft after an explosion on board left them struggling to get home.