A Triple-Barreled Space Pistol


  1. Astronaut herpes (don't worry, it's not obscene!!!)
  2. A spacewalk comedy of errors, featuring a triple-barreled space pistol

Current events

I come from a family of doctors, so I find space medicine a really interesting field. Recent tests performed by NASA show that dormant herpes viruses reactivated in more than half the astronauts who've traveled to the ISS

I hate to break it to ya, but this is probably inside of you :(

While ~2/3 of adults are infected by the herpes simplex virus, for most people it remains dormant and rarely causes symptoms. But spaceflight is stressful on the body, not just physically but also mentally due to confinement, societal separation, and altered sleep cycles. This causes an increased secretion of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline which are known to suppress the immune system, making astronauts more prone to outbreaks. This is unfortunate because it poses an additional health risk to a manned Mars mission. 

This day in space history // Today I learned

Unlike one of my previous posts, this time it's these two categories being combined because they flow together so seamlessly!

On March 18, 1965, the first spacewalk was performed by Alexei Leonov on Voshkod 2. Leonov successfully floated out of his spacecraft in Earth orbit for a total of 12 minutes, but apart from that, basically nothing else went right! 

Artist's impression of Leonov's spacewalk

His spacesuit was poorly designed and swelled massively, making him unable to reenter the airlock. He had to open the valve on his spacesuit to relieve the pressure, flirting dangerously with decompression sickness. By the time he got back in, he was suffering from heatstroke; Leonov himself said he was up to his knees in sweat sloshing around in the suit. 

Because of the delay, they missed their landing zone by over 200 miles, crashing their capsule in a remote Siberian forest and spending the night in freezing temperatures surrounded by wolves and bears! Recovery helicopters couldn't land because of the trees, so eventually ground rescuers had to bring them skis so the cosmonauts could ski down the mountain to the rescue helicopter. 

So what's the fun fact of the day? I'd read before the cosmonauts had a pistol in the spacecraft, so they could've defended themselves from the Siberian wolves and bears. But what I didn't know was that the mishap drove the development of the TP-82 Cosmonaut pistol, a standard-issue triple-barreled pistol carried by cosmonauts as part of their survival kit upon reentry.  

The TP-82s were regularly carried on Soviet/Russian space missions but were finally discontinued in 2007. Still, who'd have thought you need a gun in space??

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