Chapter 09.4

Reducing their rotation speed by 80% required a couple of hours of the small station-keeping rockets being fired in reverse. The whole crew was having a great time bouncing madly around the Hab. This activity looked much like the space-suited astronauts on the grainy TV images of the Moon landings, occurring nearly fifty years earlier. The big difference was the lack of space suits on five of the six crewmembers. Carl was in the process of suiting up and, like two mother hens, both Tom and Brandon were hovering over him lending assistance physically and imparting advice verbally.

Getting into a spacesuit is a rather complicated procedure from start to finish. Not knowing how long the EVA would take, Carl began with a lengthy stay in the lavatory, prior to donning a customized diaper. Next in line is what is fondly referred to as the ‘octopus’. This contraption is a collection of wires and electrodes, which will help Valerie monitor Carl’s vital signs while he is outside the vessel. This is followed by a full body undergarment of thermal long johns which is much more heavy-duty than anything one might wear when snowboarding or slogging through snowdrifts in the Arctic.

Finally, all is topped off by the canvas helmet. This specialized head covering contains the communication earpiece and throat-mic, as well as the water mouthpiece. Once the mouthpiece is attached to the body-mounted canteen by a flexible tube, the user need only bite down gently on the end to initiate the flow of water. This soft canteen, like a Bota wine bag, is strapped to the waist and positioned at the user’s lower back, out of the way. This location allows body heat to keep the water from freezing solid and the tightened straps of the backpack provide the necessary pressure to generate the flow needed to push the water up to the mouthpiece.

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