This month is the fiftieth anniversary of the first time a human being landed and walked on another celestial body - the moon.
Watching a programme about it the other day got me wondering about health and safety issues in space - an unnatural and very dangerous place for a human being to be.
Take life in the International Space Station (ISS) for example.
There, astronauts and cosmonauts live for many months in microgravity - not quite complete weightlessness.
One major hazard on Earth - manual handling - is just as much an issue on the ISS. In fact NASA have said “To date, a total of 219 in-flight musculoskeletal injuries have been identified”. Objects still have mass despite the weightlessness.
The early Apollo astronauts on the moon had difficulty with this, digging and collecting moon rock to bring to earth- it was difficult to hold.
Another issue is confined spaces. All spacecraft are limited in room. Apollo 11 had three astronauts in an area about six cubic metres. Very little room to stretch and move around for almost two weeks (apart from a short trip onto the surface for two of them).
Perhaps the biggest risk in space is fire. On the ISS, the crew wear breathing apparatus in emergencies and can fight any fire with carbon dioxide, water mist or foam and by isolating the power source if electrical. Smoke detectors automatically shut off ventilation to starve the fire, and astronauts can abandon ship in the emergency Soyuz craft always attached to the Station.
Good health and safety planning in space can be emulated on earth. In fact, if you excuse the pun, Health and Safety is not rocket science, but we can use the practices learned in space just as well on earth.
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