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Chris Hadfield gets tough on Space Station spills


Uploaded on March 6, 2013


Chris Hadfield gets tough on Space Station spills

2013-03-06 - CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield gives us a demonstration of how astronauts clean up spills on the International Space Station (ISS (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


Cdr Chris Hadfield: Katrina and Meagan Bateur (ph) from Montreal asked, "Hi, Chris. Hello. How do you clean up a mess in space?" Good question, because it's not going to fall on the floor, it's not going to fly up into the air, it's just going to float around until it runs into something.

So let's make a little mess. Let's squirt some water as if it got away here. So those little drops are kind of departing, and then I've got a ball of water here just floating around. Got to clean it up. What am I going to do? So you look for a dry rag, you grab a rag. And we could grab a Russian rag. Here's a nice, Russian rag here, get it out. My ball of water is still just floating there, fortunately. Get a rag out, try not to let it float away, and then bring my ball of water back on the rag. My ball of water is on this rag now.

So it could have been chicken soup, it could have been some nasty fluid. But that's - you stop it first, you get a rag out, and you catch it. So now you have a wet rag. Now, something like water's fine of course, and what we'll do with this rag is we'll just hang it on a clip somewhere and let it evaporate. And that way, the water gets picked up by the humidifiers of the spaceship and goes back into our water system, gets purified back into drinking water, so we don't lose the water.

But if it was something else, something a little nasty, then of course we could get a more rugged cleaner, or just a great, big cloth, to wipe it up. Or if it was something a little sticky, we could get kind of baby wipes. Wipes. We use pre-moistened wipes. Then you can clean off the sticky stuff that's maybe stuck to the wall and dried, or if you get jam on something.

So that takes care of things like water and stuff that isn't toxic. But what do you do if something nasty like, you know, a battery leaks, or some sort of nasty liquid is floating around? Well, then we have what's called a contaminated clean-up kit. And I brought one here to show you. Here's our contaminated clean-up kit, and you of course want to protect your eyes, so you put on goggles. And you want to protect your mucous membranes and your lungs, so we put on a mask, try not to break it. OK? So now I have my mask and my goggles on, and then we want to protect our hands. We have special gloves that protect us against chemicals. They're called silver shield gloves.

So I put on my silver shield glove, and now I am ready, with various types of absorbing things. And in fact, we have some great, big ones, special soak-up mitts, that we could put on top of a nasty spill and then, at the end of it, if you have the right type of combination, you could hold it in your hand and carefully pull off your glove, and now you've got a nasty thing on the space station. But we would wrap it inside two or three layers of containment - bags that close, zip up - until we're sure that it's not going to leak out. And then, finally, we're safe, and we can take off our gloves and our goggles and our mask... and carry on with the business of being astronauts. Good question.


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