10.28.2009

Knitting in Space?

So, I was yammering excitedly to Tom about the Ares launch today, which led to me saying that I wish I could be in a launch as opposed to just watching one, but that's not likely considering that I'm broken. So Tom said that maybe they'll find something to inject in my brain to make me better. And I said maybe they'll figure out that I'd feel better in zero gravity. I actually do wonder about that... Anyway, then I, of course, wondered if you can knit in zero gravity. I see no reason why you shouldn't, though I suspect being overly vigorous in the motions could send you careening about and I would imagine it would take a little while to get used to dealing with inertia but not gravity in keeping stitch tension.
And then I thought I'd go look around to see if anyone ever has knit in space. A few quick Google searches didn't turn up anything, unfortunately. However, if anyone knows if it has been done, do please let me know - especially if there's video.

What I did turn up is below, however. A link to a NASA page about using textiles for composite wing-structures and using principles drawn from knitting, sewing, quilting, weaving, etc., to develop and make the materials. Pretty nifty.
Advanced Stitching Machine: Making Composite Wing Structures Of The Future

As a bonus little (?) known fact: Like a lot of kids, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was pretty hard core about it, though. I went to Space Academy (and I totally want to go again). I loved the books and documentaries that came out around the time of the 25th anniversary of the first moon landing. I worked extra hard at science in math through junior high and high school (my two worst subjects) and started making connections with people (politicians) in the hope of getting a recommendation for the Air Force Academy. My plan was to go through the Academy, become a test pilot, and then head to NASA. I was waaay more interesting in flying the shuttle than being a payload or mission specialist. Unfortunately, my sophomore year I discovered I had mitral valve prolapse, a condition that I was fairly certain would mean there was little chance I'd be allowed to fly. The pediatric cardiologist agreed with me on that score - I recall him being genuinely sympathetic and kind when he told me, too. So, I fell back on my first choice of what I wanted to be when I grew up - Egyptology - and re-directed my energy toward that goal.
I still love space stuff, though. Perhaps predictably, I tend to be far more interested in the human stories and histories than the technical details, though. In the past 18 months or so, I've discovered some of the wealth of historical material NASA and others have made available on the web and am thrilled by it. I'm also really pleased that they've taken the time and effort to do oral history recordings and transcriptions. There is a huge mine of potential data and primary sources there for historical research.

2 comments:

Chip said...

Didn't know you had a bum valve too. Here's hoping you keep yours in better shape than I did. At least yours was discovered by competent doctors, it sounds like.

Also didn't know you had astronaut aspirations. Too bad you're no fan of Erich von Daniken or you could have been both an astronaut and an archaeologist.

Shoveling Ferret said...

My valve seems to be okay - last echocardiogram I had they couldn't see the prolapse anymore (not sure how that happened) but I do apparently have some minor regurgitation in 3 valves. Do one seems particularly concerned about it, though, so I've let it sort of drift to the back of my mind.

And early in my astronaut aspirations, I was totally going to go to Mars and discover the lost civilization under the face on Mars. :P