Enlarge /. "Do you hear – do you smell something?"
When you ask a U.S. Navy submariner about the most visceral part of the underwater and underwater experience, you get the same answer almost every time – it's the smell. "Eau de Boat", as we sailors called it, is a unique combination of diesel fuel, machine oil, laundry basket and flatulence. To the best of my knowledge, no one has tried to bottle and sell eau de boat – but a Kickstarter campaign is trying to do the same for space.
At the end of June, U.S. National Space Council Executive Secretary Scott Pace expressed his desire to help companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin develop minimal commercial space tourism – short suborbital tours where some people go above and beyond the atmosphere Bring them back to the USA where they started. Virgin Galactic even plans to send some NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
But it's probably small and expensive matters that very few people will experience, at least for a few more decades. In the meantime, space enthusiasts can to a certain extent experience the ISS in virtual reality in a more accessible and cost-effective way. Experience is severely limited even with six degrees of freedom.
Oculus and its competitors are unlikely to find a way to simulate weightlessness. However, if you want to smell the ISS while traveling virtually, this may be an option.
A brief history of the smell of space
Believe it or not, this isn't the first effort to bottle up the smell of space travel. NASA tries to simulate the experience of manning their vehicles and performing their missions as accurately as possible during ground training, leaving their astronauts as prepared and confident about the real thing – and if you believe the Eau de Space Kickstarter campaign , this includes the smell.
Decades ago, NASA hired specialists to develop the "smell of space" to train astronauts before orbit. NASA's goal to simulate space during training is to remove any surprises that astronauts might experience in space. Practice makes perfect and it's rocket science. The smell of space has been trapped behind "Need to Know", astronaut field training and bureaucracy for years. We made it through a shear decision, grit, good luck, and a few requests from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
We are not sure how well this claim is true. The Kickstarter campaign itself is particularly lacking links to support its claims. In a CNN interview, Eau de Space founder and chemist Steve Pearce said NASA asked him to develop the simulated scent in 2008 – a cool story in itself, but not related to the Kickstarter campaign of "decades." "matches old" program that had to be excavated by FOIA.
It's not hard to find astronauts willing to describe how space smells – Peggy Whitson described the ISS in 2002 as bitter, smoky gunpowder, and Don Pettit describes Eau de Spacewalk as a sweet, metallic smell that arises from arc welding of smoke resembles.
When Pearce described his work for NASA in 2008, he told the Atlantic in 2012 to "imagine sweaty feet and stale body odor, mix them with nail polish remover and gasoline … then come closer". That doesn't sound like a commercially viable product, but for me it certainly sounds like eau de boat.
It's not the first time a company claims to offer the smell of bottled space to consumers – the airline company Lockheed Martin produced a limited amount of a fragrance called "Vector" for April Fool's joke last year. Our own Eric Berger had the opportunity to try Vector, and he explained that it was dark, musky, coal-like, and similar to freshly spread mulch.
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The Pearce Kickstarter campaign is completely devoid of any description of how the Eau de Space product actually smells. It could faithfully reproduce the mostly human radio of a machine with recycled air crew – or it could dispense with human smells and focus on the sharp, pungent, ionized smell that comes in from a spacewalk. If you want to find out, it will cost you $ 15 per 4-ounce bottle.