Linenger's Letters to his Son

April 2, 1997
Up here, you either make it, bring it, or do without it"

Dear John:

The knee bone is connected to the leg bone, and the leg bone connected to the ankle bone, and the ankle bone connected to the foot bone.

The urine is converted into water. The water is hydrolyzed into hydrogen (dumped over into the vacuum of space--don't want hydrogen gas around--it's explosive) and oxygen. The oxygen we breath. We exhale carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is scrubbed by an absorbent filter, and the filter flushed periodically by exposing it to the vacuum of space.

When running on the treadmill, we sweat. From our skin, the moisture evaporates in order to cool our bodies. (By the way--those doggies you are so fascinated with use their tongues, panting, to 'sweat' and regulate their temperature). The sweat evaporates into the air. This water, along with all the other humidity in the air, is condensed on cold coils (just like the outside of your cold bottle getting wet on a hot, humid day) and collected. Biocide is added, the condensate boiled, and we use it to drink or rehydrate our freeze-dried foods. Delicious.

Of course, if any link breaks down, you need to work around it. Both oxygen generating systems are stubbornly not working--so we activate three solid-fueled oxygen canisters a day in order to supply us with the oxygen we need to breathe. Water produced by the Shuttle and "donated" to us before they departed is being used to supplement the condensate water. (On the Shuttle, we combine oxygen and hydrogen (stored in tanks) to produce electricity in fuel cells--a byproduct of that reaction being water. Instead of dumping overboard the excess produced (in a rather spectacular blizzard of white "snow" when the dump valve is opened)--we collect it in large rubberized sacks and transfer it to the Mir space station for future drinking.) Up here, you either make it or bring it; or do without it.

Someday I'll show you my Crazy Clock game (if I can find it down in Grandma Linenger's basement). Drop in a marble which rolls down the slide which opens a gate which bumps a different marble onto a platform that springs a dummy into a wooden bucket. Good fun. Good future astronaut training.

Goodnight. Daddy's into round two of sleeping with wires connected to my eyelashes, electrodes in my scalp and on my face, already depleted of blood and facing another blood collection first thing in the morning; and all the while trying to keep track of my dreams so that I can record them first thing in the morning. Most of my dreams, in this garb, center around me being electrocuted for a crime I didn't commit. Wishing you pleasanter dreams, John. Pass along a kiss to Mommy for me, please.


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