Space holidays may not be happy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Space holidays may not be happy

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December 10, 2004
by Michelle Franzen

There may not be a happy holiday in space because Russian and American astronauts have been told to ration their food supply for the next few weeks, until a space shipment can reach them.

The Russian supply ship is slated to leave Christmas Eve and arrive the day after Christmas. But if it does not make it, the crew could be back on earth by the New Year.

Just two months into their six-month long mission, a Russian cosmonaut and American astronaut working at the international space station are being told to ration food until after Christmas.

"This is mission control Houston NASA says that is the earliest chance a Russian cargo space ship Progress will be able to dock and deliver the needed supplies for the crew.

The cut in calories is about the same as three cans of coke and NASA said it should not impact their health. “We're going to cut back on amount of food they are eating to five to ten percent; timing is critical. If the cargo does not make it by December 26th, the crew could have two weeks or less of food left and they may have come home."

"Suddenly a few weeks ago people began to realize there's only enough food to last until the next supply flight or only a few days after,” said former NASA engineer James Oberg.

They are down the last things no one else has wanted. Experts say it is a good lesson in planning for future missions. In a sense it's a good thing to deal with this because if you're going to be going to Mars and other planets, the space station is your prototype into planetary spaceship.

As a precaution, NASA and Russian officials are already making plans to abort the mission in order to bring the two-man crew back to earth just after the New Year.

Russian leaders partly blame the previous space crew for overeating and leaving a shortage of milk and meat.

posted at 3:15PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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