Andrei Borisenko: Thirst on Earth and in Space is Felt Absolutely the Same

Millions of boys dream of space, and he was there twice. However, with the Hero of Russia, the pilot-cosmonaut Andrei Borisenko, we managed to meet not at the launch pad, and not in the Museum of Astronautics. Recently he took part in the sailing regatta "Royal Space Regatta", held in St. Petersburg. What are the similarities between the profession of an astronaut and a sailor? What is the taste of "cosmic" coffee? How soon will we colonize the moon? Andrei told us about this in an interview to our site.

I have loved the sea since childhood, but I have never had a chance to try it "on the tooth", and this regatta for me is a very vivid experience. The first regatta in my life took place two months ago, but it became a kind of acquaintance. The weather was good and there were no special difficulties. This time the conditions are much more complicated, and the sea showed if not its teeth, then certainly very steep temper.

It so happened that, without serving a day in the Navy, I am the Navy reserve officer. In Soviet times, almost every institute had military departments. I studied at Voenmekh and after graduation we had training camps where we were given the rank of reserve officers. However, I have a long love with the sea. Since my great-grandfather, all in our family were military or civilian sailors, so for me this environment is not alien. Ten years of my life have passed in the North, since my dad is a submarine officer. And I often had to go to the sea to move from one point of space to another.

Sea and space are two absolutely different elements, and they are very difficult to compare with each other. Nevertheless, the work of the cosmonaut and the work of the sailor are in some way in touch. The danger and attitude to this danger, interaction and teamwork - all this is very important both on board the spacecraft and under the sail. Each member of the team must clearly know their actions in a freelance situation and be able to make quick decisions. In addition, he must obey unquestioningly and implement all the instructions of the elders. Success never belongs to one person, it's always a team achievement!

To date, the ISS does not have such a notion as a "water consumption rate". Of course, technically some norms are laid, but they far exceed human needs. Thirst on earth and in space is felt absolutely the same, but during the day we do not experience any difficulties with water. Neither as consumption in food or quenching thirst, nor as ancillary procedures, such as washing, for example.

Water on the ISS is delivered from the Earth. But "upstairs" there are two systems of "turning water into water". The first separates water from the condensate formed during breathing. The second is the system of water reclamation from urine. Coming out of the human body, it is purified and returned to our disposal. By the way, contrary to popular belief, such water is not used as a drinking water. With its help, oxygen is produced by the electrolysis method known from the school physics course. Water is split into oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen is removed overboard, and oxygen is used for breathing.

The difference in attitude towards water conservation among Russian and European (or American) cosmonauts is not felt only because there is no water tap on the ISS. It is on the Earth that it cannot be closed, and from it the water will flow all the day. In space, for each action a certain amount of water is allocated strictly. But communicating, on business trips or preparing for a flight, you observe that foreign colleagues treat the water more accurately.

To the inhabitant of the Earth, to start the day, you need to wash and boil coffee. On the ISS, we are, in fact, doing the same. If there are no urgent experiments that need to be carried out immediately, after the spillage we go to wash. I prefer coffee, and I started my working day on the ISS with a "space cup." This is not a tube, as in tubes on board the station has long contained only some seasonings and honey. This is a sealed package, in which you just need to add water, wait three to four minutes, and the coffee is ready. Not all cosmonauts like coffee, some prefer tea, but the principle remains the same.

They say that swimming in something is akin to weightlessness. According to my feelings - weightlessness is, rather not swimming, but flying. Although some elements of navigation while moving through the station are still present. I felt that moving on the ISS, making these smooth, leisurely movements, I feel like "a fish in the water." And this expression popped up in my head quite often.

I really like to look out of the window to the night cities, no matter where they are, but most of our planet is covered with water. And the favorite "water" corner of the Earth for me as in the first and second flight was the Caribbean. The gradient colors of the sea there is so mesmerizing, that it is impossible to come off. And neither a camera nor a film can convey the colors that a human eye can see from a height. Feeling that you are looking at some precious stone, shimmering in the sun. You seem to even feel the temperature of the water, its warmth. And it seems that if you dive right now, it will be exactly what you imagined it to be.

Upon returning from the ISS, the habit of careful attitude is retained, not only with water. Space flight completely changes the world view, changes attitude towards the planet. Not even at the level of consciousness, but at the level of sensations there is an understanding that the Earth is very small, very fragile and should be protected. And that water is an extremely precious resource that must necessarily be preserved in order to continue to exist.

The question of the Moon or Mars colonization is very complicated, and many of its aspects are connected with water. As far as I know, scientists are not faced with the task of delivering large water volumes somewhere. Colonizing the Moon, we will start from how much water there's directly on the Moon itself, and whether we can use it. And it is to the places where there is water the location of scientific stations is tied. Water in such projects is considered as a key moment and starting point. But this, in my opinion, is still too early to think of, and future generations of scientists who will find water on celestial bodies not theoretically but practically will answer these questions.

I think that the "no return point" has not been passed yet. Because science and technology are developing. In the XIX century it was believed that the population of cities cannot be too large. After all, a layer of manure from horses, on which people move, then reach one and a half meters! But humanity invented an internal combustion engine. And for sure, what seems like an environmental disaster now, in the future will be a completely solvable task. I hope that we will receive some new technologies that will make the problem of water scarcity not so acute, and our grandchildren or great-grandchildren will be able to solve it.

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