Martha Stewart talks with space station astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria and Sunita Williams via a video link. Image courtesy of USA Today and The Martha Stewart Show.
Last week USA Today reported on a remarkable video call between the current ISS crew and Martha Stewart, which took place January 22. While they quip that “no place seems less likely to interest Martha Stewart, the guru of gracious living,” her significant other, Charles Simonyi, heads to the ISS in April as the fifth space tourist, and I’m sure Martha merely wanted to make sure that they put out the good linens.
All joking aside, however, this call brings up an interesting, surely deprioritized factor in orbital living — is there any way to “home-ify” a living space where every square inch of usable space is, well, used?
Stewart noted … that there are limited options for spiffing up the station, whose interior is a jumble of computers and research gear. “You can’t hang curtains. Everything has to be tied down,” she pointed out. “It could be, maybe, modernized a little bit and made a little more sleek inside.”
— USA Today
The astronauts themselves are at a loss: as Sunita (Suni) Williams put it, “…if you’ve got any tips for how we could fix up the place or make some better meals, we’d welcome that.” NASA’s dietary offerings, no matter how glorified, still come dehydrated or freeze-dried. As for “fixing up the place”, good luck: check out this and this, just for a taste. I’m surprised Martha managed to keep her cool, the interior of the ISS is her personal version of Hell.
Although the astronauts have no real choice in the matter (nor room for complaint), future waves of space tourists will naturally demand different, better, healthier food. Charles will be packing meals developed by French chef Alain Ducasse, approved by the Russian officials, that are far more gourmet — I dare NASA to scribble “duck” on ANY tube or package they send up. Martha wasn’t inclined to criticize NASA’s offerings, but I personally can’t fathom them expanding beyond the staple foods they offer now. Inevitably, food offerings for suborbital and orbital flights and stays will have to improve. The elite who can currently afford to go will not suffer to suck on a tube of overcooked steak, I’d wager.
As for interiors, I would imagine that, similarly, a compromise must eventually be reached between function and form. The orbiting living spaces of today are all function, out of “necessity” that may or may not be as advertised. Visitors, however, will crave less clutter. Curtains may be out of the picture, but other niceties may not be.