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Koichi Wakata, the astronaut who didn't change his underwear for one month  (Source: AP)
China outlines certain requirements for astronauts; astronaut's underwear used in study; and a 10-person panel discusses the future of NASA

China is now recruiting new astronauts to send into space, with each candidate forced to meet a laundry list of rules and requirements -- both expected rules and rather obtuse ones.  Astronauts cannot have bad breath, body odor, tooth cavities, or scars, as they may burst open while in orbit.  The space agency hopes to recruit so-called "super human beings," though all married astronauts must have supportive wives, or they're automatically disqualified.

"Bad body odour will affect the colleagues in the narrow confines of a space shuttle," according to Shi Binbin, 454th Air Force Hospital doctor recently said.

Specifically, there are 100 physical and mental requirements that must be satisfied before advancing in the program, including no runny noses.  China isn't currently involved in the International Space Station (ISS) project, but the country plans to launch a space module in 2010, then hopes to dock with it in 2011.

JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, who recently returned to Earth aboard shuttle Endeavour, didn't change his underwear for one month, which will allow scientists to better evaluate the development of new high-tech underwear.  Wakata said there were no complaints, and the underwear worn has built-in anti-bacterial, odor-eliminating, anti-static, water-absorbent, flame retardant features.

For long-term space missions -- including possible trips to Mars -- underwear that doesn't require frequent washing may be vital, and similar experiments could be possible.

A new panel looking into future NASA space missions plan to tell President Barack Obama it would be wiser to research deep space and stop putting so much emphasis into moon and Mars landing missions.  The panel believes sending astronauts to unexplored, far-reaching parts of the solar system may be better than focusing on the moon and Mars, which would likely be delayed for several decades.

The future of NASA has been widely discussed, especially as the retirement of the current shuttle fleet is less than one year away.  In the near future, the U.S. space agency plans to work on the ISS, then will shift focus to a possible moon landing by 2025.  Other space nations, including China, Japan, India, and Russia also plan to launch missions to the moon -- including manned shuttle launches, probes, and possible rovers.

Aside from missions, money also has been widely discussed.

“In fact, it is unclear whether NASA has the financing for any scenarios that do anything important beyond low-Earth orbit prior to 2020,” said Princeton professor Christopher Chyba, who serves on the 10-person panel.  “If we really want to do this, we have to provide a realistic budget for it. Otherwise, let’s be clear about the limits placed on us by the actual budget.”

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Reality sucks
By 3minence on 8/3/2009 8:54:46 AM , Rating: 4
Forget about the moon and Mars? Although I'm unhappy about it, I must agree. If you want it, you must pay for it. If you won't pay for it, quit dreaming.

I really must disagree with Mr. Obama on this. Animals care only about the moment, like filling their stomachs and procreating. We are more than animals because we understand things like morals, we question our place in the universe, we try to learn. The current administration only seems to be interested in the here and now, not about what makes us better in the long run. I really think by focusing on our problems here, we are losing what made this country great, and that is imagination and a drive to achieve the unachievable.

I know, naivety at its worse.

RE: Reality sucks
By justadcomics on 8/3/2009 9:26:23 AM , Rating: 5
Not naive at all. I think that this country has lost something vital, its sense of exploration & wonder. I know that the space race in the 1960's was mostly national chest-thumping, but ... look at the amazing things that were accomplished in an incredibly short period of time!

This country needs something bigger than every day problems to focus its amazing creative powers on. Instead of turning ever-inward, we should be heading out to see what's out there, for crying out loud.

I miss the excitement that gripped not only this country, but the entire civilized world when Gemini & Apollo were going full-tilt (not quite old enough to remember Mercury :) )

The Space Shuttle, while an amazing piece of equipment, just ... doesn't GO ANYWHERE! Probably the biggest mistake we as a nation took when we went from going to the Moon, to driving a delivery truck. We should have been to Mars by now, if not even further out.

When a country or a culture ceases to explore, it's not only lost something vital, it's on a slippery slope to senescence and eventual collapse.

We need to head back out!

RE: Reality sucks
By jkostans on 8/3/2009 9:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
I couldn't have said it better than the previous two posts

RE: Reality sucks
By Bateluer on 8/3/2009 9:54:15 AM , Rating: 2
Seconded. At the rate NASA is going, by the time they're able to put a human on the Moon again, the environmentalist nuts will force an environmental impact study and delay it for another few decades.

Anyone else get ticked off that on the 40th anniversary of the Lunar Landing, head line news was dominated by the death of a pedophile and conspiracy theorists articles? The greatest thing Humans have ever done in our entire history pushed aside for nonstop coverage of a singer that no one will remember a scant few decades.

RE: Reality sucks
By MrPoletski on 8/4/2009 8:59:59 AM , Rating: 2
I think that this country has lost something vital, its sense of exploration & wonder. I know that the space race in the 1960's was mostly national chest-thumping, but ...


The moon landings were a fantasticly amazing thing to have done. When I first saw the ball game announcement (we interrupt this game to tell you that the apollo 11 mission has landed, safely, on the moon) I felt the tear ducts tingle a little and I'm not even American. I don't care who did it. It didn't so much prove 'american superiority' or come across as an act of 'national chest thumping' it proved it could be done and that us humans are more than just ants crawling around on an oversized dung-ball.

For the first time in the history of EVER - millions of years of human history - we got off this rock and went 'check this place out!'.

\o/ Armstrong, Aldrin, collins \o/

RE: Reality sucks
By Tsuwamono on 8/3/2009 3:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
Its not just your country. Canada had Trudeau who was extremely disliked at the time because he did many unpopular things. He was the only prime minister who has unanimously hated by the french AND the english during his term but after the fact was considered one of the greatest of Prime Ministers.

Thinking ahead sometimes requires doing things that are unpopular at the moment and true patriots think about the COUNTRY'S best interests and not about re-election. Trudeau is the type of leader who got things done here in Canada. I'm not sure if americans have an equivalent.

RE: Reality sucks
By JediJeb on 8/3/2009 6:20:15 PM , Rating: 2
Ronald Reagan is probably the closest we have receintly had who got things done here. He did things that people did not like at the time then took for granted later on such as getting inflation under control. Just like Arnold is doing in California with cutting programs to get their deficit under control. Sometimes you have to make the unpopular decisions to do what is best.

As for space, I think there should be more focus on it right now. If there had been $800billion put into space research that money would have made its way into the economy and been a stimulus and kick started some serious new space R&D. What could companies like SpaceX do with a few billion in research funds?

RE: Reality sucks
By MrPoletski on 8/4/2009 8:51:49 AM , Rating: 2
I really must disagree with Mr. Obama on this. Animals care only about the moment, like filling their stomachs and procreating. We are more than animals because we understand things like morals, we question our place in the universe, we try to learn.

If animals are only about the moment, then where did the phrase an elephant never forgets come from?

How is it that an dog can come to know you as a companion/master and not bark at you like a burglur every time it sees you? That relationship is not created overnight.

My cats used to love balloons when they were kittens. 15 years after the first one popped in their face and they are STILL petrified of them.

Animals dream, animals have emotions and animals have there own, if primitive, sense of right and wrong which is in line with their survival characteristics.

The difference between us and animals is that our brain is far, far more developed from a social interaction perspective. We have developed far beyond simple tool making (such as made by birds and chimps) to produce computers etc.. which are still just tools to achieve our ends. We are able to do this because our brains have a much greater ability to process complex logic problems than other animals.

In other words, the ability 'to think' is orders of magnitude superior in humans vs your average anaimal. Cognative function, logical thought, planning, task specialisation and a built in level of curiosity are what have dragged us out of our caves and into our sports cars. All of which we appear to do better than any other animal. We are the only animal that appears to share all these qualities, but we are not the only animal to share some of these qualities, all of these qualities exist in the animal kingdom.

We are far greater than any other animal living on this planet, but don't assume that there is something 'special' about us that could never appear in an animal because that's just kidding yourself.

RE: Reality sucks
By JediJeb on 8/4/2009 10:02:05 AM , Rating: 2
I am also am fond of my animals, but the last part of your post just confirmed what the original poster said. Though animals show traits of personality and bonding it still doesn't mean they aspire to higher learning. My animals for all their personality and uniqueness are still mainly focused on eating, sleeping and procreating. If they are playing with a toy and I throw some food down for them they leave the toy and run to the food. The same is not true with most humans. In fact if we are limited to only satisfying our basic needs then we usually become bored and restless. We work puzzles, explore, compete in sports and games and many other things to keep our minds active and growing that most animals do not do, nor need to do. It is what separates us from them.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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