Astronaut barf bags: How to throw up in space without getting a face full of floating vomit

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  • 'Astronaut barf bag' has a liner to wipe your face, and a resealable zip lock
  • Over half of astronauts throw up when they first arrive in space

By Victoria Woollaston

PUBLISHED: 06:38 EST, 1 May 2013 | UPDATED: 08:31 EST, 1 May 2013

If you've wondered how astronauts throw up in zero gravity, wonder no more. 

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station, has produced a video revealing a specially designed 'astronaut barf bag'.

The bag is designed with a lining to wipe your face after throwing up, and a plastic zip lock bag that stops the vomit floating back into your face.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station, has produced a video explaining how astronauts throw up in space using 'barf bags'

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station, has produced a video explaining how astronauts throw up in space using 'barf bags'

 
Commander Hadfield is one of six astronauts on the International Space Station that make up Expedition 35

Hadfield is one of six astronauts on the International Space Station that make up Expedition 35

Hadfield produced the video in response to questions from students about life in space. 

In the video he said 'When we first get to space, we feel sick.

'Your body is really confused. You're dizzy. Your lunch is floating around in your belly because you're floating. 

'What you see doesn't match what you feel, and you want to throw up.

Hadfield then reaches for what the 'astronaut barf bag'. 

'Think about what happens on Earth when you throw up," Hadfield continued.

'You throw up and you have a bag of something horrible and then you throw it away, but if I have this bag, what am I going to do with it? 

'This bag is going to stay with me in space for months, so we want a really good barf bag.'

The 'astronaut barf bags' have paper liners attached to a plastic bag.

In the video, Hadfield demonstrates how astronauts cover their face with the liner and throw up into the bag.

Astronauts then use the liner to wipe their face before pushing it into the bag, before using the zip lock to seal it in.

The video was from a series of Q&As that Hadfield has created. 

He streams the answers straight from the space station. 

Some of his previous videos have explained how to cook spinach, clip your nails and wring out a wet cloth. 

WHAT CAUSES SPACE SICKNESS

Space adaptation syndrome (SAS) or space sickness affects around half of astronauts and is caused by zero gravity, weightlessness, and other changes in G-forces.

The mismatch between what the eyes see and what the body feels has led scientists to think that space sickness is similar to car sickness. 

Dr. Victor Schneider, research medical officer for NASA's Biomedical Research and Countermeasures Program said 'When people go up into space, many immediately get space sickness'

'Not all astronatus are affected, but most will get symptoms ranging from mild headaches to vertigo and nausea.'

Before blasting off, astronauts acclimatise their bodies to the changes in G-forces by riding the 'vomit comet' - a KC-135 airplane that flies parabolic arcs to create short periods of weightlessness.

The brain then starts to adapt.

'Space sickness relieves itself after about 3 days, although individual astronauts and cosmonauts may have a relapse at any time during their mission,' Schneider says.

Nasa announced in January it is working on a fast-acting, anti-nausea nasal spray. 

At the moment, anti-nausea medicine can only be taken as a tablet, via a transdermal patching or injected because of the zero gravity.
 


 

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