Watching GMA this morning I saw Diane Sawyer talking to the Astronauts on the Space Shuttle. I got to thinking that every time we see people in space in the shuttle or on the International Space Station they are frolicking in a completely disheveled space… There are wires and gizmoes floating about, tethers on everything and the place looks to be in a state of general disarray.
Why is the shuttle always so cluttery? How come they do not make the inside nicely panelled and sleek ala Kubricks Space station in 2001? Can’t they hide the wires and general debris that litters the inside of the shuttle?
Speculation here (until someone knowledgeably comes along) - Necessity. They do what is necessary and don’t bother with pretty. At something like $10,000 per pound to launch, sleek panels cost a fortune every launch. Plus the tools needed to take the panels off if there’s a problem.
Then there’s space. Not the final frontier, just the room inside. They have crap everywhere because they don’t have room to hover it all neatly in a corner. The shuttle isn’t that big and they bring a lot of stuff up there.
Every pound of weight put towards making things pretty is a pound of weight taken away from something else, such as mission payload, food or water, structural strength, or safety equipment. There’s a maximum takeoff weight for any craft. If you look at the general cost of launching things into space, it’s on the order of thousands of dollars a pound. They would never add a bunch of panels just to make things look pretty.
Also, having things exposed woule make things easier to service, and might make it easier to spot a fire or other malfunction.
I understand it’s not a movie and real people are in there. But it always looks exceedingly disheveled and decidedly not well put together. I’m not a lab rat, and not accustomed to working in sterile conditions - perhaps scientists are used a certain amount of disarray. But I am not the only one that thinks the space shuttle looks like a teenagers bedroom. And would compartmentalizing really add that much weight?
Isn’t there a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rule to government spending? 25k toilet seat etc…etc… Just kidding…
The smooth panels required for the sleek look of an airplane’s interior all add to weight. While we are used to carrying things about in our earthbound environment and are willing to incur the expense in order to have pleasant surroundings, the cost of hurling decorations into space would seriuously compromise our ability to get the equivalent weight in equipment, experiments, etc. into space. Even light plastic panels have some weight when they are set up over all the internal bulkheads of a ship.
That is the primary reason.
In addition, if we paneled all the walls, we would need to find places to store all the panels every time they needed to be removed to service the equipment.
IIRC, you work at a college. Go over to the physics department and take a look at a real scientist’s laboratory here on Earth. It looks just like the space station, only much worse. That’s what reality looks like. People go to movies to escape reality.
Sleekness consumes space and time. (It takes much longer to haul things out of neat compartments and then tidy things up afterward. And most experiments can’t be put away into a compartment at the end of the day. They run continually.) Sleekness is worthless except as an aesthetic, and there’s no good reason any real scientists would bother with aesthetics when they’re trying to get something accomplished.
First off, anything you don’t want floating about has to be nailed, cliped, velcroed, whatever. In a teenager’s bedroom, at least things stay where the teenager flings them…not so in orbit.
There are some practical problems when you consider the devices we earthbound folks use to keep things neat and organized:
Shelves depend on gravity for thier function. So no shelves need apply for freefall duty.
Drawers: Ever have an overstuffed drawer jam on you? In free fall the stuff in the drawer will likely as not find it’s way into a position to jam the drawer, even if the drawer is almost empty…so no drawers.
Cabinets, these could work if you don’t mind having something float into the way occasionally as you try to close the door…and of course you’d need a pigion hole for every item if you want the stuff in the cabinet to stay organized…heavy.
Next, our sense of asthetics and neatness is conditioned by living in a gravitational enviroment. When “Setting something down” on the “cieling” becomes a realistic alternative, the rest of the rules kind of get thrown out the window.
Yes, one of my closest friends is a Botany Prof. and his office and work environment is atrocious, I tell him that all the time. I guess my biggest gripe is that I would think having things dangling around like on the ISS and Shuttle leaves more room for breaking or tearing or effing something up. Where a clean environment you’d be less likely to snag your foot on the ultra-expensive, oxygen enriching, core body temperature regulating, life support line.
This and similar responses regarding the weight of interior trim are all true, but there’s an even more fundamental reason why the interior of the Shuttle looks like an amateur inventor’s workshop: the Shuttles are all essentially experimental vehicles. They’re each handmade, essentially one of a kind craft, and much of the equipment used for various experiments was cobbled up, subjected to sufficient loads to assure it wouldn’t come apart in flight, and bolted in place with little concern for asthetics. Heck, the same thing is true even for production military hardware; climb inside the cargo bay of a C-17 and you won’t see smooth panels and padded chairs; you’ll see open bulkheads and stringers, exposed wiring and conduit, and tie-down chains hanging everywhere like something out of an Aliens movie.
And if you think that’s bad, take a look at the interior of a Gemini capsule; they put those things together so fast that stuff was often wiretied in place to expose bulkheads and covered with a layer of electrical tape or spiral wrap. They make the DeLorean in the Back To The Future movies look like a professional job.
Making things sleek and polished-looking costs money, a lot of money, especially if you’re only making one or two at a time. Imagine how much it would cost, for instance, to make the interior of your car if it the injection-molded dash and the contoured leather seats were all made by hand, from scratch, rather than in lots of ten thousand. And of course, everything has to be spec’d, TRD’d, sourced, confirmed, pedigreed, qualified, checked, catalogued, integrated, rechecked, stamped, signed, certified, and prayed over. It’s not just the weight of adding stuff to the payload; you’re also upping the cost. To large measure, it doesn’t matter if it’s a flight critical bolt or an incidental plastic straw; NASA, a true bureaucracy, is going to hold it to the same procurement and quality control standard, and all of that costs money. You’d be sensitive about it, too, if your every decision and purchase were being second and third guessed by every critic and politician.
When Stanley Kubrick can make his own spacecraft as sleek as he likes. Of course, his craft are 1:50 scale models, and his interiors are built inside a soundstage; if something breaks, or fails, or is difficult to access, he just stops filming and has the carpenter get a new bit from supply and fix it. For NASA, getting the Shuttle to fly up and come back without shaking apart is the major priority; appearance is (mostly) way far down on the list.
I don’t know much about space shuttles, so I’ll come at it from the opposite direction.
Floating stuff in movies requires money, either for an optical process shot, or for a practical effect. Set dressing: ditto, costs money. Sleek panels are cheaper, Hollywood-wise.
Furthermore, the goal of cinematography is to frame the action so that the eye is naturally drawn to the important parts of the screen. A cluttered station might be realistic, but it would also be very “busy,” in a visual sense, and would distract the viewer from the focus of the scene.
Last, clutter and floating objects play hell with continuity. Sleek panels do not.