This weekend I watched a tour of the International Space Station (ISS) given by a Dutch astronaut. I expected it to be a spotless, spartan, high tech-laboratory floating 263 miles above sea level. Whoops.
The ISS is, of course, high-tech. And it’s a laboratory. But it’s also a higgledy-piggledy mass of cables and bungee cords, trash bags and laundry. If it were back on earth, it would be a Health & Safety nightmare.
One of the first things you see in the tour video is how all their stationery has Velcro on it. Why? So it doesn’t float around the space station. And they’re not using fancy ‘space stationery’ either. Honestly, it looks just like the contents of someone’s desk; Sellotape, pens and sticky notes.
It was hard to get too complacent watching the video, especially after the astronaut pointed out some emergency guides in case the station lost power or light. Next to them was a small device with a mini keyboard. I thought it was some kind of complex piece of scientific equipment.
As the camera got closer, I realised it was a Brother ‘P-touch’ label printer.
Still, in terms of the extraordinarily mundane, it matched the Epson printer stuck on the wall. Actually, the same room also has their version of an office kitchen microwave. It’s a little metal briefcase used to heat their space food; do you think they have to print labels and signs saying things like ‘Don’t touch my biscuits’?
After all, it’s not like they can pop down to the corner shop to get some more.
Previously on The Euroffice Blog…