Things you may not know about how our ship operates

Luke Demetrios

Thus far we haven’t much troubled to provide a detailed account of our ship’s functioning, because we’re aware of what a vast body of data you have available to you. After 16 prior successful missions, with videos and text constantly being transmitted back to Earth, those of you who care to know the workings of the Ibn Battutah can be practically as well-informed as we are. Still, there are some details you may not yet appreciate.

For example, you may not realize how much blood we’ve had floating around in zero-gee—unless, of course, you’ve been watching Scott’s vivid videos. Our small, sound-proof “rooms” provide a welcome escape from social interaction when we so desire (and we all often do), but after a time stopped up in a room, one tends to want to exercise large muscles and bounce about the bubble. As we’ve discovered on multiple occasions, for those still getting their “space legs,” this can be hazardous.

One of the most exhaustively well-documented aspects of the transit ships is their ability to reprocess liquid and solid waste into edible form. What has most surprised me about the system as it actually functions, though, is neither taste nor texture but the seeming inability of my shipmates to refrain from making scatological Captain Picard references while using the device.

There’s also the matter of graffiti. Since upon our arrival the bulk of the Ibn Battutah will be parked in orbit, at the end of a chain of prior transit vessels for potential emergency use only, there’s a sense among its crew that it will—indeed, should—function as a museum dedicated to the memory of our flight. Unsurprisingly given her profession, Amber has taken the lead on “customizing” her room with decorative markings. At Emma’s request, Amber has drawn on the walls of Emma’s room too. It seems inevitable that this practice will eventually spread to the public areas of the ship, though at present Captain Boyle (and NASA policy) forbids it.

Finally, you may be surprised—given the closeness of our quarters, and the several people packed into them—at how possible it is to move about the ship unnoticed. Here in my room, I have little sense of where my shipmates are; I can only presume they are for the most part where they were when I came into my room a short while ago. I can sense through vibrations when my immediate neighbors enter and exit their rooms, but I don’t know if anyone is entering and exiting with them—and I certainly have very little idea as to what’s happening on the other side of the interior stem. When all of us are in our rooms, as is the norm at night, a substantial amount of unobserved activity would be possible.

I’ve experienced this myself when, being unable to sleep, I’ve occasionally ventured out of my room at night to find myself alone in the bubble. With the interior lights deactivated, and my shipmates all stowed away, those have been the only occasions on which I’ve found myself truly enjoying the opportunity to look out onto the stars.


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Photo: NASA