Space Station Sunday: The Hair Up There

This week, the International Space Station welcomed three new crewmates, NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Yelena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev. Their Soyuz space capsule blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan last Thursday afternoon, and docked safely at the ISS after a six-hour flight.

Cosmonaut Serova is an interesting addition to the ISS crew. According to the BBC, the 38-year-old engineer has been training for seven years for her role on the ISS, where she now holds the title of the first-ever Russian female cosmonaut on the space station. One of only four Russian female cosmonauts to ever go into space, Serova has tolerated annoying questions regarding her femininity as it pertains to her job, replying to one question on her prospective hairstyling in space with the rejoinder, "Aren't you interested in the hair styles of my {male} colleagues?" (Full disclosure: during the World Cup, we sure were.)

Regarding the other new crew members, according to NASA, cosmonaut Samokutyaev is currently on his second tour of duty to the ISS, having previously served as a flight engineer on Expedition 27/28 in 2011. Astronaut Wilson is the former pilot of the space shuttle Atlantis, and spent 11 days on the ISS during a mission in 2009.

The delivery of the new crew was the second arrival at the ISS last week, as an unmanned SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule successfully docked on Tuesday. The capsule contains, among other things, a special delivery of zebrafish, which will live in the Japanese "Kibo" module's Aquatic Habitat and will be studied for their particular manifestations of muscle atrophy (a major problem in micro-gravity.) Hopefully the research will allow new breakthroughs to be made in counteracting this issue.

Other experiments delivered by the Dragon include a Rapid Scatterometer, which examines how winds over the Earth's oceans can affect weather patterns. A delivery of experimental mice were also transported up, along with a habitat and research tools pertinent to the mice-mission. No word has yet been offered on how the mice plan on styling their fur.

See you next this space!

The new crew celebrates their safe arrival on the ISS.  Serova, front left, has proven her media-fascinating hair choice (a classic bun) to be stylistically auspicious in the micro-gravity environment (which is prone to creating bad hair days.)  

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