Packing for Mars

There has not been a space geekout for quite some time. So I will make it quick and painless. I read a book some time ago.

Packing for Mars

It’s like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Low Earth Orbit… but for real!

The book is called “Packing for Mars” and to be honest, it doesn’t have to do much with Mars per se. The book just basically describes all the little intimate details that you need to consider when bringing humans in space. Things like how they are going to breathe, eat, drink, poop and do the other things. Not because they are easy but because they are hard. And in fact they are very hard in space. And of course the best chapters are the kinky chapters that deal with poop and sex (I’m talking about two unrelated chapters, just to make it clear). But there are also some other quite fascinating topics.

One thing that griped me was the detailed analysis of what exactly happened to the astronauts in during the Columbia disaster. It turns out that the husband of one of the astronauts from the Columbia crew works on a team at NASA trying to develop technology to make accidents like that survivable. We are talking about exiting a vehicle during atmospheric re-entry. But then the physics so far up in the atmosphere are so different that the challenges become quite surreal. It turns out one of the major problems is not actually heat or pressure but the shockwaves of debris. At such high supersonic velocities, each object leaves behind a tail-like shockwave being able to cut an astronaut into pieces. A horrifying but quite intriguing realization.

There are more of such fascinating details and facts in the book. If you like space and ever wondered what it is like to really go up there, I suggest you give it a try. It is written in a light tone, aiming at a wide audience. I basically swallowed it in just a day or two.

The author Mary Roach (mmh, reminds me of StarCraft 2) wrote similar books on other cool topics. She wrote a book on the scientific exploration of sex
and death as well as the scientific attempts to search for the soul. All of them sound fascinating and I already put them on my Kindle. If you are still on the edge, there is an excellent podcast with her that gives you a bit of an idea what the books are about.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Packing for Mars”

  1. Yacine

    Very cool, that just went to the top of my wish list. Have you ever read the Mars trilogy? It’s a bit long, but a fascinating look at the future colonization and terraforming of Mars.

    Here’s the first of the three books:

  2. adamsmithalevel

    awesone book recommendation!

    hmm… packing for mars, what will gravity do to my luggage bag? (”,)


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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