It's been an eventful week. Earlier in the week I suffered a massive allergic reaction to shellfish, which very nearly prevented me from fulfilling a lifelong dream: podcasting in space for HowStuffWorks.
Fortunately, a swift recovery allowed me to take part in this special collaboration between HowStuffWorks and Podcastronomy. The venerable group promotes science, space travel and, of course, the podcast medium by sending suitable podcast hosts into space (me!).
This trip will give us the opportunity to explore the effects of microgravity, radiation exposure and isolation on a podcaster's ability to record sponsor ads ("Even in space, Casper mattresses are incredibly comfortable!").
In preparation for the trip, I underwent an intense training montage, in which I completed nearly three pull-ups. And while I made it through training, it wasn't without setbacks. For example, did you know that most astronauts say that shrimp cocktail is their favorite space food? And did I mention I had an allergic reaction earlier in the week to shellfish? I am stuck eating a paste that tastes almost but not quite like turkey meatloaf.
Recording is taking place aboard a special converted Cygnus spacecraft made out to be an audio recording studio. The Cygnus is docked to the ISS but is separate from the rest of the crew capsule so that they don't have to listen to podcasters constantly going off topic. Apparently, space science requires a lot of intense concentration.
The cylindrical Cygnus measures about 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter and is almost 17 feet (5 meters) tall, meaning it's absolutely massive compared to the cupboard where I record TechStuff. Bonus: I don't have to share this spacecraft with Stuff You Should Know host Josh Clark's mountainous supply of cashews.
I'll soon record "How Pencil Sharpeners Work" for TechStuff while I'm up here. It's been on the calendar for two months, and I can't change it. For HowStuffWorks Now, I'll be covering a story about Wrestlemania 32 while the ISS crosses over Texas. And for Fw:Thinking, because we've already covered all the space-themed topics, which, in hindsight, was a little foolish, I'll look at "The Future of Carpet."
When not recording, I will be helping astronauts conduct scientific experiments, such as the effects of microgravity on making puns. I have already been told that any puns using the phrase "that's heavy" will automatically be disqualified from consideration (see podcast example above).
This is just the beginning of Podcastronomy's exciting work with sending podcasters into space. Several other potential candidates may soon follow in my space footsteps. I hear that Ira Glass may be next, and there's serious talk of putting Joe Rogan in a rocket just for kicks. In some ways, we're all behind the times. Word is, Matt Frederick and Ben Bowlin of Stuff They Don't Want You To Know record their shows on the far side of the moon.
I look forward to my adventures up here, but I really can't wait to get back down because the toilets in this place are bonkers.