A Place Called Space
Day 21

Supported by Wellcome Trust

Stories from space

Astronauts have the best anecdotes. Seasoned spacefarers Helen Sharman, Daniel Tani and Michael Barratt think back to their time in the stars.

  • Illustration of fires on the earth

    Planet Earth from space.

    Credit: Andrew Khosravani

How many astronauts does it take to change a lightbulb?

Simple tasks take on a whole new significance in space. Daniel Tani explains why changing a lightbulb only needs one astronaut, but takes two and half hours!

How many astronauts does it take to change a lightbulb? Credit: Andrew Khosravani

Practical jokes with the President

Practical jokes and general mischief are a long-standing tradition of space flight. In this clip, Daniel Tani recalls a time when he and his crewmates played a game of hide and seek with ground control just moments before the President arrived.

illustration by Andrew Khosravani

Pranks in space. Credit: Andrew Khosravani

Ill-suited for life on Earth

Readjusting to life on earth is far from straightforward. The body adapts to a weightless environment, and thrusting it back under the pressure of gravity has some uncomfortable consequences. Michael Barratt discusses the practical problems of re-acclimatising.

illustration by Andrew Khosravani

Grappling with gravity. Credit: Andrew Khosravani

Seeing man from space

Looking down from the Mir space station, Helen Sharman couldn’t see any individual people. She could, however, see the tell-tale signs of our presence: the wake of a boat, the trail of an aeroplane, and the vast fires of the Gulf War.

illustration by Andrew Khosravani

The fires of man from above. Credit: Andrew Khosravani

Watch a shooting star

We see meteorites in the night sky, fleeting blazes of light as they fizzle out in our atmosphere. But what would they look like from above? Michael Barratt recalls seeing a meteorite hurtle towards earth from above, marvelling at a unique perspective on a beautiful event, and feeling a tense awareness of how vulnerable astronauts are, drifting unprotected in space.

illustration by Andrew Khosravani

Riding a shooting star. Credit: Andrew Khosravani

Interviews conducted by Ed Prosser and Jon Farrow, illustrations by Andrew Khosravani.

Hear more from these interviews in our videos: Living in space and The view from space

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo