- May 25, 2011
- near Blacksburg, VA
It was indeed a spectacle to see astronauts in full space suits, floating outside the International Space Station (ISS), performing a "space walk". They successfully changed some of the batteries for the solar panels. It required only 6 hours of life-endangering, gravity-free labor.
Changing the battery of my laptop or cell phone or camera requires 20 seconds, and I can just wear a t-shirt and jeans.
In the many spots of news coverage of the ISS battery change, I saw no mention of why the battery locations were engineered to be so damn difficult to reach. Why weren't they placed on the exterior of the ISS crew cabins, with an interior access panel?
Of course, some of you have phones and computers that were manufactured intentionally to make it quite difficult if not impossible to change their batteries. Presumably those engineering choices were dictated by sartorial considerations (thinner, lighter), rather than the more nefarious motive of encouraging consumers to replace the device when its battery is spent.
My fascination with the ISS battery change is that not one single journalist who reported on the space walk seemed to find it odd that a battery change should be so fraught. And that lack of puzzlement may be the same cultural anesthesia that enables consumers to purchase products with so short a life expectancy that battery changing is only an afterthought.
Perhaps it's the same phenomenon that leads consumers of tobacco products to just accept what they are offered by the marketeers. As a member of this forum, I want to be able to easily change my own Nicotiana tabacum batteries