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pants in space

I know, I know. "Pants in space? So what? All astronauts wear pants in space."

Yes, but the latest space shuttle voyage was different, for one of the crew wore the same pair for a whole month. Yes, you heard me right: one pair - one month.

Call me a stickler for hygiene, but that sounded like a loooong time to have the same piece of cloth wrapped around a part of the body which, following even the most rigorous of bathing rituals, tends to stay fragrant for about as long as it takes Usain Bolt to run the 100 metres......until I heard that these were no ordinary underpants.

Scientists based in Tokyo were trumpeting these prototype pants as being:
  • water-absorbent
  • bacteria-killing
  • anti-static
  • flame-resistant
and most importantly of all,
  • odour-eating

It's not clear whether Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata volunteered for the experiment, or whether his wife put him forward for it.

Either way, Koichi agreed and evidently wasn't put off by the thought of scientists poking around his smalls with tweezers and scalpels upon his return from space.

I was impressed by Koichi's courage to undertake the challenge in the name of science. He's obviously a brave man, though of course he had the security of knowing that these pants were special, designed specifically to be worn for long periods of time; designed not to accumulate hideous odours; designed to absorb nuisance dribbles; designed not to catch fire the day after a kimchi dinner. But then again, it was an experiment - there were no guarantees.

To see what can happen to regular pants when worn for a month, I decided to conduct an experiment of my own. Some people advised me against it. Others said I might end up in hospital. One friend suggested I write my will.

But I was determined.

The first few days went without a hitch. The smell wasn't particularly unpleasant, and psychologically I was holding up well. But after a week, things started turning nasty, and after four weeks, well, you don't want to know.

But I can tell you something - in a month they went from this....

to this....

Regular underpants after not being changed for a month.

I immediately went onto my balcony in my stinking pants, raised my hands to the heavens and shouted loudly, wishing Koichi all the luck in the world and space and far beyond as he sailed above me in his spaceship.

Yesterday Koichi, his pants and the rest of the crew returned safely to Earth, though as they came in to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, there was a tense moment in the cockpit....

Snipers followed Koichi's every move after landing, in case the pants tried to make a run for it.

The snipers had stated unequivocally that, if necessary, they were ready and willing to take the pants out. There's obviously no room for sentimentality when it comes to rancid underpants.

The welcoming party at the Kennedy Space Center was suitably attired for Koichi's homecoming....

The latest reports out of the Space Center are that on first inspection the pants were in good shape, despite them having to be surgically removed.

Whether the experiment is deemed a success or not, there was no doubting the sheer profundity of the incredible moment the other night when Koichi took the first ever space walk for special pants, witnessed live on TV by millions around the world.

It'll be one of those moments in life where you'll never forget what you were doing when it happened (I was watching Koichi do a space walk on TV).

Koichi steps bravely from the shuttle into the great abyss, with his pants on.

Underpants will surely never be the same again.
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On Saturday, 01 August, 2009, Blogger YURIKAMOME said:

I like your blog! It's really fun!!!! Maybe the first time to read long sentences/passages written in English without getting bored and stopping laughing!! Thank you!  

On Sunday, 02 August, 2009, Blogger BBE said:

Very funny, that brightened my day :)

BY the way.....

A Daily Mail reader shouted downstairs to his wife, "Darling, I've forgotten which way round to put my pants on."

His wife shouted back, "How many times do I have to tell you? Yellow at the front, brown at the back."


On Sunday, 02 August, 2009, Blogger CĂ©line said:

Hilarious, as usual :-)  

On Wednesday, 05 August, 2009, Blogger shibatabread said:

I couldn't help but to ponder, why bother with underwear? Why not make the whole space suit with this technology, so that you can go commando in space.
Thanks for the awesome blog.  

On Thursday, 06 August, 2009, Anonymous Scotty.VOR said:

As great a news source as CBBC is, it doesn't actually show what they look like. I'm just praying they were more of a boxer shorts kinda design than a...you know, thong.

I don't care how anti-odour/static/flame or water absorbent they are, I'm not wearing trickle down technology in the form of a jock-strap.  

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