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Monday, December 18, 2006

Pollution Even Finds Blacks in Outer Space

The Washington Post recently reported that black astronaut Robert L. Curbeam Jr, left, was exposed to highly toxic ammonia on a previous mission in 2001 and could be exposed again during a risky repair job on the current mission. Disproportionate levels of pollution being located in minority communites is well documented from the environmental justice movement, but we had no idea this extends into low Earth orbit.

In 2001 ammonia leaked from a cooling line and coated Captain Curbeam's spacesuit. His helmet and suit were covered with an inch of frozen ice crystal ammonia and he had to stay outside for an entire orbit so the Sun could evaporate the ammonia. Captain Cuream is replacing a cooling pump on the current space shuttle mission and could be exposed to ammonia again. Capt Curbeam's nickname is Beamer.

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