My Address in Space

Me in Node 2, Deck 5, ISS, LEO 51.603.If my family and friends were to write me a letter, what address wouldthey use? When I type my name on one of my stories, what address should Igive?

It occurred to me that Space Station is a place as deserving of anaddress as other frontier stations like McMurdo Base or theAmundsen-Scott South Pole Base in Antarctica. These places have formaladdresses, complete with zip codes. Even Navy ships have addresses. Withthe future development of commercial spaceships, I could realisticallycontemplate someone sending me a letter. So what address would they use?Do they need a zip code? Do you affix an “airmail stamp” or do wecreate a new category of “rocket mail” stamps? If Space Station were tohave an address, instead of writing letters to Santa Claus asking forstuff, kids could write letters to astronauts asking questions aboutscience and engineering.

My sleep station, a coffin-sized box, is located in the fifth deckspace of Node 2. From an Earth-based perspective, I pop out of my sleepstation as if I were coming out of the floor. I am thus situated on theInternational Space Station (ISS) in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with anorbital inclination of 51.6 degrees (the angle of our orbit plane to theequator) and an average altitude of 400 kilometers. It occurred to methat my address should be: Node 2, Deck 5, ISS, LEO 51.603. The firstthree digits of your space zip code would be your orbital inclinationand the last two a designator for your particular space station, withISS being the third in this location (after the Salyut series and Mir).This zip code nomenclature should suffice, at least until there are morethan 99 different space stations in orbit.

Don’s blog also appears at airspacemag.com.

26 thoughts on “My Address in Space”

  1. Interesting thought. I’ll mail you a letter right now… Hope it gets there before you leave or maybe it will be there waiting for you when you arrive on your next expedition! :O)

  2. ich wünsche allen Astro- und Kosmonauten eine erfolgreiche Arbeit auf der ISS, zum Wohle der Menschheit.

  3. Hi Don,

    Great thinking about addresses in space, but I think you missed a space station: Skylab.
    The correct address then would be “Node 2, Deck 5, ISS, LEO 51.604”

    I enjoy reading blogs from LEO… Thanks!

  4. Don,
    I think you may need to modify your zip code. I think it may need to be 51.604

    I did not see Skylab identified in your list of Space Stations.
    If I am mistaken, please explain because I have always thought of Skylab as a Space Station.

    PS – Keep up the great posts. They are very thought provoking and appreciated.
    Thanks
    Trent

  5. Hmm, the Postal Service will have to update their motto:

    “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor solar wind stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” :o)

  6. Hello,

    In my opinion the Logical Way Of that Coding is very cleverly.

    Best Regards,
    Serkan ZERMAN

  7. This is worth putting to the (appropriately named) Universal Postal Union. Following it through you’ll be on a different mail route to the ‘Heavenly Palace’ (inclination 42 degrees?). We may not be able to send fan-mail any time soon though…taking a rough guess of $20,000/kg from Earth to LEO, a brief letter on airmail or old-school onionskin paper will still cost $400!

  8. Mr. Petit’s good to know at any time, if God and the possibilities of factual conditions permit, then I’ll make you a visit for us to drink tea. I’ll take a few biscuits.

  9. Excellent! Now we know your address and zip code, we’ll be sure to write.
    First, we need to find some super-lightweight paper – with the cost per kilogram to LEO, the postage could be … considerable …

  10. Love you post about addresses. But I’d like to point out that ZIPCodes are a US concept only. In the rest of the world, we call them “Postal Codes”.

    And in most places, we use a mix of letters and numbers. So we have lots of opportunities to have fun with a postal code. For instance, Santa’s postal code is H0H 0H0. Perfect.

    Let’s keep the International Space Station…international. Your task is to come up with a postal code scheme that is memorable. Maybe we should include mathematical (Greek) letters, just to make it more space-oriented? Perhaps an entire formula?

    Ideas, anyone?

  11. Petit, there will be another opportunity for us to take tea. Better we combine a cafe on Mars! How about? Is it possible for me and for you, if we work in a timely manner. Ask Charles Bolden because I do not talk nonsense. Trust. Your work is noble and inspiring many people, and certainly children will still with us to Mars, more experienced, more courageous, more desirous of a better world, not only in the physical or geographic, but making us better people. And you are a good example of someone who does something nice, really interesting and constructive. In English I think what is best says “cool”. Accept the proposal and I promise to make you the best coffee typical here in southern Minas Gerais, in the colander. It will be cold, we need to drink some hot drinks. Maybe even a cognac, to strengthen the chest. And in a few weeks and will return, if you want. But to make coffee in a percolator is best for us to be established. 2030 is a prophecy rather than Nibiru. It’s done more than hope, is done with work. My greetings, great astronaut!

  12. 1. I wonder what the stamp would cost? (Do consider that anything on the ISC is probably the most expensive thing there is, by weight.)

    2. I wonder what ink color to use. Black, nah – too much of that out the window, same with blue and brown. White, nah – matches the wall paper. Green, Yah! – not enough green on the ISC. A nice forest-like but vibrant green. Write on a natural textured earth-tone paper.

    See my post on this subject on the Fountain Pen Network:

    http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/221576-snail-mail-to-the-international-space-station/

    Regards, David in Jakarta

  13. This is an excellent idea.
    Also, the “normalization” of life in space through the use of such things as a postal address can only but help prepare the public for the time when space travel will become common.
    Children should learn and feel that space is only an extension of our planet and sky where we have our place as human beings, a place for work and cooperation, a place for discovery and a place for poetry and change.

  14. Dear Don,

    You will notice that my email address ends in rocketmail.com although I am quite earthbound. I see no reason you could not work something out with Yahoo mail as I did to obtain my email address. And as long as you have an internet connection in space you would have no problem. Something like DPetit@rocketmail.com could work. Is there any reason it needs to be as complex as you suggest?

    Respectfully yours,

    Dr. Dean Hey
    NY

  15. Loved your comments about a space zipcode being needed. When I served in the Navy, my rack space where I slept on the top row of three bunks in a space below the regular deck on a Fast Frigate Knoz Class Ship, the USS Valdez. I worked in Operations in the Combat Information Center or CIC. Our FPO was New York, but we were home ported out of Charleston, S.C.

    To make contact with you after your return from your increment onboard the ISS. Safe travels!

    Gary Walters

  16. I recently got permission and sent a letter to JSC for delivery to ISS. I also remade your “Angry Birds Space” experiment and compared it to yours! You inspire this 12 year old kid very much Mr. Pettit!:)

  17. This all sounds perfectly feasible, although do we need to specify whether it’s delivered via Kazakhstan or Cape Canaveral?

  18. Greetings Don…

    Thank you so much for sharing your space experiences with us.
    I enjoy your observations, photography, and perspectives
    (especially as “Squash In Space” …)
    Recognizing the need you have for communication,
    I appreciate the notion of words on paper, post-codes and stamps,
    but that cost is unmanageable. Email and blog surely helps.

    The ham radio contacts with school kids is a great reward,
    both for them and for the crew. You’all are the modern explorers.
    Even casual un-scheduled conversations with us terrestrial hams
    gives us ‘older-kids’ things to dream about, and gives you live
    contact with humans other than MCC-FDs, PODs and PayComs . . .

    Radio waves communicate at the speed of light,
    and you don’t have to wait around for the atoms.

    Thanks & 73 Alan

    P.S. The Skylab missions were at a 50 degree inclination.

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