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.