From sleeping to showering: 7 daily routines in space
Ever wondered what it’d be like to live on the International Space Station (ISS)? Great views? Yup. Short commute? You bet. Long way to your loved ones? Unfortunately, that too.
Here’s one more thing to consider – your daily routine. You’d still have to do all the little tasks, like washing and cooking, even though you’d be, well, out of this world. So how difficult is it to get this stuff done 435 kilometres above the Earth?
Astronauts on the ISS are scheduled for eight hours of shut-eye per night. That’s a good amount for a person on Earth too.
But since the ISS has microgravity, the astronauts attach themselves to tiny sleeping cubicles. Otherwise they would float around and might hurt themselves. This brings a whole new meaning to tucking yourself in for the night!
After a good night’s sleep, it’s time for breakfast. So how do you cook in space, and what kind of food can you eat?
There’s actually a lot to choose from – fruit, vegetables, chicken, seafood, candy, etc. Some meals are ready-to-eat, some you prepare by heating in an oven or adding water. You can also add some flavor with salt and pepper – but it’ll be in liquid form. Otherwise it will float around. This is no joke (salt in the eyes stings!) because it could clog the ISS’s air vents.
Going to the bathroom
What do you do when nature calls in space? Microgravity makes this more than a little tricky. But no need to worry. The ISS is equipped with special toilets. These are basically vacuum cleaners, meaning that all the ick is sucked away.
And here’s another fun but slightly gross fact – astronauts’ urine is actually recycled as drinking water on the ISS. Yup, for real.
Taking a walk
Feel like some fresh air? In space it’s not at all easy to go for a stroll. Any time an astronaut leaves a vehicle while in space – that’s a spacewalk. Also known as an EVA (extravehicular activity).
Astronauts perform spacewalks when performing maintenance or repairs on the ISS. They can also test new equipment or carry out science projects during a spacewalk.
Spacewalks usually last five to eight hours. But the preparation is a long process – astronauts have to put the spacesuit on several hours before their stellar stroll.
Due to the conditions in space, astronauts need to train two hours a day to prevent bone and muscle loss. They keep fit with things like weight lifting devices and treadmills. All that exercise equipment has to be designed to operate in microgravity.
Astronauts also train on the ISS for fun. In 2007 NASA astronaut Sunita Williams became the first person to complete a marathon in space. Impressive, eh?
After an intense workout, it’s time to hit the shower. But in microgravity you don’t have the luxury of running water. The surface tension makes water stick to you, and it doesn’t rinse off from your skin. On the ISS astronauts either add a little water straight to their skin or to a washing cloth. Then they just wipe themselves gently with it. Kind of like camping, but with warm water.
But think about washing long hair in space – it could get tricky. If you’re heading for the stars, you may want to consider a shorter cut.
Brushing your teeth
Okay, it’s the end of another busy day on the ISS. Time to brush your teeth. But you bump into the same problem as when you showered – no running water.
Astronauts use just enough water to make the brush wet. They use regular Earth toothpaste, and they brush their teeth in the same way we all do. But what happens to the toothpaste? Where do you spit it? The answer is: you don’t. In space you do the thing that your parents always said not to do – swallow your toothpaste.