Jean-Pierre Haigneré onboard Mir
A day in space
Astronauts have very busy lives. Each day in orbit (apart from rest days) is carefully planned by mission control. The times used by the crew are based on those at the mission control centres in Houston, Texas, or Moscow.
The 12-hour working day on the International Space Station begins with a wake-up call. After a quick rub down with a soapy cloth, the crew have breakfast and run through the jobs for the day with mission control.
Space stations are like large, complicated houses that need constant care and attention. A lot of time has to be spent on housekeeping chores – such as cleaning and repairs.
Eating in space
There are three meal sessions – breakfast, lunch and dinner – though drinks and snacks are always available. Much of the crew's time is spent preparing and carrying out scientific experiments. This may involve speaking to scientists on the ground.
At least two hours each day are spent on exercise. This is essential to keep the crew fit and healthy. Loading ferry craft with rubbish and unloading fresh supplies is a major task. Many hours can also be spent getting ready for spacewalks.
Living in Space
The heart and blood change in space, too. When we stand up on Earth, blood goes to our legs. The heart has to work extra hard against gravity to move the blood all around the body. In space, without the pull of gravity, the blood moves to the upper body and head. Water in the body also does the same thing. It makes the astronauts' faces look puffy. The blood and water are fluids in the body. These fluids move from the bottom of the body to the top. The brain thinks that there are too many fluids. It will tell the body to make less. When the astronauts come back to Earth, they do not have enough fluids in their systems. It takes their bodies a few days to make more blood and water. The astronauts have to rest so their bodies have time to make new blood and water. If they don't, they can feel very weak. They might even faint!
Astronauts use toothpaste and toothbrushes just like yours. There is no sink like yours on the Space Shuttle, though. Astronauts have to spit into a washcloth.
People take baths a different way in space, too. Astronauts use special kinds of soap and shampoo. These soaps do not need water to rinse. Astronauts must use them carefully. They do not let the soap bubbles go all over the place. After washing, they use a towel to dry off. They do not rinse. These special soaps and shampoos were made for hospitals. Patients who cannot get in the water use these soaps.
Doing chores is not always a fun thing. But we have to keep our rooms and houses clean and neat. In space, astronauts live in a very small space. They have to keep their area clean in space just like we do on Earth.
In space, the astronauts wipe the walls, floors, and windows to keep them clean. They use a soap that kills germs. The astronauts also use wet wipes to wash things. They use the same kind of wipes and cleanser on their forks, spoons, and eating trays.
Astronauts have to take out the garbage, too. There are four trash bins on the Space Shuttle. Three are for dry trash and one is for wet trash. Wet trash is anything that could smell bad. Each trash container has a trash liner placed inside. It is like a plastic garbage bag. If the liner becomes full, it is closed. Then it is moved far away from the astronauts. The wet trash is closed up tight. It is then connected to a hose. The hose helps move bad smells away from the astronauts.
Astronauts must use a vacuum cleaner in space. The vacuum has a normal hose. It also has extra parts. These parts can clean areas that may be hard to reach. They also use it to keep dust out of the air filters. And sometimes things get loose. When things get loose, they float. Astronauts use the vacuum to "catch" floating objects that are out of their reach.
Excerpted from NASA Life Sciences Data Archive
› Back To Top