Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut, and get to travel to places that are literally out of this world? We do! We got to meet a real astronaut recently, and we asked him a bit about what it was like being on the International Space Station. Here is a little about what we were told:
Most astronauts from the U.S. have a military background. They go through extensive training before being selected for the space program, and again after admission. It can be a grueling process because life in space is very different than here on Earth!
For example, a bathroom in space is nothing like the one in your house. Especially the toilet! Astronauts need to use leg restraints to keep themselves on the toilet. The toilet itself has to work like a vacuum cleaner to suck air and waste into special tanks. The process is a lot harder than at home!
Their ‘kitchen’ also looks different. Some food has to be stored and prepared differently. You can bring an apple with you into space, but you can’t have a salt shaker—salt and pepper have to be in liquid form because otherwise, it would just float away when you tried to put it on your food. Some foods are dehydrated to make it easier to store. Some need to be heated, so there is an oven, just like at home. However, there is no refrigerator in space. Astronauts need to be careful about how their food is stored so that it doesn’t go bad. Nutritionists make sure that each astronaut eats the proper diet while they are in space.
One of the things astronauts must do every day is exercise. Without the effects of gravity on their bodies, astronauts are in danger of bone and muscle loss. They use specialized equipment that can provide them with the workout they need to stay fit in space. On a typical day, astronauts spend about two hours exercising.
In addition to exercising, astronauts have work to do aboard the space station. They conduct science or medical experiments and also perform maintenance on the station itself. They do things like make repairs and update computers, cleaning, and other basic tasks.
Of course, they don’t work all day. They get time off for things like holidays and weekends. They can use their free time to read, watch movies, listen to or play music, compete against each other in card games, or other recreational activities. They can even communicate with their families back home! One of their favorite pastimes is looking out the many windows on the space station and checking out that awesome view.
Because there is no day or night in space, they have scheduled hours for sleep. Typically it is for eight hours at the end of each mission day. Because there is no real gravity, astronauts can sleep however they want, even standing up! They have to secure themselves to something so that they don’t literally “drift off” while they are asleep and accidently hurt themselves. They have their own small crew cabins where they can sleep.
We hope this answered some of your questions about what life is like in space, and that you enjoyed reading this as much as we did learning and writing about it!