Everybody has a query or two about living in space. How do astronauts go about their daily lives in space? Space travel is no doubt the most amazing feat in science and technology. Space travel officially began in 1957 by sending a dog named laika to the orbit in the first artificial satellite Sputnik 2. We have definitely come a long way since then. 63 years later, and we have astronauts living on board the ISS(International Space Station), more than 2000 artificial satellites in orbit, multiple exploration missions of Moon and Mars and other ongoing deep space exploration missions of our galaxy. The most recent human space travel was on 30th May 2020, when a commercially built spacecraft Crew Dragon(a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket) launched NASA astronauts to the ISS. And subsequently on June 13th, SpaceX successfully launched a batch of 58 Starlink Internet Satellites along with 3 Planet Skysats.
Living in space is however as challenging if not more than traveling in space. Astronauts have to train for at least 2 years to qualify for any space missions. They need to prepare and train for any emergencies that could occur in outer space. Our bodies change a lot and are not the same as in Earth in space. Thus, there are lots of daily activities that they do a bit differently in space.
Food in Space
Between the lack of gravity and shifting of bodily fluids, things can taste different in space. There is no way to actually cook food in space shuttles or on the ISS. Space food is already cooked and then either freeze-dried or vacuum packed. Astronauts then add water and warm it up in the oven. Fresh foods like fruits have to be eaten early in the mission as there is no way to store such foods without refrigerators.
Nutritionists ensure the space food are well packed with nutrients and vitamins. The food packaging are designed to be flexible and disposable. They require less space and also prevent food from leaking out.
Keeping fit in zero gravity
Keeping fit in space is very essential. Exercise is an important daily routine for the astronauts to prevent bone and muscle loss. In Earth, our lower body and legs carry our weight. But in space, due to lack of gravity astronauts float. The blood flow, bones and muscles all change in space making astronauts weak. So it’s essential for astronauts to work out an average of 2 hours per day.
Without much movement in space, the lower back loses strength. The leg muscles also weaken. The bones also start to get weak and thin so exercising regularly to keep them strong is a must.
Sleeping in space
It definitely takes a while to adapt to zero-g. Sleeping in space is not the same as on Earth. Astronauts have to be strapped in their sleeping bags so they don’t float and bump around stuff in their sleep. Space only has microgravity so astronauts are weightless. This makes it possible for the astronauts to be able to sleep in any position and orientation.
Space station crew sleep in small crew cabins. Each crew cabin is has the capacity to fit one person. The sleeping bag in which astronauts sleep have holes for arms to stick out of. They can thus reach out and zip the bag and tighten the velcro straps around them to keep themselves strapped in.
Working in space
Working in space has to be the most exciting and the dangerous part of the whole journey. Even a small miscalculation or mistake could lead to disastrous ramifications. The space station is designed to be a research facility. Research and experiments that can only be conducted at microgravity is done on the space station.
Astronauts are constantly working on science experiments and monitoring those controlled on Earth requiring their input. They also take part in medical experiments which determine how their bodies are adjusting to microgravity for long periods of time.
Cleanliness in space
Staying neat is as essential in space as it is in Earth. Keeping yourself and your environment clean actually requires more effort in space. Space toilets have leg restraints on the toilet seat and the commode acts as a vacuum cleaner sucking air and waste. Astronauts also use special rinseless soaps and shampoos that don’t need water but can be dried by towels.
Astronauts also have to keep the station clean. They wipe the floors, ceilings and walls with wet wipes. They also need to take out the trash. There are 3 dry trash and 1 wet trash bins on the station. The container is closed with the trash liner when it becomes full. It is then moved far from the astronauts and connected to a hose to move bad smells away.
Living in space is no easy feat. Since the physical exploration of space less than a century ago, we have made tremendous progress. We continue to learn new things about space and how we could more easily adapt in microgravity. It is only natural that we will advance more in coming years. Humans are steadily progressing more and there are many more scientific breakthroughs yet to come. Human participation on deep space exploration missions is not possible as of yet. But in coming decades, this could very well be reality. Even concepts like hyperspace travel may not be limited to science fiction.
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