Skip to content
search
Arts Culture 9 Shocking Facts About Living In Space

9 Shocking Facts About Living In Space

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36 flight engineer, plays a guitar in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, flight engineer, is at left. | Photo: NASA
European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36 flight engineer, plays a guitar in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, flight engineer, is at left. | Photo: NASA
By Christine Andas
By Christine Andas
July 09, 2021
Tatler has the answers to some interesting questions about everyday life in space so you can finally sleep in peace tonight

It has been years since the first expedition to space changed the course of humanity. Lately, artists, billionaires and normal people like you and I have been thinking of travelling to space. We might think humans floating in space is already fascinating as it is. But wait 'til you discover nine of these shocking facts about everyday life in space:

1/9 You can't do laundry in space...yet

Tide partners with NASA in a Space Act Agreement.
Tide partners with NASA in a Space Act Agreement.
STS-79 mission pilot Terry Wilcutt is surrounded by water transfer bags in the Atlantis's middeck. These bags will eventually be used to transfer water to the Mir Space Station. | Photo: NASA
STS-79 mission pilot Terry Wilcutt is surrounded by water transfer bags in the Atlantis's middeck. These bags will eventually be used to transfer water to the Mir Space Station. | Photo: NASA

Water in space is very minimal, which makes it impossible to wash clothes. However, that just might change in 2022 as Tide recently partnered with NASA in a Space Act Agreement to explore the possibilities of efficiently cleaning astronauts' clothing in space. Soon, astronauts will be able to do laundry using a fully degradable detergent even in environments with limited resources. Finally, 160 pounds of clothing won't have to be sent to the ISS all the time. This is also exciting news for us non-astronauts as this innovation might also unlock sustainable solutions for people on earth.

2/9 You'll shower using water that sticks like Jell-o

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Expedition 36 flight engineer, watches a water bubble float freely between him and the camera, showing his image refracted, in the Unity node of the International Space Station. | Photo: NASA
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Expedition 36 flight engineer, watches a water bubble float freely between him and the camera, showing his image refracted, in the Unity node of the International Space Station. | Photo: NASA

Astronauts use the same things when showering: water and cleaning products. However, it gets a bit challenging when your hair's floating around and the water behaves like Jell-O. Astronauts will have to rub the water on their skin or hair to get it wet. Otherwise, the water would be floating around, mostly in the shape of a sphere, as there's no gravity to force it down nor change its shape.

See also: Space Travel: Looking For A Unique Destination? How About Touring Off-Earth?

3/9 You'll grow to love spicy food

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

Apparently, hot sauce is a favourite among astronauts who have been in space. The reason being space makes them lose their sense of smell and affects their taste buds. When astronauts arrive in space the first time, the fluid in their body—which was once pulled to the legs on earth–is distributed equally in the body which makes their faces appear puffy. It almost feels like a "heavy cold" which then reduces their sense of smell and affects their taste buds. Fortunately, this only happens for a short period of time. Moreover, living in such a confined space like the ISS can also affect the sense of smell as different kinds of odour competes with the smell of food. This is why astronauts prefer food with a stronger kick. They'll eat anything spicy, from hot red peppers to spicy brown mustard.

4/9 You'll smell burnt steak, but that's just the scent of space

NASA astronaut Christina Koch closes the hatch in the vestibule between the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and the Harmony module the day before the commercial space freighter departed the International Space Station. | Photo: NASA
NASA astronaut Christina Koch closes the hatch in the vestibule between the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and the Harmony module the day before the commercial space freighter departed the International Space Station. | Photo: NASA

Whenever astronauts open up the hatch, they smell a lingering trace of odour. It seems space has a certain smell. Former CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield agrees that it does smell like gunpowder or burnt steak. But he also likens the smell to brimstone. Some also describe it as "...a rather pleasant metallic sensation". Scott Kelly, a NASA astronaut, however, distinctly describes it as a mix of marshmallows, apples and cat food.

See also: 7 Photos From Space That Look Like Art

5/9 Living in space will make you taller

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's trip to space made him 2 inches taller. | Photo: NASA
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's trip to space made him 2 inches taller. | Photo: NASA
NASA astronaut and Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough rests inside the vestibule in between the Unity module and the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. | Photo: NASA
NASA astronaut and Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough rests inside the vestibule in between the Unity module and the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. | Photo: NASA

Astronauts are 2 inches taller while they're floating around in space without gravity pushing down on their vertebrae. So in microgravity, their spine elongates and the vertebrae stretch out. Unfortunately, the human body changes when they return back home. After a few months, they return to their normal height.

More From Tatler: 6 Science-Backed Habits For Better Holistic Health

6/9 You'll see sunrise every 90 minutes

Sunrise as seen from space. | Photo: NASA
Sunrise as seen from space. | Photo: NASA

Because the ISS orbits our planet every 90 minutes, astronauts get to gaze at the sun rising 16 times a day. Thankfully, astronauts get to sleep in a crew cabin or sleep station—which only fits one person—where they rest in a sleeping bag that's well-attached to keep them from floating around.

7/9 It's extremely quiet in space

Photo by NASA on Unsplash
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The vastness of outer space already tells you it's going to be completely quiet once you're floating around the cosmos. It's amazingly quiet in space that even if you try to scream at the top of your lungs, no one will hear you. This is why NASA prepares their astronauts before they hop on board.

Inside the space station, however, you'll be hearing air circulation fans and fluid coolant pumps in the background. There are times when astronauts have to wear earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to drown out sounds during work day. Thankfully, their sleeping stations are also soundproof.

8/9 If you're bored, just play music

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36 flight engineer, plays a keyboard instrument in the Unity node during some of his off-duty time aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. Parmitano is scheduled to stay aboard the orbital outpost until November. | Photo: NASA
European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36 flight engineer, plays a keyboard instrument in the Unity node during some of his off-duty time aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. Parmitano is scheduled to stay aboard the orbital outpost until November. | Photo: NASA
European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36 flight engineer, plays a guitar in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, flight engineer, is at left. | Photo: NASA
European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36 flight engineer, plays a guitar in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, flight engineer, is at left. | Photo: NASA

Interestingly, you can bring musical instruments like a guitar or even a keyboard to the space station. As long as you play these instruments in the spacecraft where air is present, you can make music with astronauts. In fact, there's a rock band composed of astronauts. 

9/9 You'll have to drink recycled water

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti enjoys her first drink from the new ISSpresso machine. The espresso device allows crews to make tea, coffee, broth, or other hot beverages they might enjoy. | Photo: NASA
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti enjoys her first drink from the new ISSpresso machine. The espresso device allows crews to make tea, coffee, broth, or other hot beverages they might enjoy. | Photo: NASA

As mentioned above, there is limited water in space. But a closed-loop system onboard the ISS allows astronauts to recycle almost all forms of wastewater like urine, sweat or moisture of their breath. But while this sustainable process might sound revolting, this recycled water turns out to be cleaner than the water we drink on earth.

Tags

Arts & Culture space astronauts living in space

clear
keyboard_arrow_up

In order to provide you with the best possible experience, this website uses cookies. For more information, please refer to our Privacy Policy.

close