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11 Things you never knew Astronauts do in space

by Coffee Table Science
astronaut in space
Image credit: www.airandspace.si.edu

Gennady Padalka, the Russian astronaut, recently completed the feat of spending a record 804 days in space, more than any other human being. Aboard the International Space Station, Astronaut Padalka is the commander of the International Space Station (ISS) that is closest thing to home that astronauts have in space and orbits the Earth fifteen times everyday. Although, movies like Gravity and Interstellar might have created a grim image of how life is in outer space, here is a list of 11 things you did not know that astronauts do in space.

  1. Watch Star Trek 
Latest Star Trek film (2009)
Image credit: www.gstatic.com

For those who are fans of Star Trek movies but locked out in space, you do not have to wait for an entry pass to Earth to catch up on the latest releases. Astronaut Michael Bratt was thankful to Paramount Pictures for letting him watch the latest edition of Star Trek on his laptop that was beamed via Mission Control in Houston. Find it hard to believe, you can even go to NASA website and read it for yourself. 

2.    Follow Guidelines for Fun

While becoming an astronaut requires months and years of hard work and following protocols to the last letter, space agencies such as NASA have also framed some policies for having fun when aboard space shuttles or the International Space Station (ISS). Flight plans for astronauts often include schedules for relaxing, exercising and even spare time. While looking outside the many windows is a popular past time among astronauts, they also get weekends off aboard the ISS and  can choose to play cards or read books or do something of their own liking in their spare time.

3.       Enjoy Zero gravity

The most amazing thing about space is the lack of gravity and astronauts do not let go of any opportunity to make most of it. Lack of gravity lets astronauts do many somersaults,  drink water without spilling them or eat potato chips just like Homer did when he travelled in space. 

Zero gravity fun
Image credit www.yive.co 

4.       Wash your hair 

While it may seem like a casual thing to do, here on Earth, washing your hair in space is something only a handful of people might have done. Why else, would you want to record such a mundane act and broadcast it via NASA’s official channel, if not to make your girl friends jealous.


5.       Cry

While the philosophical question about the tree falling in the deep forest being heard or not is still being answered by the greatest minds of the century, Astronaut Chris Hadfield from the Canadian Space Agency experimented with what it would be like to cry in space.

Well, Chris is a grown up man and does not cry at work, no matter how much homesick he might be feeling, so he tried wetting his eyes with drinking water and waited for simulated tears to roll down his cheek. The lack of gravity meant that this never happened and if you were to bawl in space, you would end up with a blob of tears jiggling like a jelly near your eyes.


6.       Play Football 

The FIFA Football World Cup is a popular event not only among fans on planet Earth but also among astronauts on board the ISS. What’s more, there is an International Football Cup played on the ISS, every now and then, and even if you miss the goals, you simply cannot miss the celebrations that follow. 


7.       Move without any effort

Somersaulting in the zero gravity must be a lot of fun but what is even better is moving without having to put in the slightest of effort.  This is definitely something for lazy bums like us where you can move around the house without having to lift a finger. Only thing is, the house needs to accelerate. Any ideas on how to get this done? 


8.       City watching

Staring at the dark space from the many windows of the ISS or looking at the stars is truly delightful. But what if you are feeling a little homesick and want to see something that is more human. Well, you can spot countries from up above and even cities or volcanoes from the ISS and this kind of Finding Waldo is a lot of fun. Don’t believe me, watch this clip below.



9. Hang Out 

If staying inside the Space Station becomes a bit boring, there is always an option to take a walk out. Its just that people make a big deal about it and call it a Space Walk.

This picture of Bruce McCandless taken in 1984 has become quite synonymous with the words Astronauts in Space. 

Hanging out in space
Bruce McCandles Hanging out in space
Photo credit: Wikipedia

10.   Take snapshots

If you can have a treadmill, an exercise cycle and other things for yourself, then why not a high end digital camera as well on board the ISS.  This is what Chris Hadfield did with his spare time  and you can see some of his pictures here.


11.   Do a trialathon

If you are the kind of exercise buff, you can even complete a Trialathon in Space. Just like Sunita Williams did. While it was not exactly ‘swimming ’ that Williams did during this event but actually working out on specially designed strength training machine, running and biking were actually done by the astronaut on the ISS.

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