How Do Astronauts Spend Months in Space Living Minimally? - Leaf'd

How Do Astronauts Spend Months in Space Living Minimally?

by Sofia Russi

SUIT UP (Or Down)

Robert Frost, Instructor and flight controller at NASA, says that an astronaut’s clothing allowance for six months typically includes 2 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of underwear and socks for every 2 days of work, 2 sweaters, and 2 pairs of (optional) Russian overalls. Clothing in space does not get as dirty as it does on Earth, and although astronauts must exercise 2 hours every day, they change one exercise T-shirt every 3 days, and one work shirt every 10 days of work. The same ratio applies to work and exercise pants. While going into the office for ten days in a row wearing the same shirt might not suit most workplaces, there are many ways in which we can learn from our space peers and make the best out of less. Investing in less pieces of clothing made of higher quality materials is a great start. Garments made of natural fibers (such as cotton, wool, hemp, to name a few) are known to remain fresh for longer compared to synthetic ones. Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium found that bacteria responsible for bad odors proliferate in synthetics, and particularly in polyester fibers. This explains why you might be struggling to make your gym clothes fresh after an intense session. Although garments made of 100% natural fibers might be more pricey, it’s worth investing in something that you don’t have to change as often and which will last longer. Like astronauts do.


Other than their clothes, astronauts are allowed to take into space only about 3 lbs worth of personal items. It’s something to keep in mind next time you’re packing for a trip. Popular items on the International Space Station include books, photographs or other small items, often donated by family and friends. The limited baggage allowance is due to the cost and logistics of sending things in space, so astronauts must select small items with big meanings: the most bizarre ones include lego bricks, a Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber and a poster of marine mammals. As Chris Cassidy, a US space engineer who completed 3 missions in space, puts it: “As with most things in life, what makes them special is the people you share them with.”
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