Many Earthlings dream of going to the stars, but once they get there, just what do astronauts do in space? We've seen the most glorious historical moments, we've passed around conspiracy theories and stories about the strange things astronauts have seen, but we rarely talk about what happens to people in outer space on just an average day.
From the famous Apollo missions of the 1960s to today's International Space Station residents, astronauts have to deal with mealtimes, bodily functions, and good-old-fashioned workdays in strange and complicated ways. How these brave scientists and military folk deal with the challenges of living in space is as inventive as you might expect, and possibly more ridiculous.
Only Artificial Days Keep Astronauts Safe From Permanent Jet Lag
Every 24 hours, astronauts on the ISS witness 15 dawns, so normal time conventions of the Sun rising and setting are obsolete in space. While it might seem freeing to make a "day" be whatever you want it to, human bodies are accustomed to biological rhythms and the need for a 24-hour day. Without help, astronauts would become permanently sluggish and disoriented.
A careful use of lights and alarms help condition the astronauts to always get up and go to sleep around the same time.
They Watch A Lot Of Space MoviesPhoto: 2001: A Space Odyssey/MGM
Another popular pastime on the ISS is to watch movies. The station has a video collection containing hundreds of titles and covering a wide variety of genres, including fantasies and comedies. Reportedly, though, movies about government lawbreakers - such as Rambo - are conspicuously missing.
Of course, many movies are about space, and astronauts love to debate the best science fiction movies. Scott Kelly and Dr. Kjell Lindgren praised Apollo 13 for its characters and Gravity for the realism of its space station.
Spacewalking Is Exciting, But They Have To Rehearse First
Astronauts often call spacewalks - or EVAs, for Extra-Vehicular Activities - some of the most exciting and memorable parts of their visits to space. These activities are also incredibly dangerous, so before they even arrive on the ISS, space workers have to practice working on a life-size model submerged in a giant tank of water.
Once on board, you can't just throw on your spacesuit and take a quick waltz outside. EVAs are planned with meticulous detail, sometimes months in advance, and just suiting up is a lengthy process requiring a 100-page checklist.
Fresh Fruit Is Sometimes Flown Into The ISS To Help Boost Morale
Living in a small, cramped space day after day can start to drag after a few months, even in space. To keep the mood up, astronauts band together to have as much fun as possible.
Fresh fruit is sent to the ISS with every new arrival for the whole team to unpack and enjoy. Despite the difficulties in gathering the whole crew of astronauts and cosmonauts together, the ISS makes it priority; group meals and movies have proven to help everyone bond and lift their spirits.