NASA’s International Space Station: Five Fun Things To Do Without Gravity
By Gary Jordan, NASA.gov // October 25, 2015
NASA.gov – Over the course of its near 15 years of continuous habitation, 220 people from 17 different nations have visited the International Space Station.
Astronauts onboard are typically active for at least 9 hours per day doing science, exercising, and maintaining systems.
Excluding scheduled time for sleep and lunch, astronauts have only 4 hours of free time during the work week, and that includes time for meals and general hygiene.
Even with a loaded calendar, the few who have such an opportunity to live in the microgravity environment find ways to make the most of this experience. Here are a just few of their favorite things about living in space:
One of the most self-explanatory (and most fun!) aspects of living in space for the astronauts is “flying.” In space there is no up or down, so there is no floor. Astronauts use rails to push themselves among modules, mostly with their hands.
It takes a bit to get used to, but over the course of their 6-month stay they can become quite the acrobat. Above, astronaut Tom Marshburn flies around Kibo successfully using his hands, feet, and flipping skills to go from one end of the module to the other.
Astronauts actually describe the food aboard the space station as quite tasty! In part, that’s because they have a large role in choosing their own meals. Over time, though, a lot of the astronauts experience desensitized taste buds from the shifting fluid to their head.
Toward the end of their expedition, spicy foods tend to be their favorites because of this phenomenon. Above, astronaut Chris Cassidy dines with his fellow crewmates and enjoys a bite from a floating spoon.
Liquid behaves very differently in space than it does on Earth. Astronauts cannot simply pour a cup of coffee into a mug.
Without gravity, it would stick to the walls of the cup and would be very difficult to sip.
Most of the time, astronauts fill a bag with liquid and use a special straw with a clamp to keep the contents from flying out. Above, astronaut Scott Kelly flings a liquid ball of espresso successfully into his mouth. He also happens to catch a tiny rogue bubble with his swift hands.
The space station crew occasionally gets downtime which they can spend however they please.
Sometimes they watch a movie, read a book, or take photos of the Earth from the Cupola windows.
Other times they invent games to play with each other, and each crew tends to come up with new games.
Sometimes it can be hitting a target, flying from one end of the station to the other fastest, or playing zero-gravity sports. Above, astronaut Alexander Gerst plays soccerwith his fellow crewmates. The lack of gravity makes a successful bicycle kick much easier to accomplish.
GOING FOR A WALK
Preparing and executing a spacewalk can take around 8 to 12 hours, and it can be a jam-packed schedule.
Spacewalkers have to be focused on the task at hand and sticking to the timeline, but every once and a while they can catch a spare moment to glimpse the Earth 250 miles below. Many astronauts describe that view from a spacewalk as one of the most beautiful sights in their lives. Above, astronaut Terry Virts shows moments from his spacewalk with astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore from a GoPro camera.
Watch Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren perform a spacewalk on October 28, 2015 at 7:15 a.m. CT live on NASA TV.