Life on the International Space Station: from dry showers to turning urine into drinking water

The International Space Station
ISS active since 2000
International cooperation
Some information about the station
Samantha Cristoforetti on board the ISS
Military pilot
Selected by the European Space Agency
How do you wash in space?
Personal hygiene in space
All products must last for about 6 months
Envelopes and Velcro to fix products
What about showers?
A special soap
Two towels
No running water!
How to brush your teeth
Manicure on board!
Washing their hair
What about the toilet?!
And
How do you get drinking water on board?
The International Space Station

While most of us are busy with our daily chores here on Earth, out of the atmosphere, in orbit around our planet for more than twenty years, is the International Space Station. On board is a group of astronauts who carry out important scientific research work while floating in space.

Photo: Instagram@iss

ISS active since 2000

The International Space Station, also known as ISS, is a huge laboratory that began operations on November 2, 2000, the day the first crew arrived on board.

Photo: NASA

International cooperation

More than twenty years have passed since that day, and many astronauts have been part of the project, born of collaboration between Europe, Japan, Russia, the United States and Canada.

Photo: NASA

Some information about the station

The ISS moves around the earth at a speed of 28,000 kilometers or 17,398 miles per hour at an altitude of 400 kilometers. Just 5 minutes after flying over Madrid, it is already racing to Berlin, 2,300 kilometers (1,429 miles) away!

Photo: NASA

Samantha Cristoforetti on board the ISS

Among all the astronauts taking turns aboard the ISS is Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian to crew the International Space Station.

Photo: NASA

Military pilot

Samantha Cristoforetti was born in Milan on April 26, 1977 and at the age of 24 decided to start her career as a military pilot. She studied at the Air Force Academy in Naples.

Photo: NASA

Selected by the European Space Agency

Between 2005 and 2006 she specialized in the United States under the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program and became a combat pilot. In 2009 she was selected as an astronaut by the European Space Agency (ESA) - the first Italian and third European.

Photo: NASA

How do you wash in space?

Samantha Cristoforetti, in a video created directly from the ISS and published by the official channel of ESA (European Space Agency) on Youtube, tells us something that many of us here on Earth have never thought about ... how do you wash in space?

Photo: Instagram @iss

Personal hygiene in space

Directly from the ISS personal hygiene module, the young astronaut shows us how she and her colleagues wash every part of the body after training and how they take care of their daily personal hygiene.

Photo: Instagram @iss

All products must last for about 6 months

Most of the products used are not very different from those we use here on Earth, as Cristoforetti himself says. Each astronaut receives all items in a zip-lock bag, which must last for the next six months.

Photo: Instagram @nasaastronauts

Envelopes and Velcro to fix products

Since the astronauts live in space in zero gravity, all products must be tightly packed in special bags with Velcro so that they do not fly around the station.

Photo: Youtube ESA

What about showers?

For "showering", the astronauts on board the ISS use camping towels made of very light material, which are initially dry but then, when wet, are used to wash the different parts of the body.

Photo: NASA

A special soap

Of course, there is also soap powder that comes in airtight bags. You just have to put water in the pouch to use it, but unlike the soap we use every day, this product doesn't lather and doesn't need rinsing.

Photo: Youtube ESA

Two towels

To dry off, each astronaut is given a medium-sized towel and another small towel that can be changed once a week.

Image by Alexas_Photos from Pixabay

No running water!

Another thing we take for granted is running water for washing, but there is none on the International Space Station! Therefore, the astronauts on board must fill small bags with spouts from special water dispensers on board.

Image by Martin Slavoljubovski from Pixabay

How to brush your teeth

As for oral hygiene, toothbrush and toothpaste are also used onboard the ISS, just like here on Earth. The only problem on board is the lack of a sink and running water. Instead of spitting out the remains of the toothpaste in their mouths, many astronauts swallow it or spit it into an old towel.

Photo: Youtube ESA

Manicure on board!

Of course, nails also have to be cut. To do this, the astronauts use suction grids so that the small pieces cut off are immediately sucked up by the air flow and stick to the grid. Then remove all residues with the vacuum cleaner.

Photo: Youtube ESA

Washing their hair

Another mundane thing to say goodbye to on board the ISS is relaxing with shampoo in the shower. The only way to keep hair clean on board the space station is to dampen it with a little water, avoiding splashes, and add a special shampoo that doesn't need to be rinsed out.

Photo: Youtube ESA

What about the toilet?!

Even going to the toilet is not that easy on board the ISS. In fact, as soon as you enter the small toilet, you have to switch on a suction hose with a small funnel at the end, used to suck up liquid waste.

Photo: NASA

And "number 2"?

For the solid waste there is a small container in the shape of an ordinary toilet, equipped with bags that, once filled, must be replaced with new ones.

Photo: Instagram @iss

How do you get drinking water on board?

Nothing is thrown away on board the International Space Station, absolutely nothing, not even urine, which is recycled through sophisticated systems with very complex hydraulic elements. At the end of the conversion process, it becomes drinking water for the astronauts on board.

Photo: NASA

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