How Do Astronauts Shower In Space?

Think about what makes your hot shower so nice. None other than plenty of hot water and gravity. The gravity on the international space station is about 90% of the gravity on Earth’s surface. This means that the water comes out in tiny particles like bubbles making it very difficult to shower.

When the space station Skylab was in orbit, astronauts stepped inside the shower vicinity and strapped their feet in the ‘bottom’ and clipped the shower tube at the ‘top.’ They would smear liquid soap and then rinse it (they only had 12 cups of pressurized water to use). They then had to dry off with a towel and suction every single droplet of water so it wouldn’t get into the equipment in any form. This process could take as long as 2 hours, many of the astronauts skipped it.

Getty Images/AFP/ JOE KLAMAR

The International Space Station that orbits Earth has improved its shower system since then. Water is supplied to astronauts in little pouches and to clean up rinseless soap is provided. The water just sticks to the skin. Any moisture must be cleaned up with a towel. The air conditioning system collects any water droplets in the air which then condensates into the water processing system which can clean and recycle the water into drinking water.

There are many challenges associated with living on the international space station, showering is one of them but so is preparing food. The International Space Station does not refrigerate food so some space food is mould resistant and has a shelf life of 18 months or more. The Astronauts must ensure that the crumbs don’t float around the station and disrupt the functioning of the equipment. Tortillas are a good choice for astronauts as they don’t produce any crumbs!

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