1. What is life like aboard the ISS? Well, it’s pretty difficult, as you can imagine.
In such close quarters personal hygiene is a must, but the weightless conditions make washing a delicate chore. Water droplets can cause choking if inhaled and can short-circuit equipment, so many astronauts use the music-festival favourite: moist wipes. All-male crews have been known to strip off and get wiping en masse, but mixed crews tend to take turns in a dedicated hygiene station. Hair-washing is trickier. Men tend to get military buzz cuts before a mission. Even Sunita Williams, who spent 195 consecutive days on the space station – a female record – had her long dark hair chopped to shoulder length but still had problems. “Washing took time. I’d squirt a little water under my hair, pat it down with my hand so it wasn’t splashing everywhere, then put some shampoo in my hand and moosh it around. Then I’d wet a towel and try and soak it up. I usually did it on a weekend when we didn’t have a whole lot of other things to do,” she says. Going to the toilet takes a little practice too, but is less traumatic following a redesign that saw plastic bags replaced with a suction-system toilet, like the ones used on planes. The astronauts’ urine, incidentally, is recycled into clean water.
2. Have you seen the new images of Earth at night from the ISS? Yowzas they are absolutely incredible. The one below is of Italy. I love looking at the Earth, aglow from the hustle and bustle of cities, at night.