What You Don't Know About Living in Space

As astronauts begin spacewalks, a few things of note about life in space.

February 10, 2009, 3:43 PM

March 14, 2008 — -- Early this morning astronauts completed the first of five planned spacewalks at the International Space Station.

They began assembling the Canadian-made robot arm and prepared to move the first piece of a Japanese-made space lab.

Ground controllers sent up a software patch for the robot hoping to fix a glitch that is so far preventing power from reaching the robot known as Dextre.

As the mission ended, astronauts were treated to a spectacular view of the Midwestern United States.

"Oh wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. It's a pretty amazing view, " Endeavour astronaut Rick Linnehan said.

It's all part of life in space, full of spectacular moments as well as the mundane.

Over the years, living in space has forced astronauts to make a few concessions to things you would not give a second thought about when staying at a Holiday Inn.

Here are a fews things you may not have known about living in space.

IPods: For the last few years astronauts have been allowed to fly with iPods, a great space saver over CD players. The iPods had to be modified to fly in space; the lithium batteries were taken out and replaced with alkaline double As that are certified to fly on the shuttle.

Though iPods can fly on the space shuttle, when the shuttle docks to the space station, iPods can't cross over the hatch because they haven't been certified to fly on the space station yet.

But now the people who figure out just where to stow everyone on the space shuttle have to find space for spare double-A batteries, because the iPods tend to be battery burners!

Silverware: Each space shuttle crew gets one set of silverware per mission. They can't do dishes in space (or laundry -- but that's another story) so they have to wipe their forks and knives down with disinfectant wipes after every meal.

Pizza: NASA can put a man on the moon but there is no way to get pizza on a space station or space shuttle mission. It just doesn't hold up. You can't freeze-dry pizza or dehydrate it very successfully and regular pizza delivery is probably a few decades off from becoming reality.

Astronaut Mike Massimino, a native New Yorker, misses good pizza. "It is hard to get good pizza in Texas. It is impossible in space we don't have it. Someone would get a Nobel Prize if they can figure out how to get pizza in space." There is also no ice cream in space. No freezer.

Padlocks: On a previous mission many years ago a space shuttle commander was concerned about a crew member he considered potentially volatile. He requested a padlock to lock the hatch to keep someone from opening it unexpectedly during a mission. One shuttle commander, when offered the padlock option, declined, joking "My going-in assumption is that we can fly without padlocks, I will ask everyone how you feel prior to launch --? any suicidal tendencies or thoughts?"

Laundry: Astronauts never worry about doing laundry -- there is simply no way to wash clothes in space; water and resources are too scarce. So for 12 days, or however long the mission runs, they wear the same clothes over and over. Their T-shirts, socks and underwear have a special silver thread lining that absorbs odor and keeps items wearable longer. NASA recycles the astronauts' clothes for other missions, including the underwear.

Garbage: The astronauts don't just toss the garbage overboard. The mandate is clean your plate and drink all the coffee in your drink bag because all the trash created on orbit has to fit in a container the size of a large kitchen garbage can. That is seven astronauts' times three meals times 12 or so days. The trick is to wrap it up as small as you can when you are done eating and then compress it even more and tape it shut.

Money: Money has no value in space. When seven astronauts are living together in a cramped atmosphere the psychology of small isolated groups kicks in. Whoever has squirreled away the most M&Ms, tortillas or coffee has the most bargaining power. Those are items that are most prized at the end of a mission if someone runs short in their own stash. Astronauts' meals are color coded on shuttle missions -- and reliable sources tell ABC News some astronauts aren't above switching the colored dots on their dehydrated meals if they have run out of say, lasagna, on day six and have way too much creamed spinach left.

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