Being in space, away from friends, family, and Earthly activities, must get pretty boring, right? Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are, on average, in space for six months or 182 days. The length of time spent aboard the ISS can vary based on the type of mission the astronaut is on, but generally, they’re in space for half a year before coming back home.
182 days is a long time to be away, let alone off the planet. Astronauts can’t suddenly decide one Friday evening that they are going to go out for the night, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do.
What Does Living Aboard The ISS Look Like?
The ISS is spacious – bigger than a five-bedroom home – and houses a minimum of seven crew members on a regular basis. While that may sound big, only one-third of the station is “livable.” The other two-thirds of the space station is used for storage and machines. This makes living aboard pretty cramped, leaving not a lot of space for crew members to do things.
Studies have shown that personnel in space for long periods of time can experience negative side effects on their health, such as weakened muscles and sickness. To limit the side effects, a minimum of two hours out of the astronaut’s day are spent working out. Six and a half hours are scheduled into their day for work tasks, an hour for lunch, and eight and a half hours for sleep. This only accounts for 16 hours of their day, despite the astronauts not actually experiencing night and day. So, what else do they do with their days?
What Do Astronauts Do For Fun In Space?
With nearly eight hours left to spend, what do astronauts do in their spare time? Unless their workload takes longer to complete, how crew members spend their off time is completely up to them.
Crew members are allowed to bring approved personal affections into space with them to have during the mission. Over the years, several astronauts have taken musical instruments with them into space. NASA’s Carl Walz brought his keyboard in 2001, Thomas Pesquet, an ESA astronaut, brought his saxophone in 2017, and Canadian astronaut Christ Hadfield brought his guitar. Thankfully, being musically inclined isn’t a requirement of the job!
Over crew members have brought books or E-readers, journals, and even a Ham radio! Douglas Wheelock from NASA enjoyed spending his time journaling. It brought him solace when he wrote his thoughts down, and he admits to even having written poetry. Wheelock also enjoyed spending his time using a Ham radio to communicate with people back on Earth. Astronauts can broadcast on an FM radio channel. Astronauts can also call home or email and even use the internet. Most astronauts have active social media accounts including Twitter accounts and tweet from time to time.
The most popular response from crew members, however, is that their favorite pastime is watching sunrises and sunsets. Viewing Earth from an unimaginable point is awing enough to captivate crew members for a few hours out of their day.
With a bit of time and creativity, crew members aboard the ISS can find a way or two to kill some time, even if it’s just reading a book or looking out the window. Despite being cramped inside, crew members have arrived back on Earth happy with their time spent aboard the International Space Station. 182 days may seem like a long time, but for these crew members, it’s just a walk in the park.