What's Life Like on the International Space Station?

Visible with the naked eye on clear nights, the International Space Station (ISS) is Earth's biggest and fastest artificial satellite. And it's also the coolest playground for astronauts around the world.

Right now, seven astronauts live and conduct experiments on the International Space Station. Maybe one day you'll be up there yourself. But to become an astronaut, you'll have to study hard and, of course, be prepared for life in space. So, are you curious to know what life is like on the International Space Station? We thought so.

Grab your toothbrush, because we'll start with the morning routine!

Morning routines on the ISS

Well, first of all, mornings are a relative thing in space. Since the International Space Station travels around Earth 16 times a day, it gets a sunrise and a sunset every 90 minutes. That's 16 mornings in a day...yeah. So, to keep an Earth-like schedule, astronauts on ISS run on GMT time.

When they get up, they do what all of us do: brush their teeth. However, there's little water involved in the whole process, as water behaves very differently in space.

In fact, all the washing is done with very little water, and there are no showers on the ISS. But don't worry, astronauts do keep clean. When it comes to washing their hair, astronauts use dry or rinseless shampoo.

Luckily for them, however, they do have hair-cutting machines with a vacuum! The vacuum prevents hair from spreading literally everywhere on the space station.

Work in space

The ISS is a research laboratory, so the work of astronauts living here revolves around doing cool experiments. The microgravity environment helps them perform research they wouldn't be able to conduct here on Earth.

Astronauts on ISS also monitor their bodies to analyse how humans react after long periods in space.

Of course, living on the ISS also means tending to the space station. Every day, astronauts make sure the systems are in check and update the computer equipment.

When they're not busy doing all these, astronauts get to do the coolest work anybody could possibly do: they spacewalk! That means that they exit the ISS and float into space as they take care of business in the vastness of space. Unfortunately, they don't get to do this very often because it's rather dangerous — as you might imagine.

Eating on the ISS

Astronauts on the ISS have a diversified diet of fruits, veggies, macaroni, cheese, and other dehydrated food types. Of course, all meals are prepped in special recipients to avoid any floating around.

Beverage wise, astronauts can enjoy coffee, tea, orange juices, punches or lemonade. However, they can't have bread since the crumbs are likely to float and clog the station's systems. Oh, and — as odd as it might sound — salt and pepper come in liquid form. After all, without gravity, sprinkling spices on your food is pointless.

There are no refrigerators in space, so astronauts need to carefully store their food and prepare it properly. When their supplies are over, a new food shipment from Earth is dispatched. Cool, huh?

Oh, and get this: since they want to discover how plants behave in space, astronauts grow their own lettuce. It's both a neat science experiment and a yummy lunch.

Exercise in space

Zero-gravity has a huge impact on astronauts' bodies, causing muscle and boneless. So, to prevent this from happening, they need to exercise daily, for at least two hours (and a half).

But don't imagine they use the standard gym equipment found on Earth. That would be useless in zero-gravity conditions. Instead, astronauts need machines that are modified to work in space.

Right now, on the ISS, there are three types of equipment: a bicycle, a treadmill, and a weightlifting machine called ARED, each modified for zero-gravity. For example, astronauts have to strap themselves onto the treadmill, and the bicycle has no seat since it would be useless.

Going online in space

Astronauts on the ISS do have WiFi. In fact, since they're so close to other satellites, they have the fastest connection ever. Astronauts can connect with their families every day, and even spend time on social media giving awesome space-updates.

To relax, many astronauts play online games or watch movies. Do you think a lot of them watch Star Wars in space?

Sleeping on the ISS

Sleeping in space is not as relaxing as you'd dream, but hey, it's restful.

Astronauts on the ISS have special personal cubicles where they also keep a sleeping bag. Only that this sleeping bag is standing up because microgravity won't have it any other way. To enjoy their sleep, astronauts need to zip themselves to the sleeping bag to avoid floating around and bumping into stuff.

Would you like to spend a day on the International Space Station?

Did we hear a "yes, of course!"? We thought so.

While you might have to wait a while until you spend a day on the ISS, you can taste a bit of space-life with one of our Junior Astronaut Programmes.

How 'bout you start by sending your own satellite into space? Yes, it's a significant first step. And, who knows, if you study well enough, one day maybe you'll be among the astronauts living on the ISS.