Even astronauts have bedtime routines.
In a new video, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer shares what it’s like to get ready for bed while living in space aboard the International Space Station. And, as you can see in the video, without gravity, things get complicated pretty quickly.
Even brushing our teeth in space comes with a whole host of weird steps we wouldn’t need to take here on Earth, where gravity keeps our feet from touching the ground and keeps our water from floating.
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As you can see in the video, that ESA streamed on YouTube this week, Maurer’s routine starts like many people, with brushing his teeth. But, with a lack of gravity, Maurer can’t just run water over a toothpaste-covered toothbrush and spit into a sink; he would have spit, toothpaste and water flying everywhere. To get by, he squirts water directly into his mouth from a small pocket and spits into what looks like a paper towel.
Putting away his jacket and headphones so they don’t float around while he sleeps, Maurer moves on to washing his face – another challenge, as astronauts don’t want water globes floating all over the station, Maurer again uses a small water bag. By squirting small bits of water at a time and using a washcloth, Maurer gets the job done.
Throughout these stages, however, Maurer also has to deal with floating towels and his own floating body. Thus each step is doubled by readjustments to maintain standing and nearby objects.
Putting on his headphones and hoodie, Maurer turns off the lights, grabs a “glass” of water (that’s another pocket), and walks through the orbiting lab, gently pushing himself.
Inside the dark lab, Maurer closes his laptop, hangs up his headphones, and puts his hoodie away for the night. He climbs into a small nook above his computer, which he covers with a panel, hidden to sleep.
Maurer is a rookie astronaut on his first space mission, which he dubbed “Cosmic Kiss” because ESA astronauts choose their own mission names and logos. Maurer launched in November 2021 on the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the station.
The Crew-3 astronauts are expected to return home in just a few days, with undocking scheduled for May 4 and a possible splashdown scheduled for the following day.