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NASA Is Airing Its Dirty Laundry

NASA is desperately seeking answers on how to keep astronauts and their clothes clean, because the waste is getting ridiculous — especially with long-term stays on the International Space Station and possible trips to Mars in the not-too-distant future. The space agency says that the average astronaut needs about 150 pounds worth of clothes with them to keep them covered for an entire year away from Earth. And that's with the space explorers wearing clothes for extended periods, even as they get covered in sweat.

Astronauts are asked to wear their clothes for as long as they can, until the smell and the gross feeling of building filth just becomes too much. That can happen quicker than you might imagine, as astronauts typically work out for two hours per day in order to counteract the effects of weightlessness, which can result in significant loss of muscle and bone mass. Clothes usually make it about a week before they get labeled as too toxic to continue, at which point astronauts trash the clothes and put on a new outfit, turning the previous fit into space waste.

They're added to other trash, and then shot out of the space vehicle, on a quick entry trajectory, where they will burn up in the atmosphere.

Might also solve the mystery of why there has not been any rumored/recorded cases of sex in space.
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ArishMell · 61-69, M
That's the glamour of space exploration knocked on the head...

I suspect manned expeditions to Mars will raise considerably more serious problems than just being grubby.
Northwest · M
[@519706,ArishMell] Tide is working with NASA on a solution. It will be tested on missions, starting May of next year. Essentially, it's pretty similar to one of those Tide Pens they sell for general consumption.

While this may solve the laundry problem, you still have the hygiene issue, as in no showers.
ArishMell · 61-69, M
[@9416,Northwest] Well, I hope it works! Personal hygiene though will be a lot harder to solve, I imagine.
Penny · 41-45, F
rayon fibers? bamboo is a rapidly renewal resource and i think it gets the least smelly of all fibers. its also very light but can still be warm
ArishMell · 61-69, M
[@533101,Penny] Interesting! What of other natural fibres, such as cotton and linen? They'd need consider the volume and weight of clothes launched into Space of course; and the volume once out there.

 
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