Even astronauts have bedtime routines.
In a new video, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer shares what it’s like getting ready for bed while living in space aboard the International Space Station. And, as you can see in the video, without gravity, things get tricky pretty fast.
Even brushing your teeth in space comes with a whole host of strange steps that we wouldn’t need to do here on Earth, where gravity keeps our feet on the ground and our water from floating away.
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As you can watch in the video, which ESA released on YouTube this week, Maurer’s routine begins like many people’s, with brushing his teeth. But, with a lack of gravity, Maurer can’t just run water over a toothbrush with toothpaste on it and spit into a sink; he would have spit and toothpaste and water flying all over the place. To make do, he squirts water directly into his mouth from a small pouch and spits into what looks like a paper towel.
Stowing his jacket and headphones so they won’t float around while he sleeps, Maurer moves on to washing his face — another challenge, as astronauts don’t want globs of water floating all over the station, Maurer again uses a small water pouch. By squirting small bits of water out at a time and using a washcloth, Maurer gets the job done.
Throughout these steps, however, Maurer also has to contend with towels floating off and his own body floating around. So every step is coupled with readjustments to keep himself upright and the items nearby.
Popping his headphones and hoodie back on, Maurer switches off the lights, grabs a “glass” of water (it’s another pouch), and cruises through the orbiting lab, gently pushing himself along.
Inside the dark lab, Maurer closes his laptop, hangs up his headphones and stows his hoodie for the night. He lifts himself into a little nook above his computer, which he covers with a panel, tucked away to sleep.
Maurer is a rookie astronaut on his first space mission, which he dubbed “Cosmic Kiss,” as ESA astronauts choose their own mission names and logos. Maurer launched in November 2021 as part of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the station.
The Crew-3 astronauts are set to come home in just a few days, with an undocking planned for May 4 and a possible splashdown anticipated the next day.