Sunday, May 10, 2009

Orbital Hygiene

Last week, featured an interesting post by astronaut/blogger Leroy Chiao on the challenges of brushing your teeth in space. He pointed out that some normally difficult tasks are actually much easier in zero gravity - i.e. moving a large appliance like a refrigerator. On the flip side, some simple tasks (like oral hygiene) can be much more challenging. After all, when was the last time you lost the cap to the toothpaste and had to look for it on the ceiling? NASA learned long ago that it's a good idea to only send toothpaste tubes with non-detachable lids into orbit.

The major difference is that all the little articles must be meticulously velcroed, bungeed, or held in your hand so as not to misplace anything. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the water must be carefully dispensed from a little pouch in order to prevent what I picture to be a "crazy space spill". And then there's the question of what to do with your mouthful of water and toothpaste. NASA's solution? Swallow it. Makes sense. If you're only in space for a week at a time it's probably no big deal, even if it's a little gross. I'd be interested to know what the astronauts who live in the international space station do. If any astronauts happen to read this, please, let me know.

See the full article at for more.