Hi, I'm Trish, Programs Coordinator at the Space Centre.

When we chat with kids about what living in space is like for astronauts, we always say it’s a lot like going camping. When camping, the regular activities you do—eating, sleeping, even going to the bathroom—are a little different than you would normally do, and you need to take things with you to live. Living in space is like a type of camping where you travel far from home and must take everything with you when you go...absolutely everything. Living in space requires that you have food, air, and water, and astronauts need to take those supplies with them when they blast off from Earth. 

We are lucky that we don’t need to take air with us when we go camping. Air is important for astronauts because there isn’t any in space! Astronauts need about 2.6 kilograms of air a day while on the International Space Station (ISS), and when they do a spacewalk they must take their air with them. Astronauts don’t bring all the air with them when they leave Earth. Some of the air is recycled on the ISS with special oxygen scrubbers. Water is also recycled on the ISS. Astronaut’s wastewater such as urine, sweat, and even moisture from their breath, is captured, and then impurities and contaminants are filtered out, and the water is used again.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food you take camping is not all that different from food astronauts eat in space. Which foods look familiar in this picture of astronauts making pizza?

Much like planning your menu for a camping trip, astronauts plan their menus for their time on the ISS. Using this NASA webpage plan your three astronaut meals for a day in space.
 
While the food you eat in space isn’t all that different, the way you can eat it is. Imagine eating in a micro gravity environment where everything floats. It looks like a lot of fun. Watch this video of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield preparing food in space. 

Sleeping and going to the bathroom in space is very different from how you would do it camping. On the ISS astronauts sleep in something like a sleeping bag but it is attached to a wall so they don’t float into something. Watch this video of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield shows how astronauts sleep in space.

Going to the bathroom in space is a question we often get, and the uniqueness of microgravity does pose some challenges that we don’t face going to the bathroom here on Earth. In space the toilets are more like a vacuum cleaner and astronauts float into the bathroom and use a seat belt to secure themselves to the toilet seat. The vacuum is turned on and the waste is removed. Watch this short video that answers the question, how do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?

Liquid waste is recycled using the water filtration system we talked about earlier and solid waste is packed with other solid garbage and sent back towards Earth where it burns up in the atmosphere on re-entry.  

If you have a chance to go camping this summer have a look at this website to see if the ISS will be visible from your campsite and think about how much more challenging it would be if you were camping in space on the International Space Station. 

I hope this has inspired you to discover more about living in space. We’ve pulled together a couple of playlists with some of our favourite web resources about the International Space Station and living in space.
 
Go through the playlist at your own pace. Here’s how we suggest you start:

 

Junior Astronomer Playlist (kids 8-12)
TimeActivity
10mins.

Get inspired by watching the Knowledge Network episodes about living on the International Space Station – A Day in the Life and Misadventures in Microgravity.

You have to sign up and log in but it is worth it!

Ask yourself: What do you think would be the most challenging part of living on the International Space Station? What would be the most fun?

20mins.

Play the online game Mission: Astronaut on the Canadian Space Agency’s website.

Ask yourself: Do you have what it takes to be an astronaut?

10mins.

Find out how gravity affects your height by measuring your height first thing in the morning and then at the end of the day.

Ask yourself: How do you think your height will change over a day?

10mins.

Try this experiment to see why astronauts are taller in space.

Ask yourself: What do you think astronauts would need to do to minimize the impact of space on their body?

60mins.

 

Build your own spacesuit. Watch this video about the new spacesuits designed to go to the Moon and Mars and then build your own.  

Ask yourself: What would it be like working in a spacesuit?

Senior Astronomer Playlist (teens 13-15/adults)
TimeActivity
10mins.

Get inspired by watching the Knowledge Network episodes about living on the International Space Station – A Day in the Life and Misadventures in Microgravity.

You have to sign up and log in but it is worth it!

Ask yourself: What do you think would be the most challenging part of living on the International Space Station? What would be the most fun?

20mins.

Dock the SpaceXDragon 2 to the International Space Station with this online simulator which uses the actual interface used by NASA astronauts. Watch the short crew training video before you start.

Ask yourself: How much practice do you think you would need before you could successful dock Dragon 2 to the ISS?

30mins.

Watch SPACE 101: The future of space exploration with Canadian astronaut Jenni Sidey-Gibbons

Ask yourself: What ways could your future career contribute to space exploration?

60mins.

Watch this video about the new spacesuits designed to go to the Moon and Mars and do a little reading on space suite design.  

Ask yourself: If you were asked to design a space suit what features would you include?

60mins.

 

Invent a water recovery system for the Lunar Gateway space station.

Ask yourself: How will you design your water recovery system so that it could be fixed without getting new supplies from Earth? Watch the movie Apollo 13 for a little inspiration.

4hrs.

 

Enter the Canadian Space Agency’s Junior Astronaut contest. Complete at least three activities in each of the three streams.

Ask yourself: Why would you want to be an astronaut?