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Far-out Housekeeping on the ISS

Life in space is a daring adventure, but somebody still has to cook dinner and take out the trash. Science@NASA interviews two astronauts about the thrill and routine of daily life in orbit.

A Science@NASA story by Ron Koczor

EVANovember 29, 2000 -- It's open for business! And even though the construction crews aren't done yet, the International Space Station's first occupants have moved in and set up housekeeping. If all goes as planned, the arrival of Expedition 1 in orbit earlier this month signaled the beginning of a new era. From now on, there will always be humans in space./P>

Living in space is a daunting adventure with plenty of derring-do and glamour. Hollywood spacefarers rarely have to take out the trash or clean the kitchen (when was the last time you saw Captain Jean-Luc Picard struggling with the twisty-tie on a garbage bag?). But, what about real-life astronauts? Are there chores to do on the ISS? In a recent interview with Science@NASA, Dr. Edward Lu and Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Burbank -- two astronauts who helped build the space station -- discussed the excitement and the day-to-day routine of life in orbit.

"We were a construction team to help assemble the space station and deliver supplies," explained Lu about their mission on STS-106 last September. "We delivered hardware, water, and other consumables for the occupants to use. We also made the electrical connections between two of the station modules previously assembled in orbit. And, we also delivered the first scientific hardware to Station, a protein crystal growth experiment."

STS-106 was Lu's second time in space, but only the first for Burbank.

"Space really is the most hostile environment humans have ever tried to live in," said Burbank. "You depend on the Station and the people on the ground for everything you need to survive. It is complicated and everything has to work!" It's a risky adventure with very little margin for error, but, said the astronauts, the thrill of being there is something that neither would give up.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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