How Astronauts Really Look

What’s it like to be an astronaut? Do you ever get used to the view? How many hours do you actually spend floating in space doing experiments? How much sleep do you need? Do you get sick if you don’t float right? What do you eat and how do you go to the bathroom? Is it true that your eyes change shape in space? I post a “real life of an astronaut” blog entry every Monday on my blog at, but I’m also hosting a Google+ Hangout on Friday, February 13th at 10:30 am CST and will be answering your questions live!

Go ahead and post some questions here or add me to one of your circles and ask there. If you want to watch the hangout, just follow my YouTube channel and once I start broadcasting the hangout, you’ll receive a notification.

I’m looking forward to answering your questions!

From the blog “How Astronauts Really Look”

“On the day of launch, I’ll wear a diaper under my flight suit. And I’m not alone with the diapers. All of us will be wearing them.” -Don Pettit, an astronaut who lived on the International Space Station for six months in 2012 and conducted science experiments on a total of three space missions

“Diapers are used during launch and landing, because you could be strapped in your seat for a couple of hours. Also — and this is a common misconception — we don’t actually have a bathroom on board.” -Chris Hadfield, an astronaut who spent five months as commander of the International Space Station in 2013

“You go to the bathroom into what’s called a fecal collection device,” he said. “It’s essentially a plastic bag with a funnel at one end that you put your hiney into. You have to hold onto the sides of it so that you don’t float away.” -Hadfield

“Personal hygiene is important when you’re in such close quarters with other people,” he said. “The way we wash our hands up there is very similar to how we did it as kids: We use wet wipes and then dry our hands off with air from a hose

I am an astronaut.

I’m also a blogger.

But it’s not the blogging that makes me an astronaut; it’s the other way around. It wasn’t until after I became an astronaut that I became a blogger.

I started this blog to let people know what it’s really like to be an astronaut. You see, when we are on the International Space Station, we are pretty busy doing things that are important for our mission and for science, but we also want to share our experience with our friends and families back home and with you, the public. What better way to do it than over the Internet?

We astronauts love to talk about our work, but sometimes you have to catch us in rare unguarded moments – like at a cocktail party or a family reunion – before we’ll start telling some of the best stories. I think you might even call those “sea stories” because they’re the kind of stories that sailors tell – tales of extraordinary adventures in exotic locations and strange cultures. So consider this blog my online cocktail party where I invite you along with my family and close friends to hear a few of those stories firsthand and maybe even get to ask questions and exchange your own sea stories as well.**

I’m currently training to be an astronaut, and one of the most common questions I get is “Why do astronauts look so goofy in their space suits?”

The simple answer is that we don’t. Real astronauts wear spacesuits that look like the stealth bomber. They look like they belong in a James Bond movie. They are very cool looking. While they are not pressurized, they are designed to keep us safe and comfortable from the elements outside of the spacecraft and inside of our bodies.

But there’s another answer: we don’t look goofy because we only wear them when we’re doing something cool. We don’t lounge around the ISS in our flight suits, and you don’t see us walking around in them on Earth unless we’re about to get into a rocket ship and zoom off into space.

I like wearing my bulky, uncomfortable, heavy suit. It’s not only a symbol of my job but an extension of my body. If I were on a long-term mission to Mars I would be very happy to have a suit with me.

I like the fact that no one cares what you look like when you are in your suit. It is a great equalizer. In fact, it is the same for astronauts as it is for people walking on Earth: You can’t see what we look like under our clothes.

All astronauts have gone to space and all have worn the same suits and helmets. But each of us has our own way of doing things and there are many differences in how we get ready for our flights, how we take care of our suits and how we dress for our spacewalks.

The one thing I would say about all astronauts from all countries is that they are very practical and know that their spacesuits are just tools to help them do their jobs well.

My name is Chris Hadfield. I have been an astronaut for 21 years, and just spent five months living on the International Space Station. In that time I took over 45,000 pictures – which seems like a lot until you consider that my crew mates Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn took another 45,000 between them. Our combined collection of images represents one of the largest data sets ever returned from space, and shows Earth as it has never been seen before.

We were all worried about how we would get along in such close quarters, but the experience was much smoother than I expected. We had no major disagreements, kept each other relatively sane – though we did drive each other nuts with our music tastes at times (I liked listening to ’50s and ’60s rock’n’roll; Tom liked to listen to country-western; and Roman was happy to listen to anything).

I was first exposed to the idea that astronauts were “special” by my kindergarten classmates. At the time, I was confused that they thought I was special because my father was an astronaut. I’m still not sure what they thought I could do that they couldn’t, but I quickly learned that it was better to say “yes,” and not to mention that all of the other dads in my class did equally cool things.

As a little kid, the coolest part about having an astronaut for a dad was when he brought home his space suit after a mission. We would use it as our Halloween costume (I always wore it; no one else could fit in it). Sometimes we got to play in it at school during show and tell. And once I even wore it on the Today Show (on purpose).

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