35 Interesting Facts about Astronauts in Space

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1Space smell

When astronauts are outside the International Space Station, space-borne compounds adhere to their suits causing a distinctive scent when they return to the station. The smell is so unusual that NASA reached out to a top fragrance maker to re-create the odor for its training simulations.


2. Astronaut John Glenn was the first person to eat in space aboard Friendship 7 in 1962. At that time it was unknown if ingestion and absorption of nutrients were possible in zero gravity. Glenn ate applesauce, demonstrating that people could eat, swallow, and digest food in a weightless environment.


3. The first food consumed on the Moon was Christian sacramental bread and wine by Buzz Aldrin. He kept it a secret due to lawsuits filed by American Atheists over the Genesis reading on Christmas 1968.


4. Soviet cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev was in space when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Unable to return, he stayed in space for 10 months. He was supposed to do military service during that time. The army almost issued a desertion warrant until they realized he wasn’t on the planet.


5. Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man on the moon knew that something written on lunar dust will be “undisturbed for more years than anyone could imagine.” He wanted to write something special so he wrote “TDC,” which is his daughter Tracy’s initials.


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6Astronauts

Astronauts have to sleep near a ventilator fan or they risk suffocating in a bubble of their own exhaled carbon dioxide.


7. Astronauts from the Gemini and Apollo missions used a condom-like device to extract urine. The sizes were small, medium, and large. Instead of these terms, Astronauts preferred to use "extra-large, immense, and unbelievable."


8. Astronaut Ed Mitchell said of his experience on the moon in 1971: "From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a b*tch.'"


9. On Space Shuttle Endeavor, astronaut John Grunsfeld called into NPR's Car Talk and asked why his government vehicle was shaking violently for a couple of minutes before the engine died.


10. Astronauts lose on average 1% of their bone mass a month, most of which is excreted in their urine. So yeah, they literally pee their skeleton out.


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11Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

When Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left the lunar lander to step onto the moon, one of them broke off the toggle switch that armed the ascent engines. Aldrin jammed a pen into the resulting hole to arm the engines so that they could get home.


12. Astronauts often see random flashes of light in space, even through their closed eyes. This is caused by cosmic rays passing through their eyes or optical nerves. Scientists think the light is either generated by Cherenkov radiation or by the ray being powerful enough to activate the optical nerve.


13. Apollo 12 astronaut Alan L. Bean accidentally destroyed the mission’s TV camera by pointing it at the sun. He also left several rolls of exposed film on the moon by mistake. The camera though had its revenge when he was hit on the head by it when the crew splashed down on Earth.


14. The astronauts aboard Skylab 4 once went on “strike” for a day because they felt overwhelmed by the demands of Mission Control. They used the time to look out the window and think.


15. When the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon in 1969, they left behind a white pouch containing a silicon disc slightly bigger than a silver dollar. Inscribed in the microscopic font on the disc are 73 messages, each from a different country, expressing wishes of goodwill and peace.


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16Wally Schirra

Astronaut Wally Schirra would take pictures of his frozen pee as it floated through space, glinting with sunlight. The pee-flakes looked like a beautiful starfield, he said. One astronomer saw a photo and asked what constellation it was, and Schirra said "Jocelyn, that's the constellation Urion."


17. During the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission, to help USA/USSR relations, astronauts and cosmonauts played smuggled audio recordings of glasses clinking, laughter, and many female voices. Houston radioed to ask what’s going on. "Oh nothing,” they said. “We finished work, just having a party up here."


18. Astronaut John Young got really bad flatulence from drinking orange juice during the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. Unknowingly, he broadcast this fact to the world. "I have the farts again. I got them again, Charlie."


19. Astronauts lose as much as 22% of their blood while in space, as a reaction to the uniform blood pressure caused by microgravity. Until their body replaces this blood, many returning astronauts can't stand for more than a few minutes without fainting.


20. An astronaut named Takao Doi threw a boomerang while in a space station and it returned to him. As long as there is air to provide the necessary forces, a boomerang will return to its thrower, even in the weightlessness of Earth's orbit.


21Russian Cosmonauts

In 2009, Russian Cosmonauts on the International Space Station were banned by their officials from using the ‘luxurious’ U.S. model Astro-loo toilet and were only allowed to use the Russian-built toilet.


22. According to official guidelines, if an astronaut is dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space, the astronaut’s crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary.


23. An astronaut named John Young smuggled a corned-beef sandwich into space. After taking a bite, crumbs and rye started floating around the cabin. It has been referred to as '$30 million sandwich.' NASA has taken steps to prevent corned-beef sandwiches from being taken on future flights.


24. Astronauts often lose their fingernails after conducting spacewalks. Their nails just fall off in their space suits.


25. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, they honored cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin by leaving behind one of his medals

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