Astronaut Don Pettit, playing with his food
“But how does one clean out the whiskers in weightlessness? On Earth, you simply open the head and shake them out. Doing that up here would be a disaster. So once a week, when vacuuming the accumulation of lint, dust, and detritus against the air inlet filters, I vacuum my razor. I hold the vacuum cleaner hose between my legs, and use both hands to carefully open the shaving head in front of the suction. A cloud of whiskers jumps out, appearing like a miniature asteroid field, then quickly disappears into a black hole, with no chance of escape.”
One of my new favourite things is Letters To Earth, the NASA blog of astronaut Don Pettit, who is currently aboard the International Space Station. He writes most days, often about the mundane, day-to-day things of living in zero gravity: where chopsticks go when you lose them (not down), how to clean your electric shaver, toilet facilities on the Soyuz spacecraft, that sort of thing. He is a lovely writer, thoughtful and emotional and funny, philosophical about the little things, awe-struck by the beauty of our planet and everything in the sky around him. His musings on humanity and our perception of ourselves are quite beautiful and he takes some jaw-dropping photos as the ISS orbits (see Grand Canyon and the Eye of Issyk Kul).
Also he invented a zero-g coffee cup. Cool.
I have various astronomy apps on my iPhone that track the ISS and sometimes I look up at the sky and try to imagine that craft so high above me and Don up there, floating around in the capsule eating his space food or doing science or snoozing in his strapped-down sleeping bag or just doing general spaceman stuff and I look forward to hearing about what he’s been up to again.