What Astronauts Do When They’re Not in Space

With the end of the shuttle program earlier this year, and a replacement for the Space Shuttle not due for the next few years, it looks like NASA astronauts will have to find other things to occupy their time.

Here’s a series by Howard Freeman courtesy of Ufunk that shows what astronauts do when they’re not in space.

Snack Runs

Astronaut buying snacks

Even astronauts get hungry sometimes, so they have to pop down to the convenience store to pick up a Snickers bar or a Reese’s or if they get thirsty, some Tang. That’s got to beat all the freeze-dried stuff they’ve been eating while in orbit. The only drawback is they have to lift up their helmets when they actually want to eat anything.

Taking Care of Their Cars

Astronaut getting gas

While they’re not taking the Space Shuttle into orbit, Earthbound astronauts have to get around on wheels rather than rockets. And they have to gas up their cars as much as any other person does (and pay for it too since Uncle Sam isn’t picking up the tab).

Astronaut changing a tire

And not only do they have to fill up their own cars, they have to fix flat tires. Fortunately, this is a lot easier on Earth than it is in space.

Going to the Beach

Astronaut at the beach

Even unemployed astronauts like to chill out by visiting the beach, even if the weather in the Northern Hemisphere doesn’t necessarily permit it. If they bring along a metal detector, maybe they can find something valuable enough to allow them to buy a ticket on Virgin Galactic.

Road Trip

Astronaut on a road trip

Astronauts love to go on trips as much as everyone else does. Of course, their trips have always been much more awesome than anything most other people on Earth could even dream of. If they can’t hitch a ride of one of Russia’s Soyuz capsules, they’ll have to hit the road like most other people do. And get lost and have to consult a map. With all of the technology they have access to at NASA, you’d think they’d be able to use a GPS device or a smartphone.

Eat in a Diner

Astronaut in a diner

“Greasy spoon” diners are a guilty pleasure for a lot of people, astronauts included. There’s nothing better than ordering a heaping plate of bacon (the Internet’s favorite food) and eggs, and read the paper like this astronaut is doing and probably scan the job ads, looking for employers willing to hire someone who wears space suits. One word: Craigslist, my friend!

Tidy Up

Astronaut sweeping a hangar

Of course, when an astronaut does get a job, it’s not likely to involve space flight for a while. Still, NASA needs to keep their hangars clean. So they shouldn’t be afraid to get out the pushbroom and sweep up the place. A little hard work never hurt anyone.

Do Laundry

Astronaut in a laundromat

Even astronauts have to wash their suits sometimes. And you might see them down at your local laundromat. I wonder what the tags say you have to do to get those suits clean. I hope you don’t have to dry-clean them.

Go to the Bar

Astronaut in a bar

After getting their errands done, astronauts also like to hang out in bars at the end of a long day as much as anyone else does and knock back a few drinks and maybe even shoot some pool.

Watching TV
Astronaut watching TV

If you’re stuck on the Earth, it’s easy to get depressed. But if you don’t have a job, there’s always TV and popcorn to keep you company while you wait for NASA to replace the Space Shuttle and get you back into space.

Go to the Park

Astronaut feeding pigeons on a park bench

Sometimes, it’s good to get out of the rat race and just relax, astronauts included. They love to sit on park benches and feed pigeons and gaze into their navels, probably remembering all of the great missions they’ve been on.

If you like space, don’t forget to check out our posts on the Nexus S becoming NASA’s first certified smartphone and the Hasselblad Camera, which the Apollo 11 astronauts took to the Moon.