This is what mealtime for 11 astronauts looks like on the space station

Eleven astronauts from the U.S., Russia, Japan, and France gather for dinner on the International Space Station on Sunday, April 25. NASA

It’s pretty crowded on the International Space Station (ISS) just now, with a total of 11 astronauts currently enjoying the comforts of the orbiting outpost some 250 miles above Earth.

NASA on Sunday posted a group photo (top) of everyone gathered together for dinner. You can various packs of space food secured to the table (as well as several items floating above it!), though recent experiments growing fresh produce in microgravity conditions means the space-based diners may have been able to enjoy some leafy greens, too.

The ISS crew increased to 11 on Saturday, April 24, with the arrival of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, as part of SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission. They joined NASA’s Mark Vande Hei, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy, Pyotr Dubrov, who arrived earlier this month, and also NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi, who have been on board since November 2020 and are returning to Earth this week. Find out how you can watch their journey home live online.

It may look rather cramped in the dining area, but the space station actually has many other sections where the astronauts can go to work, rest, and play. NASA describes the inhabitable satellite as “larger than a six-bedroom house, [with] six sleeping quarters, two bathrooms, a gym, and a 360-degree view bay window.”

While it’s certainly rare for so many people to be on the station at once, it’s not the busiest that it’s been in its 21-year history, with 13 astronauts spending time together on the ISS back in 2009.

If you’re interested in learning more about daily life on the space station, check out these insightful videos posted by visiting astronauts from over the years that explain everything from how to wash your hair in microgravity conditions to how to use a space toilet.

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