Skip to main content

In space, astronauts perform cleaning chores in style

Life on the International Space Station isn’t all science experiments and Earth photography.

Mundane housework duties also have to be fulfilled in order to keep the orbiting outpost spick and span.

Space vacuuming in 360º | Cosmic Kiss

To make the task as simple and efficient as possible, NASA created a vacuum cleaner that attaches to the back of the person tasked with the job, as demonstrated in this video (above) featuring recent space station arrival Matthias Maurer.

As it’s a 360-degree video, you can drag the picture in all directions to follow Maurer as he floats around the European Columbus and Japanese Kibo modules, with his back-based cleaner sucking up dust as he goes. Vacuuming can be dull at the best of times, but this certainly looks like a fun way to get the job done.

“Even astronauts in orbit cannot escape housework,” The European Space Agency (ESA) says in comments accompanying the video. The agency points out that unlike on Earth, microgravity conditions mean that dust inside the space station doesn’t settle, so astronauts “vacuum regularly to prevent floating dust from getting in their eyes and noses, causing irritation and allergic reactions.” It’s also important to remove dust to prevent it from clogging up vents and machinery inside the station.

The ISS is said to have the volume of a five-bedroom house or two Boeing 747 jetliners, so there’s certainly plenty to keep clean as the facility orbits 250 miles above Earth.

Maurer arrived at the ISS in November in what is his first time in space. His mission, called “Cosmic Kiss,” is set to last six months and will include working on a range of science experiments … and, yes, performing regular cleaning duties, too.

Other mundane tasks aboard the space station include washing your hair, emptying the toilet, and dealing with the trash that accumulates.

To find out more about everyday life aboard the International Space Station, check out these insightful videos made by different astronauts who’ve visited the facility over the years.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
How to watch three astronauts launch to the ISS on Friday
This bottom up view shows the Soyuz MS-24 rocket’s first stage boosters as the spacecraft stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

On Friday, September 15, a crew of three astronauts will be launching on a Russian Soyuz rocket headed for the International Space Station (ISS). The trio comprises NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, who will be flying in the Soyuz MS-24 mission and will spend approximately six months aboard the orbiting space station before returning to Earth.

NASA Live: Official Stream of NASA TV

Read more
SpaceX gets big hint from FAA on next Starship launch opportunity
SpaceX testing an engine on its Starship spacecraft.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk is keen to send its next-generation Starship rocket on what will be its second crewless test mission after the first one ended spectacularly minutes after launch in April.

But first SpaceX has to receive a launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Read more
NASA astronaut describes record-breaking space stay as an ‘incredible challenge’
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio aboard the ISS.

Astronaut Frank Rubio Calls NASA Leadership From Space (Official NASA Broadcast)

With just a couple more weeks of his record-breaking space mission remaining, astronaut Frank Rubio got to chat with NASA chief Bill Nelson and his deputy, Pam Melroy on Wednesday.

Read more