Space exploration has not yet become an arena for commerce and advertising. But this does not mean that there is no curiosity and plans to find a way to turn the space into a medium for advertising. The idea of satellite billboards has been around for a few decades, although no one has found a way to actually achieve it yet. In the 1960s, NASA began using commercial brew powder Tang On her missions to hide the unpleasant taste of water on board the ship. Needless to say, the product manufacturer was quick to take advantage of that link to the space program and use it in their advertising for years after that.
And another consumer product may soon become part of the space program. After decades of discarding unclean astronaut uniforms, NASA is now working with detergent maker Tide to come up with a way to clean astronauts’ clothes on spaceships.
If we go back to the early days of the space program, when missions took hours, there was absolutely no reason to worry about the cleanliness of an astronaut’s clothes. However, these days, astronauts are there for months on each mission. Moreover, they are required to do strenuous exercise for two hours daily. Which means astronauts sweat and get dirty.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing NASA can do about it. Space is tight in spaceships. It would also have to provide space to store water for washing clothes in space, as well as machines to do so, which is not possible now. On top of that, every ounce of weight adds immeasurably to the cost of the job, and there’s no room in the budget for weighing machinery and extra water. When astronauts’ clothes become too soiled to be useful, they are simply left in space. There is no reason to bring it home, and shedding extra pounds is always best.
The current method for dealing with soiled astronaut clothes might work for the time being. But her days are numbered. As we look toward Mars, space missions will take years, not months.
You might be thinking of a solution for the astronauts to take enough clothes for themselves, but that won’t work. Storage space and cargo weight are two major factors to consider. And astronauts already bring with them up to 150 pounds of clothing for relatively short missions. They’ll need several times that weight for years-long missions to Mars, and that simply won’t work.
To address the problem, Tide is currently collaborating with NASA to devise a way to make laundry in space possible. The goal of this collaboration is to invent a method that uses little or no water. Well create a machine wash clothes in space. The first tests are taking place on a mission to the International Space Station, where they will study the effects of radiation and microgravity on cleaning powders.
“Proud twitter enthusiast. Introvert. Hardcore alcohol junkie. Lifelong food specialist. Internet guru.”