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Typical Day

Cleaning your room would be a lot easier without any gravity. (Source)

Astrid Roquette's feeling a little constricted, so she pirouettes into two more somersaults that take her from floor to ceiling and back again in the cramped quarters of the International Space Station.

With no need to "get dressed"—she's in the same set of clothes for days on end—she starts her day. Floating around in space at 8:00AM Greenwich Mean/ISS time, Astrid takes her morning inventory of what she loves about her life working for NASA. To begin with, the views of Earth are out of this world—literally. She can see how fall's moving in on the Northern Hemisphere, where vast swatches of bright green are fading into brown and gray.

She also loves tinkering, and the space station's heaven for do-it-yourself addicts (although you won't find most of this stuff on Pinterest). After her freeze-dried and marginally edible space breakfast, Astrid spends the better part of the morning—or what passes for morning in space—fiddling around with the station's toilet.

After all, with no room to stock a six-month's supply of fresh water on board, recycling all the available water becomes part of survival. And they do mean all available water, every single drop of it. Astrid learned a long time ago that it's very important to get the right input-to-chemical mix so the components that transform urine back into drinking water are in proper order. That's something she really doesn't want to screw up.

As she finishes at 11:00AM, her cosmonaut crewmate Yuri floats by. He waves hello to her and says that he needs "to make the number twos." In the weeks with her international crewmates, Astrid has become a lot closer to them, even if some of their English makes her laugh inappropriately. 

It's okay; when she described what Twinkies are and how much she loves them, everyone laughed at her as if she were a crazy person.

It's cool though—all of the rigorous tests NASA put her through proved that she's totally sane. Let's see where I'm at after six-months without a Twinkie, she thinks to herself.

After taking some time to herself, including a delicious lunch of soup from a tube (just like grandma used to make), she decides to exercise around 1:00PM. Astrid does resistance training to keep those bones and muscles toned. This isn't about vanity or beauty either—one of the most important things to do in space is to remain active to counter muscular atrophy.

At 2:00PM, Astrid joins up with most of the rest of the crew for today's main event—extravehicular activity, a.k.a. E.V.A., a.k.a. spacewalking, a.k.a. the best part of the job.

E.V.A.-ing's a long, complex, and important affair. Going outside is the fun and easy part of the deal—the preparation for going out is where most of the effort lies. 

The last few days were the prep days, involving battery charging, suit-sizing, tool gathering, studying new procedures, reviewing tasks involving the robotic arm, practicing how to get in and out of the airlock, planning for emergencies, and so on. Finally, after all that prep, it's time to get out there.

At your job, this is known as Tuesday. (Source)

By 3:00PM, she and Oleg are in their suits, heading out the airlock and into space in all its magnificence. Astrid luxuriates in a void that's busy, active, and potentially treacherous. As she contemplates the next six hours outside of the station's relative security, Astrid snaps to attention as Oleg motions to her to follow him to a section of the space station where something seems to be amiss. It's time to get to work.

At 9:00PM, with the loose bolt secured—yes, one simple bolt can take hours to fix in space—Astrid's back inside the living quarters. She's absolutely exhausted. As she chows down on her dinner of canned meats and freeze-dried ice cream (her favorite), she reflects on how tired one can get just floating out in the abyss.

So tired, in fact, that Astrid's going to skip Oleg's nightly Siberian serenade to hit the sack for an early night. She's heard them all before, anyway. As she straps herself into the pod that serves as her bed, she drifts off just as the first chords of "Kalinka-Malinka" echo through the station's tight, circuit-laden halls.