Categories: Science

NASA And Tide Get Down And Dirty About Doing Laundry In Space



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — How do astronauts do laundry in house? They don’t.

They put on their underwear, gymnasium garments and all the pieces else till they’ll’t take the filth and stink anymore, then junk them.

NASA desires to alter that — if not on the Worldwide Area Station, then the moon and Mars — and cease throwing away tons of soiled garments yearly, stuffing them within the trash to fritter away within the ambiance aboard discarded cargo ships. So it’s teamed up with Procter & Gamble Co. to determine how finest to wash astronauts’ garments in house to allow them to be reused for months and even years, similar to on Earth.

The Cincinnati firm introduced Tuesday that it’ll ship a pair of Tide detergent and stain removing experiments to the house station later this 12 months and subsequent, all a part of the galactic battle in opposition to dirty and sweaty garments.

It’s no small downside, particularly because the U.S. and different nations look to determine bases on the moon and Mars.

Rocket cargo house is tight and costly, in keeping with NASA, so why waste it on new outfits if their garments may very well be saved trying and smelling contemporary? Whenever you determine an astronaut wants 150 kilos (68 kilograms) of garments in house per 12 months, that shortly provides up, particularly on a three-year Mars mission, mentioned Mark Sivik, a chemist specializing in cloth and residential care expertise for P&G.

There’s additionally the well being — and ick — components.

Area station astronauts train two hours on daily basis to counter the muscle- and bone-withering results of weightlessness, shortly leaving their exercise garments sweaty, smelly and stiff. Their T-shirts, shorts and socks find yourself so foul that they run by way of a pair each week, in keeping with Leland Melvin, a former NASA astronaut and NFL participant.

“After that, they’re deemed poisonous,” mentioned Melvin, who’s serving as a spokesman for the challenge. “They like have a lifetime of their very own. They’re so stiff from all that sweat.”


Whereas NASA and the opposite house station companions have appeared into particular antimicrobial garments to extend put on, it’s not a long-term answer.

In its preliminary experiment, P&G will ship up detergent custom-made for house in December so scientists can see how the enzymes and different elements react to 6 months of weightlessness. Then subsequent Might, stain-removal pens and wipes might be delivered for testing by astronauts.

On the similar time, P&G is growing a washer-dryer combo that would function on the moon and even Mars, utilizing minimal quantities of water and detergent. Such a machine might additionally show helpful in arid areas right here on Earth.

One of many many design challenges: The laundry water would have to be reclaimed for consuming and cooking, similar to urine and sweat are at present recycled aboard the house station.

“One of the best options come from essentially the most numerous groups,” Melvin mentioned, “and the way extra numerous are you able to be than Tide and NASA?”

The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

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