NASA Just Put Laundry On Astronaut To-Do List | Smart News
NASA is teaming up with the company that makes Tide laundry detergent to tackle a mundane problem in an extraordinary place – dirty clothes in space.
What astronauts do when their clothes stink may not be the kind of dilemma that keeps Americans awake at night, but right now these dirty duds are summarily tossed into space like garbage destined to burn. when they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, reports Marcia Dunn Associated Press (AP). Plus, clothes get rough quite quickly in space due to the two-hour daily exercise regimen that humans must follow to avoid bone and muscle loss caused by microgravity.
Leland Melvin, a former NASA astronaut and NFL player, told the AP that this program requires each astronaut to throw away their t-shirt, shorts and socks at the end of each week.
“After that they are deemed toxic,” Melvin told the AP. “They like to have their own life. They are so stiff from all this sweat.
Each crewed space mission is expected to bring about 150 pounds of clothing per person per year, according to the AP. On longer missions, such as a trip to Mars with an expected three-year transit time, those hundreds of pounds of clean clothes come at the expense of scientific equipment or the necessary air and water. to the life.
“When we finally leave for future lunar or Martian missions, or one day we are even further away, we won’t be able to throw anything away. We will have to reuse everything,” Melvin told Neel V. Patel of the MIT Technology Review. “And I think that’s essential for exploration. Washing clothes would seem trivial, but that’s life. It’s a must for the future of exploration. Or we won’t have enough clothes. to exercise and do our job. “
Enter: Tide and its parent company Proctor and Gamble (P&G). The company’s collaboration with NASA will result in experiments testing various types of detergents and stain removers that will need to work with very little or no water, which was previously considered too valuable for use on laundry, Reuters reports.
The first tests will take place on a cargo flight in 2022 to the International Space Station (ISS) and will seek to assess the impacts of microgravity and radiation on the experimental detergent, according to Reuters. The same experiments will be carried out in tandem on Earth to compare the results.
“Humanity has reached a turning point where, on the one hand, we are at the dawn of space colonization, and on the other hand, facing a critical period where measures must be taken now to save the planet that we let’s all call our home, ”Aga said. Orlik, senior vice president of P&G North America Fabric Care, in a declaration. “The collaboration with NASA and the ISS National Lab is particularly exciting as it allows us to push the boundaries of resource efficiency to its absolute limits, uncovering learnings with practical applications for the future of laundry in the world. space and here on Earth. “
In addition to detergents, P&G is also working on a washer-dryer unit designed to run on the moon or Mars that cleans and dries clothes with tiny amounts of water and detergent, according to the AP. Needless to say, all water used by such a system would also have to be re-filtered and reused by the crew for cooking and drinking.
“The best solutions come from the most diverse teams,” Melvin told the AP, “and how more diverse can you be than Tide and NASA?”
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