Even though I feel at home now up here it still feels like camping. Imagine staying on the same camping ground for months on end. Your tent is a mess and you clean up every now and again. That is similar to life up here. My sleeping cabin is full of paper and things I used recently. I put them aside so that the free-floating paper and pens do not wake me up at night. Once a week I clean up my sleeping cabin. The toilet is the thing that reminds me of camping the most. A small pot is all we have. But we get used to it. Recently the toilet was broken. We had to remove the full urine tanks by hand. Normally drinking water is automatically filled from recycled urine (but also from sweat and condensation from breathing). We had to fill the recycling system by hand as well. Fortunately we are real plumbers now. The toilet has been repaired…
Every week I make video contact with my family in the Netherlands. Sometimes Helen invites friends or family. Recently a large group of space friends were visiting my house. These people had also been to the launch in Kazachstan. We talked for over an hour and it was great to see everyone and to show them what it is like to live in microgravity. I took my laptop and camera and gave them a tour of the ISS. I heard a lot of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’. On ground people can hardly imagine how we live up here until they see it with their own eyes. The day I arrived on the ISS I made a similar journey. Like a puppy I floated around all corners of the Station. In particular the JLP section that links the Japanese Kibo module’s “loft” and ESA’s space laboratory is very beautiful. You turn the corner and look into a long tunnel. It is a weird sensation.
I still receive many questions via my blog and on Twitter. I enjoy this very much. Please keep sending them! People ask how we eat up here. It depends. Usually we are very busy and everyone eats on their own. I eat cornflakes or oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast. Sometimes I have scrambled eggs or dried fruit. I prefer strawberries. Usually we eat dried food and we add water. I sometimes enjoy lunch in Node-3 with Dan and Don, if we have time. We have a table
and a suitcase where we can warm up many different tins of meals. The American food does not include bread but does come with tortillas. I add apple syrup from my bonus container. We often eat altogether in the evening. Especially on Friday when we watch a film. The meals are very diverse and if I want to try something different I help myself to a Russian tin. On Earth at NASA’s Space Foods Systems Laboratory we held tasting sessions where we told researchers what our favourite food was. My favourite? The Russians supply the best cheesecake with nuts. The Americans have the best swordfish.
Talking of fish, I received a large supply of MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified fish in my bonus container. Even in space it is possible to eat sustainable fish. The oceans are large, even when seen from space, but many species of fish are still overfished. We must be careful with our planet and its limited resources.