A self-professed night owl, Samantha Cristoforetti starts her day by groggily reaching for her laptop. Like many of us, she keeps it close at hand–about four inches away from her face, to be exact–and is at work before she even gets out of bed.
Unlike approximately all of us, Cristoforetti’s “bed” is a green sleeping bag on the International Space Station, and that laptop links Cristoforetti to Earth as she orbits 250 miles above the planet’s surface.
In case you didn’t already guess, Cristoforetti is an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency.
After waking up in her phone booth-sized room, checking the day’s schedule on her computer, and floating out of her sleeping bag, Cristoforetti begins her day. For Cristoforetti, this means by hitting up the gym—every day.
In order to prevent bone density and muscle mass loss while in orbit, Cristoforetti and other astronauts spend at least an hour and a half in the gym each day, where they use specialized weightlift simulation equipment such as the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, as lifting regular weights in a weightless environment just isn’t effective. In space, the cheat day simply does not exist.
After a long workout, many of us would head to the bathroom for a cool shower. Cristoforetti does more or less the same, but in her case, instead of running water, she must make do with a small, soapy washcloth and water squirted from a foil packet. Water sticks to her skin and floats through the air in drinkable bubbles due to surface tension–but Cristoforetti rarely has time to dawdle in the shower.
Since its 1998 inception, the International Space Station has cost over one hundred billion dollars, meaning that an astronaut’s productivity is very valuable. The European Space Agency makes Cristoforetti’s schedule and task list from the ground each day, so once she’s suitably clean, it’s time to get to work.