Astronauts aboard the International Space Station sought a few pointers from domestic diva Martha Stewart Monday on how best to make their orbital laboratory a bit more like home.
“It’s really an honor and a privilege to be up here,” NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, an Expedition 14 flight engineer aboard the ISS, told Stewart during a Monday chat via video link broadcast on NASA TV. “But if you’ve got any tips on how we could fix up the place of make some better meals, we’re welcome to that.”
Williams and Expedition 14 commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, of NASA, spoke with Stewart during a taping of her television show, which will air at a later date, NASA officials said. Also living aboard the ISS with the NASA spaceflyers is Russian cosmonaut and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin.
“I am so happy that all of you are doing so very, very well and that you are helping us learn so much about space travel,” Stewart told the station astronauts. “It is something that I think all of us here in the audience would love to do at some point. Going on a zero gravity flight really is a good way to start.”
Stewart, who experienced a brief taste of weightlessness during a Zero G flight last year, discussed everything from food to science to laundry with Williams and Lopez-Alegria to get a sense of life in Earth orbit.
“Who washes your clothes?” Stewart asked.
Nobody, Lopez-Alegria said, adding that a pair of shorts lasts for about a month, while shirts typically last one week and under clothes for a few days before they’re packed away in the trash. Lopez-Alegria confessed that he’s also lost about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) since he first arrived aboard the space station last September.
“It’s a good place to come if you’re on a diet,” Lopez-Alegria said.
Stewart said she has been helping her friend Charles Simonyi — a U.S. entrepreneur poised to launch alongside the station’s new Expedition 15 crew on April 9 as the fifth tourist to orbital laboratory — pick out Russian meals for his spaceflight. Simonyi — who is paying somewhere betwen $20-to-25 million to visit the space station under a deal brokered by the Virginia-based firm Space Adventures — is also planning to haul up a food banquet for his orbital hosts, Stewart added.
“We very much look forward to visits from other crews because they invariable bring some interesting food,” Lopez-Alegria said.
“That was quite a treat, though it was a little bit difficult to figure out how to eat them,” said Williams, adding that the pickles were immersed in liquid that had to be consumed first to get the snacks out their packet without causing a mess.
The space station astronauts discussed some of their science experiments — including Williams’ work to grow soy beans that Stewart assured were quite nutritious if given enough light — that help researchers prepare astronauts for future missions to the Moon or Mars.
“Fundamentally, our experiments are designed to study human physiology as it reacts to long-duration spaceflight,” Lopez-Alegria explained.
Williams’ sister Dina, who is caring for the astronaut’s Jack Russell terrier Gorby and also participated in the call with Stewart, pledged to send a care package to her space-bound sibling during the six-month Expedition 14 mission.
“If she could wrap Gorby up and send him up here, that’s great,” Williams said.