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A Day in Space

Season 1Aug 30, 2021

Have you ever dreamed of spending a day in space? Join astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, and Thomas Pesquet throughout their day living and working on the International Space Station.

NASA's Curious Universe

NASA’s Curious Universe

Season 3, Episode 8: “A Day in Space”

Introducing NASA’s Curious Universe

Our universe is a wild and wonderful place. Join NASA astronauts, scientists, and engineers on a new adventure each week — all you need is your curiosity. Fly over the Antarctic tundra, explore faraway styrofoam planets, and journey deep into our solar system. First-time space explorers welcome.

About the Episode

Have you ever dreamed of spending a day in space? Join astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, and Thomas Pesquet throughout their day living and working on the International Space Station.


[Song: 11 Alive Underscore by Spoof]

Shane Kimbrough: Hello, everyone, I’m actually in the Dragon spacecraft now called Endeavour. This was the vehicle that we flew up on, and just want to give you some sounds of this vehicle.

NASA's Curious Universe

Thomas Pesquet: Welcome to safety tour of Space Station. I’m your captain today.

Megan McArthur: Right now, I’m in the node one module of the International Space Station, which is where we prepare and eat our meals. And node one is right next to node three, which is where we typically conduct our exercise, we have a treadmill…

HOST PADI BOYD: Hi Curious Universe listeners. We have a very exciting episode for you today to finish out season three of NASA’s Curious Universe.

HOST PADI BOYD: Right now, in August of 2021, there are seven people living and working aboard the International Space Station.

HOST PADI BOYD: A few weeks ago, we asked some of those astronauts, NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, and Megan McArthur, and European Space Agency’s Thomas Pesquet, to take their microphones and walk us, or should I say “float us”, through a day in space.

HOST PADI BOYD: We’re excited to share the audio that they recorded in this episode. So let’s listen in on our explorers on the International Space Station…and find out what a day in space really sounds like!

Ground Control: Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for the event?

Megan McArthur:Houston, we are ready.

[Theme Song: Curiosity by SYSTEM Sounds]

Shane Kimbrough: Hello, I’m in one of the sleep stations on the International Space Station. We call it crew quarters.

HOST PADI BOYD: This is Shane Kimbrough. Shane is a retired US Army officer and three-time space explorer. He served as the commander of the SpaceX Crew-2 flight to the space station in April 2021, and is a flight engineer for the current mission: Expedition 65.

HOST PADI BOYD: The International Space Station is made up of different “nodes” and “modules”, a lot like rooms or hallways in a house. Right now, he’s in one of the crew cabin modules, taking us through the steps and sounds of his morning routine.

Shane Kimbrough: So this is where, it’s kind of our private space, it’s where you get a chance to sleep, of course, but other things as well.

HOST PADI BOYD: The crew quarters on the space station look kind of like a padded pod. On the inside there’s a sleeping bag for each astronaut to zip into and space for personal items like laptops.

Shane Kimbrough: But here’s the sound that this makes.

[sleeping bag zip]

Shane Kimbrough: As I get ready to come out or get in this sleeping bag, it’s mounted to a wall, and it’s connected to the wall so that we don’t just bounce around in here as we’re trying to sleep at night.

Shane Kimbrough: We want to get a good night’s sleep. So that’s why we mount this thing to the wall. And then you just climb in, zip it up.

[sleeping bag zip]

Shane Kimbrough: And then hopefully have a good night’s sleep.

Shane Kimbrough: Also, in here you have some personal items, usually have pictures of your family. I have a computer here that I can do my email on or I can check the schedule out for the day. You can watch movies, you can watch TV shows, those kind of things as well in here, but it’s a nice space.

Shane Kimbrough: So when I close the door, it gets really quiet. It’s a really private space.

[door closing sounds]

Shane Kimbrough: So you can kind of get away from everybody if you need to, which we all need at some point. And then when you open up the doors and you, you get the sounds of the International Space Station, which in general, just some background fans running, it’s not very loud at all, which is really impressive, with all the things that we have going on up here.

HOST PADI BOYD: And there is so much going on up there. The International Space Station has been continuously occupied since November of 2000 by astronauts from 19 different countries.

[Song: Hope and Glory Underscore by Cacace Castellarin]

HOST PADI BOYD: During that time, the station has evolved from an orbital outpost into a full-fledged orbiting laboratory.

HOST PADI BOYD: An acre of solar panels power the orbiting lab, which is larger than a 6 bedroom house, containing around 8 miles of wire weaving throughout the station, keeping all the science running!

Shane Kimbrough: We come out of our crew quarters and float through the lab here. You can hear some fans a little louder here than our sleep stations for sure.

Shane Kimbrough: And then once we get through the US lab, we’ll be heading into node one, which is where I usually get my breakfast ready to go before I go do anything else.

Shane Kimbrough: We’re in the galley now, which is in node one and I’ll give you a few sounds of what it’s like to go get our food out of our pantries.

[clanking container sounds]

Shane Kimbrough: So these are metal containers that we get from the Russians and we just pull out our food.

Shane Kimbrough: I’ll pull out some oatmeal today. And then put that back and do the same thing with the drink. I’m gonna have a hint of orange to drink.

Shane Kimbrough: So then we come over here. We have packaging that we have most of our food in. I’ll open this up.

[packaging opening sounds]

Shane Kimbrough: I’ll hydrate it here with our machine. Put in 75 milliliters, you hear kind of a click when it’s done. And then you know, its safe to, we always put this in the off position so that if water is coming out, it doesn’t spray you. It’s a good safety tip for us.

[water filling sound]

Shane Kimbrough: And this oatmeal takes about five to 10 minutes to kind of to be ready to go.

HOST PADI BOYD: Some food on the International Space Station doesn’t need to be rehydrated because it can be sent it up in the natural form, like fruit and brownies…but most of their food starts out dehydrated.

HOST PADI BOYD: And you can’t just sprinkle on extra seasonings as you want. Shaking salt particles in space could mean trouble for instruments on station. Instead, the seasonings come in liquid form.

Shane Kimbrough: So we’ll head over and I’ll show you what I do in the mornings as well to just get ready for the day, brush my teeth, go to the restroom, that sort of thing.

Shane Kimbrough: Everybody has their own little station where they keep all their items.

[clanking/velcro sounds]

HOST PADI BOYD: The sounds you hear are coming from all the tinkering that has to be done to get Shane’s morning items ready to go. With everything on station experiencing the condition of microgravity, things need to be latched down to keep from floating away and unlatched when you’re ready to use them.

Shane Kimbrough: Now let me just briefly show you over here to the restroom, and won’t really show you a whole lot but I just want to turn it on so you can hear the sound that it makes.

[ISS toilet fan sounds]

Shane Kimbrough: So that’s the fans cranking up, as you go to use the restroom, as the system cranks up, and while you’re using it.

Shane Kimbrough: I just shut it off. Can hear it winding down now.

HOST PADI BOYD: Microgravity can make doing things we normally do here on Earth really complicated in space. The first modules of the orbiting laboratory were sent into space in 1998 and since then, scientists have worked to create and upgrade the different systems humans need to live in space!

[Song: A Warm Embrace 1 Instrumental by Goodman]

HOST PADI BOYD: In upcoming space missions for the Artemis program, NASA plans to build another outpost. This time, it will be orbiting our moon.

HOST PADI BOYD: The research we’re doing in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station continues to provide important new information on what humans need in order to survive…and thrive…in space! The ISS is a critical stepping stone for NASA’s further exploration of deep space.

HOST PADI BOYD: The other NASA astronaut we miked up for this episode was Megan McArthur. Megan is an oceanographer who flew her first mission in 2009 on Space Shuttle Atlantis to service the Hubble Space Telescope. She serves as pilot of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission, and she’s also a flight engineer for Expedition 65.

Megan McArthur: Right now, I’m in the node one module of the International Space Station, which is where we prepare and eat our meals.

Megan McArthur: And node one is right next to node three, which is where we typically conduct our exercise. We have a treadmill and the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device in Node three.

[treadmill sounds]

Megan McArthur:So the sound that you’re hearing is the sound of the treadmill. Let’s listen for a minute.

[treadmill sounds]

HOST PADI BOYD: Exercising in space is important in space because it prevents bone and muscle loss while in microgravity.

Megan McArthur: So one of the things that we have also in node one in the deck is a toolbox that people are getting into all day long to get tools they need to accomplish various tasks. So Aki is about to put away a socket that was used earlier.

[toolbox clank sounds]

HOST PADI BOYD: “Aki” is Aki Hoshide, a Japanese engineer, astronaut, and current commander of the International space station. He works for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency called JAXA.

Megan McArthur: As Thomas begins setting up for his workout, let’s pause and listen to how the device sounds as it’s getting prepared for activity.

[exercise machine repetitive sounds]

HOST PADI BOYD: Thomas works for the European Space Agency, or ESA…and was born in Rouen, France.

[exercise machine repetitive sounds]

Megan McArthur: Ok in between sets, what do you usually like to listen to during your workouts?

Thomas Pesquet: Some really cool music. Cranked up sometimes by Megan, sometimes carefully curated by Mark, sometimes just random music from the internet.

Megan McArthur: All right, well, we’ll let you get to that, enjoy your workout.

HOST PADI BOYD: Even though the names and faces change, people from all around the world have been living and working together continuously while they’re sharing the close quarters of the international space station.

[Song: Innocent Activities Instrumental by Parsons]

HOST PADI BOYD: A day in the life of an astronaut includes many of the normal things we do here on Earth – exercising, eating, chatting with coworkers. But the majority of an astronaut’s day is spent doing important research that can only be done in space.

HOST PADI BOYD: They also participate in video interviews with schools and the media.

HOST PADI BOYD: On this day, the astronauts kicked off an experiment growing peppers for the first time in space, performed combustion research, and even set up a camera that allows middle school students on Earth to take pictures of our home planet from space.

Megan McArthur: I’m in the US lab now, which is a location that we do a lot of experiments, obviously, it’s also a location for some of our exercise.

Megan McArthur: There’s always an ambient sound of fans and pump noise in here. This is probably one of the loudest places on the International Space Station. And like I said, we conduct science in here. We also conduct a lot of our conferences with the ground.

Megan McArthur:We communicate with ground throughout the day for all of the activities that we do. They give us permission to proceed in different places. They answer our questions, they maybe make changes to procedures. So we really need that communication with them throughout the day. And it’s very important that we’re able to hear that.

HOST PADI BOYD: While they work, space station astronauts are talking to mission control centers around the world. Here is Shane checking in on some of the research he’s conducting:

Shane Kimbrough: Houston station on two, for triple A.

Ground Control: Go ahead Shane.

Shane Kimbrough:I’m ready to get going, waiting, just checking with you on step one decimal one.

Ground Control: Everything is place in one dot one, you’re good to go.

Shane Kimbrough: Copy thanks.

HOST PADI BOYD: There are also opportunities for astronauts to connect with people on the ground – to hear from curious space enthusiasts, and talk about their life on station.

Student: Hi, my name is Olivia. And, and I’m from North Carolina. My question is, what does the Earth look like from outer space?

Shane Kimbrough: Thanks for the question. The Earth looks absolutely amazing. It’s really beautiful. The colors are just striking, no matter if you’re looking at the Bahamas, like a beach or the desert, to me that, it’s very striking…

HOST PADI BOYD: Being able to communicate in space is critical, not only with the ground but with each other. And with all the background noise of fans and systems running to keep things operational, it can get pretty noisy on station.

HOST PADI BOYD: Research projects like the ISS Acoustics experiment have been conducted on station to monitor these sounds and make sure things don’t get too loud for the astronauts.

Megan McArthur:One of the things that we talk about before we come into space is what the sounds of the environment are going to be like.

Megan McArthur: We don’t really exactly model on Earth the amount of background noise that we have up here. But we do work in a variety of noisy environments as part of our training.

Megan McArthur: So for example, we fly in T-38 jets, which are quite loud, of course on their own. And so thinking about how to communicate effectively in a loud environment is really important.

Megan McArthur: When I first came to space station, the sound that surprised me was actually here in the lab, and it’s the thermal amine scrubber. And if we’re lucky, we might hear it make this noise but I was floating through the lab directly underneath it and it makes kind of this big, it’s almost like an exhale, it sounded like something very large exhaling right next to me and it really startled me. Fortunately Shannon Walker who had, was outgoing crew, had been up here for six months. She said, Oh, don’t worry about that. It does that all the time.

[Thermal Amine Scrubber ‘exhale’ sound]

HOST PADI BOYD: The unique features of the space station, like microgravity and proximity to extreme temperatures, create a prime opportunity for experimentation in the different labs.

[Song: Jungle Dawn Underscore by Stroud]

HOST PADI BOYD: Since the year 2000, there have been over 3000 experiments conducted on the International Space Station and each astronaut plays a role in making sure these experiments are successful.

HOST PADI BOYD: On any given day, they could be developing new treatments for diseases or even testing concrete for future space structures!

HOST PADI BOYD: Today, Shane is working on agriculture in space. On his last trip to the station, Shane grew lettuce, and made a bit of a name for himself as a microgravity gardener. If all goes according to plan, this experiment could add some spice to the astronaut’s daily lives. Let’s listen in.

Shane Kimbrough: Alright I’m working on plant habitat now which is going to be back in here. I’m going to refill some water into that system so we can grow some chili peppers!

[plant experiment sounds, water, syringes]

Astronaut: Dude, you’re a beast!

Shane Kimbrough: It’s nothing man.

Astronaut:Thanks for that. Help you with the water?

Shane Kimbrough: Nah, I’m almost done. Almost done. Thanks.

Shane Kimbrough: Huntsville station on two for water refill. So we do a lot of talking to the ground. They have a lot of data that we don’t have. So they’re checking right now to make sure I put enough water in and if not we’ll add some more. Let’s get these plants growing.

Ground Control: Shane I’ve got you on two. We’re gonna need another full syringe, if you can try that again please.

Shane Kimbrough:Ok Huntsville. That’s one more syringe. Let me know what you think.

Megan McArthur: The quietest places on space station are probably…our sleeping quarters do have some soundproofing, but you can still always hear fan noise in there. The cupola is a little bit quieter and that’s nice when you’re watching the Earth go by to have a little bit of calm but that’s probably the sound that I miss the most from Earth is really the lack of sound, it’s just that quiet and we don’t ever get true quiet up here.

[sounds of the space station – piano playing, talking, clanks]

Megan McArthur: And so we, we listen to music or maybe we watch programs with headphones in to try to really be able to hear, hear well what we’re, what we’re trying to listen to.

[sound of strong rain, birds singing begins]

Megan McArthur:The other things that are sounds I miss from Earth are natural sounds so the sound of rain or the sound of really strong wind.

Megan McArthur:Those are some of the things that I miss from sounds on Earth and of course birds singing, you know, that kind of thing. We don’t get any of that up here.

[rain and bird songs stop]

HOST PADI BOYD: Living in space is a dream come true for these explorers, but it can also be challenging. You’re isolated away from your family and can only access a limited living space.

HOST PADI BOYD: With such a small team working so closely together, it’s important to keep morale up…and over the years, astronauts have found some pretty fun ways to shake things up. This is astronaut Chris Cassidy, on a mission in 2020.

Chris Cassidy: We’re having our Russian crewmates over for dinner, so preparing a bunch of drinks, apple cider, grapefruit juice, lemon lime drink, another grapefruit juice…

HOST PADI BOYD: Here are astronauts aboard the station, marking an important birthday celebration.

[astronauts singing ‘Happy birthday’]

HOST PADI BOYD: And this is current astronaut Thomas Pesquet, showing off his saxophone skills in microgravity.

[Thomas plays saxophone]

HOST PADI BOYD: Thank you so much for joining us for our listen in…on day in space. And a huge thank you to the astronauts of the International Space Station for giving us a backstage pass into the out-of-this- world experience of living in space.

HOST PADI BOYD: Thomas, if you wouldn’t mind, would you play us out?

Thomas Pesquet: Alright, I think that concludes our tour. Thanks a lot for flying with us today on air ISS.

[plays saxophone]

HOST PADI BOYD: This is NASA’s Curious Universe. This episode was written and produced by Christina Dana. Our executive producer is Katie Atkinson. The Curious Universe team includes Maddie Arnold, Kate Steiner and Micheala Sosby, with support from Emma Edmund and Priya Mittal.

HOST PADI BOYD: Our theme song was composed by Matt Russo and Andrew Santaguida of SYSTEM Sounds.

HOST PADI BOYD: Special thanks to Erin Anthony, Rachel Barry, Erica McNamee, Nicole Rose, Sarah Smith, and the Johnson Space Center team.

HOST PADI BOYD: Still curious about NASA? You can send us questions about this episode or a previous one and we’ll try to track down the answers! You can email a voice recording or send a written note to Go to for more information.

HOST PADI BOYD: Thank you for tuning in to the third season of NASA’s Curious Universe. We’ve enjoyed taking you along with us as we’ve explored even more of our wild and wonderful universe…from exoplanets to plasma and more. We’re taking a break now, but we’ll be back before you know it.

HOST PADI BOYD: Until then, you can continue exploring with NASA by visiting You can also follow NASA on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And, find more NASA podcasts, like “Gravity Assist” and “On A Mission,” in your favorite podcast app or by visiting

Thomas Pesquet: “FSL no touch” means no touch for literally the whole time we’re here. So we’re not touching it because we’re good people. We do what we’re told, most of the time. My tour’s so captivating, I’m yawning.