Tweeting from space: Astronaut Scott Kelly talks about life aboard ISS in NASA’s 1st Twitter chat

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly © Maxim Zmeyev
Astronaut Scott Kelly has chatted with people on Earth online, including US President Barack Obama, in what NASA has described as its first-ever Twitter chat from space.

A question tweeted by US President Barack Obama, who asked if Kelly “ever looks out of the window and just freaks out” has been one of the highlights of the #YearInSpace Twitter interview.

Kelly replied that he doesn’t freak out about anything, except for “getting a tweet from you, Mr. President.”

Answering dozens of other questions, Kelly has revealed many details of his everyday routines, and how they differ from those on Earth.

A daily assignment astronauts are “absolutely required to do before anything else” appears to be ensuring fresh water supply with “putting urine in, taking water out.”

There were also a lot of questions connected with the current mission to grow vegetables in space.

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For the moment, it’s lettuce, and the astronauts are going to eat the first space salad “in a couple of weeks.” The next might be fungi, Kelly said.

All in all, there are some 400 experiments planned for the Year In Space mission.

Apart from the planned missions, there are daily duties, the hardest of which is “repairing the suits we wear outside for spacewalking.”

Many of the questions were about ISS inhabitants’ free time on the space station.

One of the pressing issues was exercising. Kelly works out six times a week, with cardio and strength training part of the routine. In particular, he runs a treadmill attached with bungee cords - so as not to float away.

Kelly notes that has rarely had an opportunity to read, and although he leaves through newspapers sent to him digitally, he “hasn’t read any books yet.”

However, the astronauts write a lot, so they “use pens, pencils, markers” and Kelly writes with “a Sharpie” (marker).

Among Kelly’s other ISS hobbies is photography, and his photos have become popular with thousands of users around the world.

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His favorite objects to take pictures of recently have been “the stars, the sun and the moon,” he says.

Speaking about other pastimes, Kelly said that they watched “Gravity” – the Oscar-winning Alfonso Cuaron epic set in space, and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Kelly also went into detail on the small everyday routines that are easy for us – but turn into a real quest in space.

“We use a wet towel [to take a shower]. It’s amazing what people can get used to,” he says.

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Kelly wrote that he “has trouble sleeping sometimes, so uses a sleeping pill occasionally,” and usually sleeps for six to seven hours. He also has “weird dreams” in space, and has taken to writing them all down. More often than at home, Kelly dreams of himself in space. After he wakes up, he says he often feels “disoriented.”

“Not knowing which way is up” is the oddest sensation, he tweeted.

Also, Kelly posted a photo of his ISS room, which is “very small.”

He also “speaks Russian at varying ability,” although the “Russian guys are the best,” he joked.

Asked what he misses most, Kelly said: “people and outside.” If he could choose any place to be other than the ISS, Kelly understandably picks “in my pool in my backyard with friends and family.”

“I hear it’s hot in Houston,” Kelly added.

He says he talks to his family every day, and although the ISS crew don’t have smartphones, they do have satellite devices and iPads.