This is Mike Hopkins – if you didn’t recognize him!
Most people probably assumed space was devoid of any sort of distinct musk — space is just a cold, dark, lifeless place, after all. But not so, says NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who recently returned to Earth after 166 days aboard the International Space Station.
Yesterday, in a tell-all, “ask-me-anything” Reddit interview, Hopkins spilled some of space’s secrets — including the fact that it smells.
“Space has a smell,” Hopkins wrote in one of his many responses. “And I don’t mean inside the space station,” he continued. “When a visiting vehicle docks with the space station, there is ‘space’ between the two vehicles. Once the pressure is equalized and the hatch is opened, you have this metallic ionization-type smell. It’s quite unique and very distinct.”
Among the other nuggets of space truth offered by Hopkins were the facts that: astronauts sweat and occasionally get nervous, the food isn’t that bad (his favorites were beef enchiladas and apricot cobbler), and that the he and his fellow ISS companions drink sweat to keep hydrated.
“The interesting part is that the sweat does go into the condensate system that gets recycled,” Hopkins wrote. “Eventually after the towels dry off and the water is recycled, it becomes drinking water.”
I know our culture inhibits casual reading of anything that even sounds like it’s somehow scientific. Still, I keep hoping.