In space, everybody can smell your armpits

Fun trailer for Mary Roach's new book, Packing for Mars, which comes out on August 2. It tells the story of life in outer space. In this video, early '60s-era NASA conducts some delightful experiments in "minimal personal hygiene", to find out how humans might respond, socially, to a reality without earthly bathrooms.

Via Submitterator



  1. Being a space nerd, I kept thinking, “But Shannon Lucid stayed on the ISS for six months, no problem.”

  2. My sweat smells good, I should have been a space traveler.

    Can they not use baby wipes?

  3. They could, but that would add to payload and to the amount of waste generated. In a low gravity environment such as a spaceship scents diffuse instantly, and you’re using recycled air.

    I had a professor who quoted an astronaut he met as saying, “Living on the space station is like living in an outhouse for six months.”

    They don’t tell you that part when your a kid.

  4. I remember a similar situation in Iraq. After spending weeks as a unit out in the desert not bathing, none of us could smell each other. I’m sure we all smelled equally rank. When we got back to where there were shower facilities and other people who had been bathing regularly it was confirmed that we smelled horrible to them but our own noses had been deadened to the smell. Seems like the astronauts would adapt in a similar way if they were together.

  5. They actually did this, on the Gemini 7 mission. Frank Borman and James Lovell spent *14* days in orbit in a Gemini capsule. mentions “A just-used urine collection bag split open early in the mission. The crew never managed to collect all the floating globules. When asked to describe the record flight later, Lovell described it as ‘…two weeks in the Men’s Room'”

  6. Cute video, but I don’t buy the bit at 1:12. A mere 10 hours of smelling his own effluvia drives the guy round the bend to Upchuckville?

    As Carlin pointed out, “ever notice that your own farts smell okay?” For me, at least, the same is mostly true of my other various stenches.

    Other people’s, however… gaaahhh.

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