Cramped spaces and weightlessness made living in space very different from living on Earth. Consequently, astronauts had to make adjustments in various daily activities, including the way they ate, drank, dressed, and even urinated.
Jump to a Section: Eating Drinking Breathing Going to the Bathroom Health and Hygiene Clothing and Accessories In Case of Emergency Compared to Earlier Missions
Most food for the Apollo missions was preserved through a process known as freeze-drying. Prior to packaging, a food was quick-frozen and then placed into a vacuum chamber. The vacuum removed all moisture from the foods. They were then packaged while still in the vacuum chamber. Freeze-drying provides foods that will keep their nutrition and taste qualities almost indefinitely. They are extremely light and compact and require no refrigeration.
Some of these Apollo foods—the cereal and brownie cubes, for example—may be eaten without preparation. The others must have hot or cold water added through the nozzle at the end of the package. Unlike the Gemini program water guns that only injected cold water for rehydrating foods, the Apollo program had water guns that injected either hot or cold water. After rehydration, the food was squeezed into the astronaut's mouth through the flat tube stored in the package. After the food has been eaten, a small tablet was inserted into the package to kill bacterial growth.
John Glenn was the first American to eat in space aboard Friendship 7 in 1962. At that time, it was not known if ingestion and absorption of nutrients were possible in a state of zero gravity. Find out how space food has changed since Glenn's history-making flight.
Fuels cells in the Apollo spacecraft provided most of the water for astronauts' needs. Fuel cells create electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen, producing water as a byproduct of this process. A portion of the water supply was chilled for drinking and food preparation. The rest was heated for use in hot meals. This was more sophisticated than earlier flights.
Ampules of chlorine were carried on the Apollo 11 flight to prevent the growth of bacteria in the spacecraft water supply.
The ampule's casing contained a syringe that periodically injected the chlorine into the water system. After a short time, buffer solution was added to the water in a similar way, which would neutralize the chlorine to make the water safe to drink.
To help astronauts survive the forbidding environment of space, the Apollo spacecraft were designed with many safety features. The command and lunar modules protected the astronauts against such hazards as cosmic radiation, extremes of heat and cold, and micro-meteoroids. The Environmental Control Systems and the Crew Life Support Systems in the spacecraft provided the crews with oxygen, water, and food.
The atmosphere in the Apollo spacecraft was 100% oxygen, at a pressure of five pounds per square inch. The oxygen system constantly added fresh oxygen to the cabin to replenish that breathed by the crew.
Carbon dioxide exhaled by the astronauts was removed by canisters of lithium hydroxide, like this one.
This mask was carried on the Apollo 11 flight and would have been used if smoke or another toxic gas had filled the spacecraft before the astronauts could don their space suits.
Going to the Bathroom
Urine was collected by this device, worn under clothing, that was kept sanitary by using roll-on cuffs. The urine was then transferred to a tank through the rubber urine transfer tube.
This bag was meant for disposal and storage of used components of the urine collection device on Apollo missions.
Fecal matter was sealed in a Fecal Bag with a liquid germicide and sealed again in an outer bag. This solid waste was then placed into a Sanitation Box built into the spacecraft.
Health and Hygiene
In order to maintain health like they would on Earth—but in a very limited space—Apollo astronauts needed to have special equipment. On the Apollo 11 flight, this equipment allowed the astronauts to exercise within the limited confines of an Apollo spacecraft.
Apollo astronauts also carried equipment to monitor their health.
Clothing and Accessories
The restraint assembly was designed to hold a sleeping astronaut in place so that he would not float about, possibly interfering with the operation of the spacecraft. This assembly flew on Apollo 11.
In Case of Emergency
This is the first of the two rucksacks flown on the historic first lunar-landing mission, Apollo 11, in 1969. It includes three water containers, one radio beacon with spare battery, three pairs of sunglasses, six packages of desalted chemicals, one desalter kit, two survival lights, one machete, and two bottles of sunscreen. The second rucksack (not pictured) contained a three-man life raft, a sea anchor, and three sun bonnets.
How Does This Compare to Earlier Missions?
During the Mercury program, which sent humans into space for a short period of time in preparation for the Apollo lunar missions, most of the equipment carried was standard military issue. The Apollo kits differed considerably because most of its items were designed and built specifically for use by astronauts. For instance, compare the following:
Components of the Freedom 7 Survival Kit
Apollo Survival Kit
Freedom 7 Medical Kit
This first aid pouch, labeled 'First Aid Kit, Aviator, Camouflaged' was standard military equipment assigned to Alan Shepard for his Freedom 7 mission in May 1961. The original contents of the pouch are unknown.
Apollo Medical Kit
This medical kit was carried in the Apollo command module. It contains bandages, eye and nose drops, sleeping pills, and self-injectors to treat motion sickness and pain.
Small medical kits were carried in the Apollo lunar module. They contain sleeping pills, aspirin and other pain relief medication, eyewash, and bandages.
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Going to the Bathroom
Mercury Waste Containment Bag
This urine accumulator bag, made of latex rubber, was part of the personal hygiene equipment issued to astronaut John Glenn on his Friendship 7 flight in February 1962. Though it was flown on this mission, it was never used because the flight lasted less than 5 hours.
Apollo Urine Collection and Transfer
Urine was collected by this urine collection device, worn under clothing, that was kept sanitary by using roll-on cuffs. The urine was then transferred to a tank through the rubber urine transfer tube.
Gemini spacecraft provided only cold water, so all re-hydrated foods on those missions were eaten cold.
Fuel cells create electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen, producing water as a byproduct of this process. A portion of the water supply was chilled for drinking and food preparation. The rest was heated for use in hot meals. This was more sophisticated than earlier flights.