Astronauts are expected to conduct a wealth of experiments on the International Space Station (ISS). They also have a lot of other tasks, like maintenance work. Even astronauts get time off in space. An astronaut's working day is not so different from that on Earth. Of course, it is a unique environment, but they work eight hours, sometimes nine or ten hours if a job requires overtime, just like in normal life.

Astronaut's Muscles

Then there are eight hours of sleep and two hours of sports every day. That's important to ensure an astronaut's muscles, bones and metabolism function well. The rest consists of eating, body care, and social contacts, like calling home, joining a video conference, or watching a movie in their free time.

There is all the traffic with the transport vehicles that arrive now and then. They have to be unloaded and loaded. The cargo needs to be repackaged, installed, switched on, and checked to make sure it's running smoothly. It's all part of everyday life. They have space 'muscle memory.'

Working Duration

It's like on Earth: Saturday is half a working day. The other half is reserved for cleaning the spaceship. Sunday is free. And there are holidays too.  Yes, they have their specific holidays. But they're not always so strictly observed. Independence Day in the US is usually a holiday, and there's not much going on up there. Astronauts have a voluntary task.

On weekends or in their free time they are often busy with educational programs. They carry out so-called trouser pocket experiments for students who have developed them in their class. They want to inspire young people to take up physics, technology, engineering and other sciences. They will need them in the future.

Whether an astronaut works eight or ten hours up there, the day always has 24 hours.  And the astronauts like to do it. Everybody tries to get the most out of the mission, no matter how long it takes and no matter how much effort it takes. 

Astronauts Sleep

It is important that astronauts get to sleep because if they don't, the work suffers. Well if it's almost the end of the day, and there's still work to be done, work that might take another few hours, you let it go and see if it's okay to move on. You try not to leave a cable hanging out somewhere, or leave something in a gangway that might cause someone else to stumble.

The astronaut will also check with mission planners on the ground and see if there's anything else that needs doing. There may be something urgent that takes precedence. But the main thing is they leave a project or experiment in a safe and tidy fashion.