There was a story recently about how NASA was partnering with Tide laundry detergent to work on a way to do laundry in space.

Of course, if you think about the meaning of this partnership, it means we don’t already do laundry in space.

And the question that comes to mind is: why don’t we do laundry in space?

We’ve been going up there a long time now!

The short answer is that it would be hard to do it.

The astronauts are careful with their water usage, since they only have so much of it on, say, the International Space Station.

And even if they had pipes running up there, where would they put the washing machine?

And would it even work in weightless space?

You can’t really hang wash on the line in zero gravity.

So essentially astronauts just keep wearing clothes until they fall apart, or until the astronauts can’t stand to wear them anymore.

While clothes don’t get as dirty in the temperature-controlled conditions on space stations as they would on Earth, there’s a catch: astronauts spend a lot of time in space doing exercise, to keep their muscle tone and mass in zero gravity.

There have been attempts to find solutions for astronauts’ dirty clothes before, even attempts to use old clothes to grow plants in space, or feed it to bacteria to create a space biofuel.

The new idea is a little more basic: they’re going to send up some specially-formulated space detergent and see how well it works.

The Royal Mail just delivered a letter with an unusual address, or not quite an address.

The envelope sought a Katrina (sic) Davis, who “lives in a blue and green shed on a crossroads near a village 21 miles from Lands End, as featured on BBC2 Simon Reeve Cornwall programme.”

And they found her!

NASA and Tide team up to do laundry in space (CNET)

Astronauts’ Dirty Laundry (NASA)

Royal Mail delivers letter addressed to ‘woman in Cornwall shed’ (BBC)

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Photo via NASA