NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on Saturday hosted a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” live chat, answering a wide range of questions from fans who were curious about everything from smells in the space station to how he sleeps.
He doesn’t get much sleep – but when he does, his dreams are “crazy”
Kelly sleeps with his arms folded in front of his chest to avoid the “awkward” feeling of having them dangle in front of him. “Your arms don't hang by your side in space like they do on Earth because there is no gravity. It feels awkward to have them floating in front of me,” he said. “It is just more comfortable to have them folded. I don't even have them floating in my sleep, I put them in my sleeping bag.”
The astronaut goes to bed at 10 p.m. and is up by 6 a.m., although he says it’s difficult to get some shut-eye. “Sleeping here is harder here in space than on a bed because the sleep position here is the same position throughout the day. You don't ever get that sense of gratifying relaxation here that you do on Earth after a long day at work,” he said.
Humming noises also make sleeping tougher, according to Kelly, who says he wears earplugs to reduce the noise. “I am not a great sleeper. I don't think I have ever slept 8 hours straight in the last 20 years,” he said. “I wind up waking up a couple of times. My dreams are sometimes space dreams and sometimes Earth dreams. And they are crazy.”
He thinks the toilet is the creepiest thing about living in space
Kelly said he recently had to “clean up a gallon-sized ball of urine mixed with acid” when asked what he found creepy about space-living. “The acid is added to the urine so the urine doesn't damage the machinery that moves it through the system,” he explained. “It keeps it from clogging up the system.”
The bottoms of his feet are as soft as a newborn baby’s
When asked to share “something unusual” about being in space, Kelly said nobody would really know what happens to an astronaut’s feet. “The calluses on your feet in space will eventually fall off. So, the bottoms of your feet become very soft like newborn baby feet,” he said. “But the top of my feet develop rough alligator skin because I use the top of my feet to get around here on space station when using foot rails.”
His first meal back on Earth will be a cucumber
Kelly said he will either be handed a piece of fruit or a cucumber when he lands back home. It will likely be the first thing “the Russian nurse hands me as soon as I am pulled out of the space capsule and begin initial health checks,” he said.
Space sometimes smells like garbage
The space station occasionally smells like antiseptic, depending on which segment, Kelly said. "Sometimes it has an odor that smells like garbage. But the smell of space when you open the hatch smells like burning metal to me," he said.
TIME is producing a series of documentary films about Kelly's yearlong mission aboard the space station. Kelly, due to return to earth on March 1st, now holds the record for the longest continuous spaceflight of any American.