Tide is making the world's first space detergent to enable astronauts wash clothes in space. P&G is working on a washing machine too. Due to the lack of means to wash clothes while on mission, astronauts generally wear their clothes and discard them by packing them in trash, that burns up in the atmosphere aboard discarded cargo ships.
To discourage this practice and to make sure that astronauts can wash and reuse their clothes in space, just like how they do it on Earth, the detergent company has teamed up with Procter & Gamble Co for this project.
Space station astronauts exercise two hours every day in order to keep in check the withering effects of weightlessness on muscle and bone. "After that they are deemed toxic," said Leland Melvin, former NASA astronaut, NFL player, and spokesperson for the project to AP. "They like have a life of their own. They are so stiff from all that sweat," he said, adding that the used clothes turn so foul that astronauts end up using a pair of T-shits, shorts and socks every week.
Astronauts need about a total of 68 kgs of clothes in space per year. Cargo ships are expensive, so NASA is looking for ways to not use that to ship clothes. Imagine the quantity of clothes that would be required for a three-year mission to Mars!
The Cincinnati company, as an experiment, plans to send detergent and stain-removal products to astronauts in the space station in December. It will send detergent custom-made for space to see the product's reaction to weightlessness. Stain removal pens and wipe shall too reach the astronauts in May for testing purpose.
While the detergent is in process, P&G is developing a minimalistic washer-dryer combo that could work on the moon and Mars and would use less water and detergent. The machine can also be used on Earth, especially in arid regions.
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