In the discussion in the comments of this answer, I questioned whether the (reported) full 40 hours of designated work time (per week) for a new International Space Station (ISS) crew member could be spent on science (aside from exercise). I asked whether exercise counted as work time, and Organic Marble suggested I ask this as a new question.

I know we've had a question on how ISS crew splits their time between different activities before:

How is time split on different activities on ISS?

However, that doesn't seem to address whether the allotted exercise time comes out of their 40 hour work week.

Is exercise part of their work hours or not?

Update from comments: A thorough answer to this question needs to address not only whether the exercise is counted in the work week, but how many hours are in the work week and what portion of it is exercise.


1 Answer 1


No, exercise time is not part of the "40 hour" work week.

From the question you linked to:

06.00 wake up, breakfast
07.30 planning conference
08.15 start of the work day: science and maintenance activities plus workouts.
13.00 lunch
14.00 resume work
18.15 work preparation for the next day, another planning conference
19.30 dinner, then free time
21.30 sleep

So work from 7.30 to 13.00 is 5.5 h, 14.00 to 19.30 is another 5.5 h, for a total of 11 h including 2.5 h of exercise and 1.5 h for planning conferences and preparation. This leaves 7 h for science and maintenance activities.

That schedule is adhered to for 5 days/wk. On Saturday, astronauts do housekeeping and station maintenance. I'd count that as work as well. Sunday is a day off, unless there's an event (spacecraft arrives or leaves). Some science experiments have daily requirements so these continue though the weekend.

The ISS research resource planning shows that recent ISS expeditions had an average output of 40 hours/week of science when 6 crew were on board. That's 40 hours for 6 people combined. So most of their work day is spent on station operations and maintenance rather than science.

A 7th crewmember would be able to work mostly on science (as the maintenance workload doesn't increase much with 7 crew vs. 6). If he can spend all of his working hours Mon-Fri on science, that would add 35 h of science to the total output. Maybe a few hours on Saturday can be spent on science as well.


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