What do astronauts do while traveling to the ISS so they don't get bored? I know they must check equipment and do science experiments, but what they do in their free time?

  • $\begingroup$ Related question on how long it takes to get to the ISS here $\endgroup$
    – Phiteros
    Sep 11, 2016 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff are you implying they spend their time flipping around, gazing through the window, and fly chasing water bubbles with their mouth wild open ? $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Sep 12, 2016 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ They brought books to read on gemini 7 $\endgroup$
    – Innovine
    Sep 12, 2016 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ It would be good to clarify whether you are asking specifically about transit to the ISS (6 hours or 2 days on Soyuz) or while on the station (several months), as your second sentence seems to imply. $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2016 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


It depends somewhat. There are basically 2 profiles to getting to the ISS. One of them requires only 6 hours to dock with the station, in which case there is no down time at all. As for the longer, 2 day docking profiles, they most likely don't hit that point. There is a lot to do in those two days, and much like driving across country, there's a lot to see to prevent that boredom from sinking in completely. Early flights were in fact very operator intensive, so there probably wasn't much time to be bored. They do have access to television, but I can't find much more in the ways of entertainment prior to docking with the space station.

  • $\begingroup$ I have to question you on this. If they can do it in 6 hours, what exactly do you mean when you say "There is a lot to do in those two days." - it sounds like there's at least 42 hours of extra time. The tiny windows can't actually be that scenic, and there's going to be much better windows up ahead. I think they will be bored. Do they have any access to internet, or even recorded movies? A laptop or tablet? Anything with a screen that shows more than spacecraft status? Can they bring books in the capsule to read? Can you name a specific activity that they do to keep from being bored? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 12, 2016 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ Usually when they do the longer timelines it is because they are testing something. I'm sure there is some room for things to keep them occupied as well, although I wasn't able to see much of it. They seem to keep that stuff surprisingly hidden... $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Sep 12, 2016 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ OK that makes a lot of sense - I'm sure there are always scientists or engineers that have projects or tests. There's no such thing as too much data. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 12, 2016 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ I've heard that the fast track to the ISS is less popular among astronauts, because they sit strapped down all the time. I suppose they prefer to experience weightlessness and stretch the legs. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Sep 13, 2016 at 8:14

I've asked a couple of astronauts, and apparently they actually do get surprisingly bored! (This is in the context of long-duration missions on the ISS, not transfer from/to Earth on Soyuz). They have limited, slow internet access, a library of DVDs and iPads, as well as whatever books they can bring in their Personal Preference Kits (1kg max). I haven't seen any references to whether Kindles have been approved for flight.

There are some musical instruments on the station including a guitar and a keyboard. Photography is also a popular pastime. Suitably licensed astronauts can chat to hams on Earth via amateur radio.

  • $\begingroup$ Question was about the transfer to the ISS, not about the stay in the ISS. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jan 12, 2019 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe see my comment on the question, to which the OP didn't respond $\endgroup$ Jan 12, 2019 at 16:56

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