I was looking at the SpaceX Dragon capsule reentry. At some time after wake-up Bob gave a precise account of what was consumed from which bag. So many bottles of water, so many breakfasts, this bag is now empty, etc.

I would expect they took note of all that somehow when they took the items. So they don't forget anything.

The question is why don't they do that electronically*? They could have an app that lets them view the inventory and tick the items they take from the bags. That would be synchronized with Mission Control. Doing an oral report looks terribly inefficient.

* using electronic data transfer

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    $\begingroup$ Part of the reason why we need astronauts at all is they are cheaper than automation $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2020 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ Shortly after they undocked, they had an issue with an app.aboard the Crew Dragon. To be fair, the iPad that had the issue was only being used display the return itinerary, and everything they actually needed was on the devices locally, but it definitely startled the heck out of me when the astronauts initially reported it. $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Aug 10, 2020 at 1:54
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    $\begingroup$ Have you tried typing in a spacesuit? $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Aug 10, 2020 at 10:25
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    $\begingroup$ @FlorianF, if you could name a way that astronauts can communicate with ground without the use of electronic devices I'd be very impressed. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Aug 10, 2020 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ I think you're both being needlessly pedantic here. @Uwe It is clear from context that Florian meant electronic data capture and transmission, not just electronic transmission. Florian, It is also clear from context that Uwe meant that there is no way for astronauts in this situation to communicate without electronics. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Aug 10, 2020 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


I would expect they took note of all that somehow when they took the items.

Do you take note of every time you take a pen, a pad of paper, or a screen cleaner from your employer's office supply cabinet? I don't. My employer only has a sheet where one is supposed to make a note if some type of supply is running low. (Some companies reportedly do require employees to record every pen taken, every pad of paper taken, every packet of screen cleaner taken. From what I've heard, it is a huge pain in the rear.) The office supply cabinet is there to easily supply supplies so as to makes the people who work their more efficient.

This was the first SpaceX flight with people aboard. I would expect that SpaceX provided an excess of consumables, partly because in case of a contingencies that would make the flight last longer, but also partly because this was their first time.

The crew spent 18 hours and 20 minutes in the capsule between undocking from the International Space Station and the start of the deorbit burn. Some of that time was spent watching over critical operations, some of it was spent sleeping and eating, and some spent for needed downtime. That still left a good amount of time. Allocating time for taking inventory so they didn't have to record each time they grabbed a bottle of water was a useful allocation of time.

  • $\begingroup$ A previous employer of mine actually did have this requirement. It was only a minor inconvenience. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2020 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ I'll accept this answer. My mistake was to imagine Bob in his chair enumerating from memory what he used, possibly from a notebook, while he probably was floating around the capsule looking in the cupboards, reading the id numbers from the bags. And they didn't consume so much that he would need to take notes and refer to it. $\endgroup$
    – Florian F
    Aug 10, 2020 at 18:20

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