This article talks about a 'Personal Preference Kit;, a bag measuring 5" x 8" x 2", that could weigh no more than 1.5 lbs. It was the sole space an astronaut could use for personal items. But it turns out that was the case on Shuttle missions. On the ISS each astronaut has a locker, part of a private compartment where they sleep, that can hold a lot more stuff.

private crew compartment on the International Space Station

What are the allotments for an ISS mission in terms of personal effects? What do people generally bring? How much of that allotment tends to get turned over to mementos and things crew bring with them on behalf of groups such as schools or clubs? What personal effects are supplied and thus don't have to be brought (for instance toiletries)?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You might have better luck if you split this into several questions. For example, "what do people generally bring" would be enormously difficult to answer given the number of crewmembers who have been at the ISS. Whereas "what are the allotments" and "What personal effects are supplied" could probably be answered with a little research. You have 5 separate although related questions in this one entry. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2015 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble although there are a number of separate questions, i thought they could be answered briefly enough that they belonged together. The answer might get a little long but it's better to have it all in one place. I actually did try to find information on this before asking and got nothing, which really surprised me. If there aren't a few things, or kinds of things, that people typically bring, then it does get a lot more complicated. I made an assumption that there are. Photos, articles of clothing, a tablet... $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Jun 30, 2015 at 14:55

3 Answers 3


Chris Hadfield responded to this question this way:

The Soyuz is very small and the weight balance affects how it flies, so we are very restricted in what we can bring. I thus chose small items for my family and close friends: a new wedding ring for my wife, commemorative jewellery, a watch for my daughter (I flew a watch each for my sons on previous flights), a full family photo for my Mom and Dad, and some mission emblem guitar picks.

The video below mentions some of the items two astronauts listed - Scott Kelly mentioned 'a little tool pouch... certain kinds of sweat shirts and sweat pants... certain kinds of shoes for the weight-lifting device" Reid Wiseman said "I'd make sure I had some local baseball, local football shirts", he showed a toy giraffe and said "I got two kids, and so this one actually flew with me in space, this is giraffity", also "here is my yo-yo, that I had up there". He showed some of his kids' drawings that he had.

The food he showed likely didn't count as personal luggage, but as 'bonus foods'. Each astronaut has a supply provided, as a personal comfort, which is helpful for morale. They come up with the care packages shown later in the video.

Sunita Williams had these items

The Indian American is busy packing up her personal things which she took up with her, including a yo yo, a crew notebook with pictures, speciality t-shirts and a family photo album.

Anousheh Ansari:

Yes, each person is allowed five kilograms of personal items, including clothes. I took a few personal items from people close to me so I could return those to them from space: wedding rings, little pieces of jewellery.


For anyone interested, JSC has a list of “government furnished equipment,” and, “flight crew equipment,” which has been approved for use in space. The commercial products listed within can be selected from the document - much like a menu - as part of the “crew preference” items, such as under-arm deodorant, etc. (All of it has to be validated for off-gassing, etc.)

The document is: JSC 28533 Rev E


  • $\begingroup$ It would be nice to add some links and references to the document you mentioned! $\endgroup$
    – user17622
    Sep 5, 2018 at 13:00

Robert Frost, an engineer and instructor who has trained many astronauts for the International Space Station, gave the following list on Quora: (link)

  • 1 pair of shoes for the treadmill
  • 1 pair of shoes for the bike
  • 1 pair of exercise shorts for every 3 days of exercise
  • 1 T-shirt for every 3 days of exercise
  • 1 work shirt for every 10 days
  • 1 T-shirt for under the workshirt for every 10 days
  • 1 pair work pants/shorts for every 10 days
  • 1 pair underwear for every 2 days
  • 1 pair socks for every 2 days
  • 2 sweaters
  • 2 pairs Russian overalls (optional)
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Clothing is supplied by NASA, and not part of the personal effects budget. The question was about things like photos, the astronauts' kids' drawings and Chris Hadfield's guitar. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Aug 8, 2015 at 6:50
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The guitar is not a personal effect either, mission control put it on the station in 2001. Hadfield did not bring it. $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2015 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Rikki-Tikki-Tavi: Can you cite that info? $\endgroup$
    – jvriesem
    Aug 28, 2015 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @jvriesem space.com/14938-space-guitar-astronaut-music-album.html $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2015 at 11:06

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