Isolating Like an Astronaut

To help us navigate this time of social distancing, three MIT astronauts share lessons of isolated living aboard the International Space Station.

CHAMITOFF: Living on the International Space Station is very much like being stuck in your house with a few people for a very long period of time. The ISS has about as much living space as a six-bedroom house. And hopefully you like your roommates and have established mechanisms for getting along even when there are disagreements. In space you feel separated from the rest of society — you are the only ones off the entire planet!

I expected to feel lonely during my six months in space, but it was quite the opposite. Having a daily sense of purpose, countless tasks and experiments to perform, and communication with people all over the world provided so much engagement with the world that loneliness was not a factor. There are some lessons here, perhaps, for everyone who now has to stay at home during this crisis.

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