Astronaut doesn't change his undies for a month

Koichi Wakata had been on the International Space Station since March and has been wearing the same pair of bacteria-killing underwear for the last month.

I know science thinks it can do everything.

I know robots will soon be ordering us around like wait staff at the Ritz.

But I am gravely concerned about an experiment that has been going on up there in space.

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who returned to earth Friday , had been on the International Space Station since March. And, well, I don't know quite how I am to put this, but he didn't change his underwear for a month.

I know what you're thinking. We're both thinking the same thing.

Not even in the the darkest, most slovenly days of our student youth did we wear the same pair of knickers for 30 days. Around seven days was our limit. Then we'd at least manage a hand wash in a sink.

But here was the intrepid Wakata, prepared for the sake of all our futures to don anti-static, flame-resistant, odor-eating, bacteria-killing, water-absorbent underpants . Yes, water-absorbent.

Will we only have two pairs in the drawer one day? Or even one? CC Mike52ad/Flickr

I know that there was a lady astronaut a little while ago who wore diapers on a long car journey, but this is surely couture from another realm.

The London Times quoted Wakata as saying, pre-landing: "I haven't talked about this underwear to my crew members."

This is quite understandable. I rarely talk about my underwear to my clients. Not even my underwear clients. However, wasn't just the occasional merest stink caused by this novel eco-friendly fashion show?

"I wore it for about a month and my station crew members never complained, so I think the experiment went fine," he said.

Well, now, in polite society one doesn't normally comment when a fellow worker suffers something of a digestional malfunction, so how can Wakata be sure that his fellow astronauts weren't furtively making sniffy remarks about certain odors emanating from his person?

I know you'll be wondering what astronauts normally do with their soiled undies. Firstly, they take them off. Then they pack them up with the trash, which they shoot into outer space on human-less Russian cargo ships. On the way, the dirty undies are cremated.

But here's the thing with Wakata's undergarments: the Japanese space agency, Jaxa, which designed them, has no firm idea just how well they performed their task.

Which makes two pulsating thoughts thud around my cranium.

One: what if the anti-static, flame-resistant, odor-eating, bacteria-killing, water-absorbent qualities didn't work so well? Especially the last two. What effects might imperfect performance have on poor Mr. Wakata's inner well-being?

And two, I must do the washing.

 

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