In the Age of Spaceplanes

Stories from the shuttle astronauts, in their own words.


Ken Bowersox: A Bag of Clean Underwear


After six months, I’d pretty much been every place onboard the station. But one day when we were taking inventory, I decided to do a little exploring. I went up to this area above one of the ventilation units in the node, and it was like going up into your attic. I hadn’t even realized there was so much volume up there. And once I got up there, I found all this stuff that previous crews had stored, including a bag of underwear—clean underwear—that had been left behind. And it was my size! At the time we were conserving underwear, because the shuttle was out of commission [after the Columbia accident] and supplies were going to be tight for a while. I called down to the ground to tell them about my find. The bag was labeled “Voss” and “Usachev.” Expedition 2 underwear from two years earlier!

Pictured: Ken Bowersox unloading a Russian Progress cargo ship onboard the space station in 2003.

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