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SpaceX sent Tide detergent to astronauts on the ISS so they can figure out how to do laundry for long-haul trips to Mars

Proctor and Gamble makes Tide detergent.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Astronauts on the ISS received a shipment of items onboard a SpaceX spacecraft on Wednesday.
  • The shipment included specially-developed laundry detergent made by Tide.
  • Currently, astronauts can’t launder their clothes, they wear sets of clothes a few times then replace them.

SpaceX ferried a festive shipment of items up to astronauts on the International Space Station on Wednesday including Christmas presents, roast turkey, and laundry detergent.

The detergent was made by Proctor and Gamble, the company that owns Tide, and is for a serious scientific experiment.

The astronauts aboard the ISS will be experimenting on the specially-developed detergent to see how well it launders clothes in space.

The partnership with Tide was announced back in June, and according to Proctor and Gamble, astronauts on the ISS currently wear clothing several times before just replacing it with a new set. New clothing is delivered to them via shipments from Earth.

The experiments on Tide’s detergent will also help NASA figure out how astronauts on future manned missions to the moon and  Mars could wash their clothes. 

“Without a laundry solution, 160 pounds of clothing per crew member per year are launched to ISS,” the press release said.

“Once you start having extended trips out in space, laundry is a must-have,” Mark Sivik, senior director and research fellow at Proctor and Gamble, told Space.com.

Per Space.com, NASA estimates that without laundry, astronauts would need 500 pounds of clothing each to make the trip to Mars.

“What we’ve developed here is fully degradable and designed to work within the space station’s closed-loop system,” Sivik told Space.com.

Next year, per Tide’s June press release, the company intends to ship up stain-removal products including Tide To Go Wipes and Tide To Go Pens for the astronauts to test in microgravity.

NASA plans to return humans to the moon by 2025. It then plans to build a lunar base from which to send astronauts to Mars.

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