What Do Astronauts Do When Not In Space? [How Much Do They Work?]

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Astronauts have a truly amazing job. From operating science experiments on the International Space station to Exploring space. But what do they typically do when not on an expedition and are here on Earth? Intrigued, I spent some time researching to find out!

So, what do astronauts do when not in space? Astronauts spend most of their time training for future missions, supporting other active missions and communicating with other astronauts in space, supporting the design and preparation of upcoming expeditions and the tools and procedures used on them, and running experiments. Annual leave ranges from 13-25 days.

While being an astronaut is perhaps one of the most exciting jobs there is, its still a job.

Therefore, astronauts are entitled to annual leave and will only work a set amount of time each day (as we will soon find out).

But, this really is a unique career and one of great interest!

Keep reading to find out more about the fascinating lifestyle that these people lead!

What Do Astronauts Do When They Are Not On A Mission?

When not on a mission, astronauts will either be working, resting, or generally enjoying life. Many astronauts will also engage in a routine exercise program to remain fit; which is an essential requirement of this profession.

Of course, like any jobs there will be working hours and rest hours.

When it comes to work, the duties of an astronaut are very varied.

But first and foremost, they are principally responsible for supporting any current and live missions, and those upcoming and scheduled.

For instance, many astronauts will work in ‘mission control’.

This is essentially how astronauts in space communicate to us back on Earth.

At the same time, astronauts can be deployed to investigate procedures, test equipment and inspect that everything works as intended.

And when the day comes to an end, well, they will live life just as any other human on Earth.

Enjoying food, reading, playing sport, pursuing a hobby etc!

How Many Hours A Day Do Astronauts Work?

Astronauts typically have an 8-10 hour working day. This is true whether they are on a mission out in space, or are working here on Earth.

For the most part, an astronauts total working hours are not too dissimilar from the average 9-5.

Although, the times in which they do work will vary.

At the same time, during certain missions or periods of the year, an astronaut may be expected to work a few more hours in overtime.

Nothing excessive, just a 11-12 hour day, here and there.

Outside of working hours, an astronaut will eat, sleep, exercise, and unwind by watching movies, reading, and call home.

Again, this is true whether an astronaut is out in space or is on a mission on Earth.

How Many Days Do Astronauts Work?

Astronauts typically work 5-6 days per week, with Saturday usually being a half-day. Sunday is generally an astronaut’s day off, along with a few different holidays throughout the year.

For instance, US astronauts will typically not work on Independence day.

What Do Astronauts Do When They Leave NASA?

Astronauts will typically either enter into a new space-related role, or retire depending on their age or length of service.

Some former astronauts have taken up military positions, such as in the US Air Force.

Others have taken up senior positions at the US Space Command.

It is also typical for former astronauts to take up executive positions in the aerospace industry.

Then there are a few that enter politics, and others that go into very different careers and occupations like artists and architects.

It generally depends on the age of the astronaut, amount of experience, time in service and other competencies and preferences.


When not in space, astronauts spend most of their time supporting other active missions or preparing for the next one – whether they are on it or not!

As an astronaut, there is a lot that needs to be done.

And that also means rest and downtime is crucial.

So, it comes as no surprise that astronauts typically work a 8-10 hour day and a 5-6 day workweek.

Outside of this, they do what everyone else does.

Relax, rest, and enjoy life for what it is!