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Sol Journal – November 11th

November 11, 2016

Laundry on Mars or Robert Zubrin’s invention

How often do you need to do the laundry on Mars? If you have to choose no bacteria and smell or no stains on your clothes, what would you choose?

Smelly clothes, no water, no soap but happy crew. How could this be possible? Thanks to president of Mars Society Robert Zubrin. He invented a special machine, which can kill all the bacteria in clothes and therefore the smell of sweat.

Four of the crew members arrived in Denver and visited Zubrin’s company Pioneer Astronautics. It was a cozy office with Mars Colonization posters hanging on the walls. Suddenly a beautiful spaniel dog came out. “Kepler, welcomes you!” – said Robert with a smile, appearing from  the CEO room. Kepler follows Robert to work every day. As we continued the excursion of the office,  more and more it was obvious that here is where creative engineering lives. Before entering an engineering and construction laboratory, we put on protective glasses. Pipes, tanks of different liquids and gas, metal parts and much more than I can describe. Robert asked an employee if the machine was ready for us. Transparent plastic cylinder, where the clothes should be placed covered by the lid with pipe. The pipe connected to vacuum pump, which just requires electricity to work.

The mechanism of this unique machine is simple. It creates low pressure, less than 1/30th of an atmosphere in cylinder with dirty clothes. The water inside the bacterial cell boils, eventually breaks down the cell wall and deprived of its water, the bacteria dies. The sweat and oil that our body produces also evaporates. Since there is no water and chemicals to dissolves the stains, Martians will have clothes with no trace of the sweat but with spots. Luckily, astronauts do not care so much about the flawless look of their clothes.

We tested vacuum laundry machine at Robert’s office and after he gave us the “Go”, we packed it into our car and head off to Mars Desert Research Station. It has been almost two months since we began to use our unusual washing machine. We put our dirty clothes into cylinder or vacuum chamber, cover it with the lid, switch on the vacuum pump for 2 hours, and leave the chamber closed for an hour after. Then take out the clothes and smell it. Magic, socks do not smell at all!

I hope this prototype is just a first generation of vacuum laundry machine industry on Mars and in solar system. What a brilliant idea to use resources of space – the vacuum. No need to waste the precious water, to carry cleaning chemicals, all you need is to use the vacuum outside of your spaceship!