Learning to live together
Do you feel homesick after being away for a week or two? Do you feel lonely after being on your own for a few hours? If so, you may not enjoy being an astronaut.
In some ways, living in a space station is like being stranded on a desert island. A crew of two or three astronauts has to survive far from home for weeks or months at a time.
If their mission is to be a success, they have to learn to live and work together as a team. This is not easy when they may have known each other for only a year or two.
ESA astronauts come from many different countries. They have to fly with astronauts from the United States, Russia and Japan. All of these space travellers have different languages, different customs and different ways of looking at things.
Crew members have to learn to share jobs such as cleaning and repairs. They also have to talk over problems and agree how to overcome them.
Fortunately, astronauts can now send e-mails and talk to their families over video links. The isolation is also broken by regular deliveries of mail and visiting crews.