The actor and comedian, who hosts the new documentary series "One Strange Rock," had an amusing 20-minute chat with NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, a flight engineer for Expedition 55. The series, which premiered March 26 on the National Geographic Channel, tells the story of life on Earth from the perspective of astronauts — the only people who have ever left it.
During their call, Feustel and Smith talked about life in orbit, the effects of weightlessness on the human body, and the "overview effect" that many astronauts experience when seeing Earth from space. Smith also had some very practical spaceflight questions for Feustel, like "How do you poop?" and "What does it smell like in the International Space Station?" [Space Station Photos: Expedition 55 Crew in Orbit]
Feustel didn't offer many details on the subject of pooping in space (but if you really want to know, Space.com has the scoop on space poop here). "You hope for the good days, but the bad days can be challenging," Feustel said, and left it at that. He was more open to talking about his personal hygiene routine, which doesn't involve showering or bathing. Instead, the astronauts rub soaking-wet towels and soap all over their bodies every day. "It's hard to stay real clean up here," Feustel said.
Those wet towels are responsible for some of the aromas you can find in the space station, Feustel said. Food smells are also pretty common inside the orbiting lab, which currently houses six crewmembers. But space also has a smell outside of the station, Feustel said. Astronauts returning from spacewalks tend to reek of ozone, which smells like burnt wire, he said.
Smith asked Feustel whether he knew of any astronauts who had joined the "mile high club" in space (in other words, whether anyone has had sex in space). Smith asked, "Has anyone attempted for research purposes…the process of procreating the human species in space?"
After wiping a tear from his eye and suppressing his laughter, the astronaut replied that he had "no knowledge of those tests being done."
Smith wrapped up the interview with one more burning question: "What is the shape of this spaceship called Earth?"
It's pretty darn round from my viewpoint," Feustel said. "There's no doubt about it, we're going round and round."