Millions around the world are currently isolating themselves in quarantine as a way of social distancing to prevent the current spread of COVID-19. Many are trying to adapt to a new daily routine that’s 100% indoors including working from home, binge-watch entire series on Netflix and finding a way to exercise and keep active. But for decades, astronauts have been quarantined to ensure they are virus-free and not incubating an illness when they get to the space station.

What’s quarantine like for an astronaut?

It’s a two-week period where a pre-flight quarantine only allows controlled visits from close family are permitted, to ensure minimal risk of the astronauts bringing a virus with them to space. While in quarantine, astronauts spend their time preparing for the mission ahead and get a good rest and workout to make sure that they're in peak physical and mental condition.

Quarantine became the norm for astronauts after Apollo 7 crewmen got sick in space with colds and medication quickly ran out. Nowadays pre-flight quarantine, which is known as "health stabilization” is an essential safety precaution for every crew going on a mission to space. The procedure is especially important for astronauts because spending a prolonged amount of time living in microgravity can actually affect the immune system.

With the coronavirus pandemic going on at the moment, NASA officials are discussing lengthening the quarantine time and take additional measures to ensure no astronaut is infected before boarding upcoming flights. One thing’s for sure: the folks at NASA know that the most important thing is staying healthy and protecting the NASA family during these critical times.