Scene from Aquarius HabitatRecreation is an important consideration for maintaining high morale, psychological and physiological health in an underwater habitat, especially for long durations. This section provides guidelines for recreational activities.

General Considerations

Recreation activities must be supported in a habitat. Recreation activities must not interfere with critical translation paths and in-use workstations. The type and size of recreation facilities will depend on the number of crewmembers, mission duration, and overall recreation preferences of the crew. During short-duration missions, there may be little time for recreation; however, during long- duration missions, additional recreation should be considered. The ISS crewmembers have emphasized the importance of providing adequate time and provisions for recreation, both as a crew and individually. When possible, scheduled crew tasks should not interfere with personal time designated for rest and recreation activities.

Recreation materials such as books, music, movies, sport tools and musical instruments can provide a sense of normality and a break from mission tasks. As mission duration increases, so does the importance of providing leisure activities for off-duty hours. Activities and materials will also depend on preferences of the individual crewmembers, as well as crew interaction. Joint recreation activities, such as games, may become more important on longer- duration missions.

Recreation materials can be split into two categories:

  • Data-based entertainment like music, ebooks, movies and PC games do not require storage space since they are easily saved on digital memory drives. Devices like e-books or earphones are easily stored and movies and PC games can watched/played at private laptops as well as on-board terminals currently not in use or especially installed for those purposes. Data-based entertainment will be saved on the onboard servers and will be available to all aquanauts.
  • Material-based entertainment like exercise bikes, treadmills or pull-up bars need space for their storage and usage. Their noise could interfere with other activities and location should be selected carefully. These tools should be of high quality to reduce repair time and/or replacement. They also should be subject of minor sponsoring.

Consider the following when designing for recreation in an underwater habitat:

Storage – Storage should be available for games, sport equipment, audio-visual materials, and other recreational items.

Size – There should be a recreation volume large enough for all crewmembers to take part in an activity at the same time.

Location – Recreation activities must be located in an area that will not interfere with critical functions, such as emergency installations.

Selection of Recreation

The following leisure activities of crewmembers should be considered:

Communication; Internet surfing

For communicating with friends and relatives on land there should be a possibility to connect private PCs to the onboard network and thus to the internet. Due to internet safety the communication software should be selected carefully and other software than recommended restricted accordingly, in order not to put the vital onboard controlling system under risk of cyber attacks. Alternatively a separate internet connection, that is detached from the habitat systems, could be considered for these purposes. Each aquanaut should be provided with a personal tablet PC, that remains onboard all the time.

For periods with interrupted internet connections there will be offline editions of Wikipedia in several languages stored on the onboard servers. They will serve as reading sources on subjects of private interest. Usage of these data packages do not need certain permissions.

Underwater observation via onboard windows

Please refer to the section windows for details about number of windows, their distribution and functions

Music, movies, PC games

The aquanauts will be able to bring their own devices like tablets or harddiscs with their own library of music/movies/games with them. Alternatively there should be a music/movie/games collection on the onboard server, though it is necessary to obtain permission, possibly in the frame of a minor sponsoring contract.


For writing there should be enough table space available that can be used for writing via PC or paper.


Treadmills are naturally more important in an 0g environment like the ISS and probably less important in an underwater habitat. An exercise bicycle might be a better alternative to train. To reduce the risk for hypodynamia of the eyes, it seems like a practical solution to combine an exercise bicycle with a VR set, that simulates an actual bicycle tour.

Cinema events

Watching movies in a group is an important tool to socialize. From the beginning there should be a appropriate location considered, that can eventually be used for this purpose, with a larger screen and enough space to sit. Movies can be provided by the aquanauts themselves or be part of the onboard server, but copyrighted works will require corresponding permissions.

Virtual Reality

There should be a practical evaluation of VR devices. They might have  a positive effect on visual sight (see chapter Hypodynamia of the eyes) and general psychology (relaxation, escapism). The devices do not require large spaces to be stowed and can be easily replaced. The purchase of VR sets can be subject of minor sponsoring.


This article contains adaptations from the NASA Human Integration Handbook (HIDH), NASA/SP-2010-3407.

We started to collect all kinds of ebooks already. If you would like to add any ebook in any language (only epub files) feel free to send them to us, but please be sure, that it is published under pubic domain.

Entry image: from NASA –, public domain,

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