Oct 12, 2010

ISS: No Vacancy

Part 5 in a series on the ISS
Once again, the International Space Station is running at full capacity. All 6 Expedition 25 crew members are reunited and ready to rock some science. Pictured below: Back row in red- Commaner Douglas Wheelcok, Shannon Walker, and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin. These three have been up there for a few months and will return in 7 more weeks. Front row, new comers: NASA's Scott Kelly, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri. This photo is from an interview they did on the NASA Channel soon after docking on the ISS Sat. Oct. 9, 2010. Notice: the old timers in the back are all casual, comfy, and having fun. The newcomers in the front are hanging on for dear life and look a little uneasy.
The three newest arrivals from Expedition 25 are shown below as they approached the Soyuz Russian Spacecraft for launch. As NASA prepares to retire the shuttle service to the ISS, we have been hitching rides up with our international counterparts - Russia in this case. The Russians, Japanese and Europeans have stepped up to the plate and are working together with the U.S. as we retire the shuttle. Also, NASA is working with commercial partners to bring commercial cargo to the ISS in the not-too-distant future and you know what I think that means? Commercial trips for civilians can't be too far away! But anyway, I digress, what I was getting at is this photo of the three heading to blast-off -- don't they look rather ole timey?
And what the heck is in those boxes? They were heading to the Soyuz to sit in a seat fitted specifically for each one of them, to sit there for 2 days chasing the orbiting ISS before finally catching it over the South Pacific. 2 days! (Yet the return trip only take 3 1/2 hours) So... if it was you... what would you have in your silver box? Pretty sure mine would be full of snacks, a picture of Eva, a mod podged moleskine and my tricked out pencil box. Yours?
So they launched and chased for a couple days, firing engines periodically to improve their aim at the ISS. Meanwhile, on the ISS, the crew stayed up past their bedtimes to watch the launch. By the way, don't you love the velcro straps on their pants - adhesive to keep things from floating away. Also noteworthy: previously they wore blue shirts with the khakis until social media began mocking that they looked like Best Buy employees. Now? Yeah, Target employees with no shoes. I guess in micro-gravity you simply have no use for shoes.
After 49 hours of hide and seek, the Soyuz zeroed in on the ISS and docked around 10 pm October 9. The passengers went through a lengthy process to transfer vehicles and here you see Scott Kelly emerge from the hatch into the waiting arms of Shannon Walker aboard the ISS, just like the birthing process here on earth - did she call out "It's a..... Man!" I wonder.
The crew gathered for a brief conversation with both NASA and Russian headquarters. Koleri has been to the ISS 6 years ago and commented "I feel like I am back home!" He agreed that there were a lot of new things, but still. Oleg, on his first visit, looked around & said "I think that there is a lot of room if I compare it to the Soyuz." Now that's seeing the glass half-full! Maybe that's why the engineers have them chase the ISS for two days -- get them used to the small quarters of the Soyuz so the ISS will feel like a Hilton.
As they conducted the interview on the NASA Channel, I noticed how the three ISS crew who have been up there awhile could hold fairly still while the three new guys were floating and bouncing around, a little unsteady in their new micro-gravity home. Then Scott Kelly's twin, Mark Kelly, also a NASA Astronaut, got on the phone and said, "Hey Mark, this is Scott. 6 months is a long time in a space shuttle. Thanks for switching places with me!" A little astronaut humor. The interview soon ended and the crew floated off so Doug could give them a Safety Briefing.
Doug's Bio
Beautiful Pictures from space on Doug's Twitter
My first ISS post.
My second ISS post: Change of Command
My third ISS post. To Infinity & Beyond: A Young Boy's Dream?
My fourth ISS post. ISS: Home Away From Home
My fifth ISS post. One Big Science Lab
My 2nd fifth ISS post. No Vacancy
My sixth ISS post. In Which Doug has a Screw Loose, I mean a Loose Screw
My seventh ISS post. Personal note from Doug about working with the Russians
My eighth ISS post. Doug talks about the emergency on the ISS
My ninth ISS post. Everyday Life on the ISS
My tenth ISS post. Heading Home

1 comment:

Ruth said...

I have the same queasy/uneasy look on my face when I ride in the car!

The box? I'd have kleenex [and that makes me wonder how doesthe nose run when you have no gravity?], compazine, and motion sickness pills. Lots of them.