Nov 3, 2010

ISS: A Personal Note from Astronaut & ISS Commander Douglas Wheelock

part 7 of a series on the ISS
The ISS (International Space Station) just celebrated 10 years of uninterrupted, continuous life on board. Another commemorative event today or tomorrow is the final launch of the Shuttle Discovery. These are momentous times, my friend, and I'm going to celebrate by sharing the first of Doug's personal messages to you.
In my last post, I promised to share Doug's thoughts on the International aspect of the ISS as he took over command from Russian Cosmonaut Alexander "Sasha" Skvortsov. I had received an email from Doug that so beautifully shared the behind-the-scenes activities and emotions as the United States worked together with the Russians on board the ISS, that I knew I had to share it with you. He recently gave me the OK to publish it. So, without further adieu, here's Commander Douglas Wheelock, from the ISS:
"This spaceship has been my home now for a little more than three months, since we lit up the night sky with our launch on the Soyuz TMA rocket back in June. I haven't seen a car, plane, bus or train in those three months, but have traveled more than 40 million miles in this incredible flying machine." Below: Part of the ISS as they fly over Hurricane Igor.

"This coming week, I will assume Command of the International Space Station and realize a dream that not long ago would have been impossible for my generation. This is a pivotal moment for NASA and of course the absolute apogee of my professional journey.
"Last night, "Sasha" Skvortsov (our current ISS Commander) and I sat together in the Russian Service Module for nearly three hours talking about this event coming up Wednesday. though purely symbolic at this point, the Change of Command of a truly International Space Station from an active duty Russian Colonel to an active duty US Army Colonel is something only dreamers could have imagined for our generation.
The road to this point has been bumpy and crooked and seemingly impassable at times, but it is a road carved out and paved with the blood, sweat and tears of patriots and dreamers.
"Sasha was in tears last night as he showed me photos of his MiG flying days and remembered friends that he had lost in their own skirmishes in Afghanistan and other places that I never knew about. He is a patriot through and through and we promised each other to brand this moment into history and pass the torch to our children and grandchildren. So that all that is left are the stories, and only memories of the struggle.
"He was showing me pictures of his MiG-31 fighter days just last night. Of course, I recognized the MiG from my "Friend or Foe" flash cards that I memorized in days gone by. It wasn't long ago that I would expect to see the MiG through the crosshairs of gun sight... not while sharing memories with a close friend and dreaming of the wonders to come for our children. The dreams that we dare to dream . .
"It's all in a days work aboard the International Space Station.
"At this point, a little past the halfway point in this 6-month journey, as I take a moment to look back, I realize that it has been a physical, emotional and spiritual awakening. It doesn't take long to realize that we really don't belong out here; we're just temporary visitors in this hostile and unforgiving environment. There are so many things that I miss about the Earth. I drink coffee through a straw and squeeze food from tubes and plastic bags. And, I haven't had a shower since June 15th.
"All in all, it's a magical place and all part of living in space. Each day is graced with 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets as we orbit the Earth once every 90 minutes. Each sunrise is uniquely beautiful and each sunset stunning beyond words . . "

In my next ISS post, Doug will give us a behind-the-scenes look at the recent emergency when the ISS alarms rang and the subsequent spacewalks he had to do for unexpected repairs.
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:

Jimmy said...

This is great stuff...the same men ready to kill each other in one sense and weeping with each other in peace and understanding in another. What we all need is an "International Space Station" attitude adjustment. It would perhaps pull the entire world up out of the caved-in mine it has been in for such a long time.