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February 21, 2014
Space to Ground - 02/21/14

VO: Houston, station on space to ground.

Josh  Byerly: Welcome to space to ground, your weekly look at what’s happening on board the ISS.I’m Josh Byerly.

Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus completed its mission this week. The cargo craft was detached from the station on Tuesday and sent into a destructive re-entry into the atmosphere on Wednesday. This brings to a close the first official cargo flight to the station by Orbital Sciences.So the United States now has two commercial companies – Orbital and SpaceX – flying up to the ISS, along with international partner vehicles.

It may not be one of the most glorious parts of living on station, but the crew did some cleaning this week.Mike Hopkins took some microbial samples from the station’s surfaces. This is done to make sure there’s nothing gross growing inside. They also change the air filters from time to time to make sure the air stays clean, because they can’t exactly open a window and let some fresh air inside.

Did you know that if you were to fly up to the space station, you’d actually get a little taller? Sounds good, but it can actually cause some lower back pain.  The crew used an ultrasound this week to take a look at their spines. The data will help flight surgeons better understand how the spine expands in space and to help prevent some of the discomfort that comes with that. 

The crew members took some time this week to talk with the media and a group of students in Los Angeles.They spoke about what they’ve been up to lately and life onboard the station.

Astronaut Mike Hopkins: We also take a lot of pictures. The cupola is actually a fantastic view of the Earth and so you want to try and capture that and share as much of that as you can.

Byerly: If you’re not following along with the crew on social media, we encourage you to do so. They’ve been sending down some pretty cool photos of our planet in recent weeks.

This week’s social media question is, “How long can one stay on board ISS?”

Crews typically stay onboard ISS for about six months, although astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are currently training for a one year mission that will kick off in march of 2015. The goal of this mission is to learn how the human body reacts to being in space that long and to use that information as we look at going to an asteroid or Mars.

And here’s some trivia for you. Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov holds the record for longest single spaceflight. He spent 438 days on board Mir, and the longest trip to the ISS was by Mike Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin. They spent 215 days up there.
Make sure to keep sending us your questions and comments using the hashtag #spacetoground. We’ll see you next week.

Page Last Updated: March 3rd, 2014
Page Editor: Jerry Wright