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Preflight Interview: Yury Usachev
 
Yury Usachev

Commander Yury Usachev. Photo credit: NASA

Q: Yury, tell me why you wanted to become a cosmonaut.

A. Oh, when I was a young engineer I [was] working for Energia Space Company, and I saw some cosmonauts working there, and, I thought this could be good idea to try to work, to do work like them, like they did, and, I tried to pass some exams, some medical test, and there you go.

How did you come to be working at Energia in the first place - because you were interested in space flight before?

Oh, say again, I don't understand.

Why is that you were already working at Energia in the first place-how did you come to be involved?

Oh. I…twenty years ago I graduate from Moscow Aviation Institute and, I decide to work for some space company, and, I had some agreement with them, and, I worked for EVA group of people, and, some future construction people. And then, I like it-that's why I try to work more and more, and actually, I work, like, ten, oh, eight or ten years for Energia Company.

Were you interested…even as a child, you were interested in aviation?

Oh, no. When I was child I want to be pilot, like, as a lot of children want to do. And, that's why I start to work for, or study at, Moscow Aviation Institute. But it's my work; more engineering like than real pilot work, and, I think it's good way for me to be a engineer. Now I think it's the best way what I can have for this, for my life, so far.

As you look back, who are the people who you think have been or still are the most significant influences in your life?

Oh, I think, our parents influence more for us. It's, of course, our relatives and our friends and brothers, sisters…but, I think our parents are more influence to our life choice; I don't know. Well, you have been involved in your work with Energia, in this international effort that we know as the International Space Station, for a number of years now, and have flown a mission to the Mir space station that was a part of its early effort. I would be interested in your perspective on how the many nations and the space agencies and the people have improved their ability to work together.

Yes, it's interesting. If you remember, first time we start to work for Apollo-Soyuz Program, and, we had a lot of problem because that was first contact between our countries. And, unfortunately, we didn't work more for space program because we had "cold" world war. And then Russian way was like, international space flight with a socialistic country, and, it was, I felt it's like a socialistic country, then we involved some European country like France and Austria and Japanese cosmonauts, and now it's like new, new orbit, new answer in International Space Station. And, it's like lesson by lesson, we try to get interested in each other better and maybe know more about each other. And I think it help us to work better together for this International Space Station program.

Can you give me an example of how you have seen the result is that we work better together?

Oh…I have some. My experience, you know, we flew with Shannon Lucid-Yuri Onufrienko, Shannon Lucid, and I flew for 21[st] mission [to] Mir station, and it's clear for me how we grew up, for our relationship between country because it was difficult for me to imagine how it will work because it was first flight for Yuri and Shannon didn't have enough experience for long-duration flight, and it's absolutely, or anything with opposite, like space tradition, that's a different culture. I [was] afraid a little bit how it could be. But, see now, we have some experience, and I think it's very good experience and just show us if people have some symbol, some opinion, some wish to work together they can do that. If you don't work together, you cannot at all, but if you want it, you can do it easier.

You and Jim Voss and Susan Helms got a sneak peek at the International Space Station when you were assigned to the crew of STS-101, early in the year 2000. Tell me, what are your impressions of the station, and tell me whether or not the experience of having been there has helped the three of you after you've come back and continued to train together.

Yes. I understand people who [have] this agreement to send us up to station for [the] STS-101 mission, and, of course, it was difficult decision because you know, we were assigned for this mission just two, three-and-a-half months before flight. It was difficult. It meant that we can do that just for this short training time. But, now, after flight, I can tell that it's very good experience and it was a right decision to send us to space station for STS-101 mission. And, to me, of course, because it was my [first] shuttle flight and now, you know, we'll start for our increment mission with a shuttle flight, and now I know more about shuttle flight and I can imagine what I will do for this flight and what kind of training I need for this. And, I think it's very good experience for me and for Jim and Susan, as well, because now, to me it's not, more experience than I already had, because the FGB and…actually it's the same model what we had for Mir station. But for Jim and Susan I think it's very good experience and, they work a lot for this mission, to change batteries, some electronic equipment in FGB, and now, I'm sure every time they will come to FGB, they will remember this flight and emotionally, it was very good because, you know, we did this work very good and we complete [all] of our tasks, and psychologically it's very good because, you know, they will comfort more of this flight, and it's very good experience for them to work with Russian equipment. It doesn't matter, it will be the Service Module and somewhere else; it's actually the same what we did for STS-101 mission. That's why I think it's very good experience for all of us to have this flight.

Well, you will be riding back to the station on STS-102, and the day the shuttle docks to the station one of the first orders of business is the exchange of crewmembers; you will be the first to move on to the station in exchange for Yuri Gidzenko. Tell me, first of all, why that pair of you is scheduled to exchange instead of Commander for Commander, and second, tell me what must happen for the exchange to be completed.

My understanding of it is, because…STS-102, they will have two or three EVAs, that's why hatch has to be closed between station and shuttle. And always plan was we had to change crewmember between this to part of station and, at least in this case, we don't have enough time for handover, and for station like this and, we had some experience for Mir station. [It] takes a lot of time to speak with [the] old crew. They know much better than we do, I mean, station, and it takes a lot of time to hand over between crewmembers. And I think for every flight we can change our old for, change crewmember, but, for this flight, I think it's a good idea. You know, Yuri Gidzenko, he's Soyuz pilot, and in this case, I hope it's never happen but I assign for Soyuz pilot, as well; that's why we will change. And, it's a good place for handover with Sergei, like, board engineer and Shep as Commander. And, I think we will spend like four hours each day for handover.

Talk about that period of time. Give me a sense of what sorts of conversations you need to have with Shep and with Sergei while he's still there, in order to get yourself best prepared to command that station.

You know, like we have official, for example, comm configuration or computer configuration, but there are a lot of details nobody knows; just crew knows - how it works, how it's supposed to be connectors, where some can be put on or like this. And, for inventory management system, it's very important to know exactly where equipment [is stored] and how it works, if it works, why it doesn't work if it doesn't work. It's…it's different to explain but there are a lot of details that just [the] crew knows about that. And it's not just like technician handover-it's more environment handover as well because a lot of people on the ground communicate to [the] crew, and I would like know every, or more of this connection, to understand how it works because, as I said, old crew can know better than anybody else about that.

During the day, the time of the docked operations, there is also, for the first time, going to be what's called a logistics module named Leonardo that will be attached to the station's Unity module-that is similar, I think, to a Progress ship in that it is a way to bring new supplies to the station. Talk about…the theory behind the use of these MPLMs and how you, as a station crewmember, will work inside the station to move cargo back and forth.

First of all, we have some plan for transfer from MPLM to station, and we will follow this plan because a lot of people try to schedule this work. If we change something, we communicate with ground, just [to] make sure they understand why certain storage, if it's for some reason couldn't be done. And I think it's easier to work with MPLM than it is Progress because it's bigger and sometimes it was very difficult to work with Progress and, because it was difficult to open the hatch-there were a lot of cargoes and it took a lot of time to load it, to take cargo out. I think Jim and Susan and I have enough experience to work; it's not so complicated to work with MPLM.

What kinds of cargo is this module capable of bringing to the station?

Main task, I think, main purpose for this module [is to] bring up racks for Lab module for some future modules-its main task from my point of view. That's why it has a big hatch and, much bigger than Progress; maybe Progress could be inside this MPLM!

The shuttle Discovery is scheduled to be docked to the station for about a week during this mission, STS-102, at the conclusion of which you will be the Commander of the station with your crewmates, Jim Voss and Susan Helms, as Jim Wetherbee prepares to bring the Expedition One crew back to Earth. Have you planned any special farewell ceremonies or something to mark the change in command from Bill Shepherd?

Oh, yes; I think the first part will be done when Yuri will change his place with me and then…we didn't discuss with Shep about that. I think, they have enough time to imagine how it could be on board station, and the closer they're [to] this flight, they will more think about that. And, I think I will just, oh, follow this roles because Shep is International Space Station Commander now. You know, we have some ballots in the Node and some ship's, like notebook where we sign some…a log…and unfortunately, I don't know enough about this tradition because I'm not military, Navy, but, we'll try to follow this tradition. I think it's a good tradition, to imagine International Space Station as a big ship, an international spaceship.

Once the hatches between these two are closed and it comes time to separate the two vehicles, you will be left to begin your increment. First, talk about what it is that you and Jim and Susan will do as Discovery undocks and flies around your station.

Oh…I think we have to, first of all, we have to follow our procedures and we have some activities during shuttle flight around, like activation, guidance and navigation system and electrical power system. And, if shuttle flight needs any communication or any help we will try to do that. And, then, I think it could be a most difficult part, first two or three weeks; we'll work, just the three of us, because we have to build our environment, our communication, our relationship between each other because it's a little bit different- ground, communication, relationship, I mean, among crewmembers and ground, and we will try to build our…communication…and, maybe it will be the most difficult part of our flight.

Tell me about how you imagine regular life on the space station will be like. What do you envision your crewmates, you and your crewmates, doing day-to-day, week-to-week-is there a regular routine that develops?

Yes, maybe it's more routine than ground people imagine, but, we have [a] very tight schedule of our flight. Now, you know, we'll have four shuttle, include our shuttle, up and down, and two shuttle, 6A and 7A, in just four-and-a-half month's flight. And we have a Russian taxi cargo and Progress and Docking Compartment at the end of our flight, and so we have a very tight schedule. And, I hope we won't have enough free time to think that our life's too bad or like this-I think, it's a very good flight, [I'm] looking forward to doing that.

Can you give me a sense of what you would anticipate a regular day to be like? I realize that you are by no means going to be in a regular place, but what would a regular day on the space station be like?

It's very similar [to] what we have on the Earth. It's wake up, it's toilet, teeth brush, shaving, then a short briefing with ground, just [to] make sure with them, each other, good enough for this daily plan, and if something changes, we would like to know about that. And then three or four hours working for some equipment…it's a long story, we can speak a lot about that…then, twice a day we will have exercise on treadmill and the bicycle…we have [a] meal three times per day, and at the end of day we will discuss about result, this day's result and what's [planned] for tomorrow and…maybe just after that we will have enough time to look [out] the window or to speak among crewmembers, to spend much time more into things than just make routine.

It sounds as if it might even be a more relaxed pace, certainly than a space shuttle mission, but perhaps even a bit more relaxed than some other busy job on Earth.

Yes; it [depends] on a lot of things. Sometimes we have free days for different reasons. Sometimes it's a full day like twenty-six or forty hours-I have some experience of that. When we had STS-76 mission for 21 Mir mission, we began to work so early for docking and for transfer-it was [a] long day, much longer than usual day, like we live two days for one day; it was a very good example. Sometimes it happen for some Progress docking or Soyuz, change docking port…but anyway it's good-it's exactly what we would like to have on orbit; not just relax, [it's] real work. That's why a lot of people want to work on orbit because it's [a] very good place for realizing their potential effort, I don't know, condition.

The station itself-the International Space Station which you three will take over from the Expedition One crew-will have much greater capabilities than the station that they arrived at in the summer. Can you talk about how the presence of the U.S. Lab module Destiny is going to expand and change the command and the control capabilities of the station, and the communication with Houston and Korolev.

Yes. I don't want to speak about lot of technician details, but, first of all we will have more volume, more space, for our mission, and maybe Susan will live in the Lab because it's more place and somebody has to control all system or environment inside Lab. And, another point of view, after second Progress we will have a Russian camera, a Betacam, and, you know, its crew is [now] flying, but we still don't have enough picture, the good picture, because they don't have a Beta camera and, I think it's not fair first crew doesn't have good view because it's worth it to have much better picture than we have now. And, I hope we will have a Beta camera, and we will try to show people on the ground, as well as good, this place is and Lab and Russian segment and FGB and Service Module, and they will have more, you will have more information about real station condition, space, etc.

As I understand it, as time goes on, the capabilities will improve so that you will have very few restrictions on your ability to communicate with the ground just by sound as well as by picture.

Yes. But you know sometimes it doesn't help to have more communication with ground because you have a lot of people in the Mission Control Center in Korolev and Houston, and everybody want to help us and sometimes it doesn't help because they want to help a lot, and from my experience of that, for Mir station, for example, it was better time where we didn't have comm with ground. We have enough experience, if we have exact plan what we have to do, it's not necessary to have more communication; we just, if we have any question we can ask it but for real flight, if it's clear, it's not necessary to speak. I think we, that's what I mean-we have to build our communication with ground, just make sure that it's enough for them and for us and for communication.

ISS02-E-5492 -- Yury Usachev

Expedition 2 Commander Yury Usachev looks through the window on the Destiny laboratory aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

The U.S. Lab module, Destiny, as you said, will be there and will add a lot of volume for you to live in, but your crew is also going to begin scientific work in that module. Can you give me an overview of the science that will be performed in this facility?

Just two, oh, two-and-a-half weeks ago, we had a sim for HRF rack, Human Research rack, activity and we tried to communicate with Alabama and Houston and Mission Control Center. And, actually it was part of this science task we already had for Mir program, and, some of them it's familiar for us. I mean, it's not something that's absolutely unusual; what we are going to do for this, like first-step Lab, we just try to work out, like, try to receive new information and I don't expect we will have some absolute unusual experience for this, our flight. Most of [the] time, what we have to do is just follow procedure and follow scheduled experiments, what our scientists on the ground schedule for us. You know, we don't have enough time to analyze [the] results; all we have to do [is] just to activate some equipment and turn it off and just follow some experiments to make sure that it works properly.

I think, you've made reference to the fact that, in communicating with the ground to talk about the science experiments, in large measure there you won't talk to Houston or to Korolev, but you'll talk to payload controllers at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Can you tell us about how the people there are going to be contributing to the science operation?

Oh, unfortunately I don't have enough experience; it was just a short time we spoke to each other shortly during this sim.

I mean more in a general sense and not just with the Human Research Facility, but, how will you and your crewmates be working with the people at the payload center in Alabama?

Yes. You know, we have ability to work directly [with] scientists, that's why it's very good; we won't have, like, additional part of or amount, between crew and scientists-we can speak directly if we have to change something or, I don't know, to check something, we will speak directly [to] have [an] immediate answer. I mean, it's very good. You know, sometimes it's difficult for people which don't understand exactly what's going on for this experiments to translate or to communicate, with crewmembers; it's [a] good idea to speak directly for scientists. I hope we won't have any problem with this communications.

Along with the work, the science work, that you all will do inside Destiny, at this point there is on the schedule the first space walk of the mission, one that I believe is intended to take place inside the Zvezda module to move a docking cone. Can you tell us what is involved there, and who's going to be conducting this internal space walk?

First of all, why we're going to do that-you know, we have just one cone for docking any cargo vehicle or Soyuz, and after FGB and Service Module docking, we don't need any more of this docking cone in this place, and, so far we want, we'll have another cargo vehicle like Docking Compartment, we would like to prepare a place for docking it. So that's why we have to change this cone to another place. And, it's going to be difficult…it will be difficult to do because it's a small place-I mean…Russian reserve docking compartment-and all that we do is just change this cone, but two crewmembers and the spacesuit in this small place. It's difficult, but we had twice this, sim, in the Russian neutral buoyancy laboratory, and our specialists decide we are ready for this space walk.

And, to make sure I understand, this is to occur inside the spherical…

Yes.

…portion…

It is two-meter sphere, and we have to just have place back-to-back to each other and try to help to move this cone from one place to another one.

And, in this case, it's you and Jim?

Yes. Now, with this crew, it's Jim and I who'll do that.

The two of you back-to-back in just a two-meter area? It'll be very cramped.

Yes, it was difficult, at least in the Russian NBL, but I'm sure for real-world flight it's much easier to do.

Before you, at this point, will see another shuttle crew, you're due to receive supplies on a Progress ship, and you talked a bit about, referred to the Progresses before. Can you give us a sense of what it takes, throughout, for you and your crewmates to manage a Progress: how do you get things out, how do you prepare one to leave, how do you keep track of what's in and what's out and what belongs in the right place?

Oh, you know, a lot of people on the ground [have been] thinking about that, and they already scheduled a place where cargo [is] supposed to be and you know we have inventory management system and we have hard copies book where we have all cargo where it's placed and where it's supposed to be, and they scheduled day-by-day what we have to do, beginning from hatch open and undocking Progress. It's more mechanical work than, I don't know, mental, mentality work; all we will have to do [is] just work with some construction and attach some equipment and transfer it to another place and to make sure that it's in proper place, and we have some notice of the inventory management system make sure that people on the ground know exactly where it is.

Is it difficult to not have a lot of clutter involved? You've got a lot of supplies coming out, you have supplies you want to get rid of that are going in-does it make a mess?

Oh, sometimes it's very difficult. For example, you know, I talk a lot about the Mir experience because I have some experience and actually, it will be the same equipment port we will have for International Space Station. And sometimes before Progress docked, we had a lot of equipment-like old equipment that doesn't work, equipment inside station-and we try to put it together to organize it, and just after Progress docking and we load some equipment, old, first, what we didn't just put old equipment inside and just tried to…to clear station from old equipment. And what's most difficult part, it's to never have mistakes, for this changing because sometimes we couldn't because there [is] a lot of equipment, and it's more important to organize this, to place, like, new equipment, old equipment, and what's scheduled for transfer from Progress or to Progress and where…that's why we have to prepare place before Progress docking, for every delivered equipment in station. It's a lot of work.

The second of the four shuttle visits that are a part of your increment comes up a short time after that and it brings the space station's robot arm. Before we talk about how it gets attached, talk about the hardware itself: what is it that, tell me about this new component of the station and how it's going to be used in the future.

First of all, I would like to speak about people who built it and who teach us about that; I think it's more important than just metals and just hardware. First time we were at Canada's Montreal, Canada Space Agency, maybe two, two-and-a-half years ago, and everybody in facility - it's very good place, they have very good specialists. It's young enough and they already have a lot of experience for, not just for this hardware, for teaching-they have very good scheduling, they have very good CBT, computer-based training, and I think they have very good base for training. And, it's not just my opinion, it's a…crewmembers have told me about that, they were surprised, as good Canadian Space Agency organized our training, because we had just three or four days for training and they did very good. Yes, people like this cannot do bad hardware, and it's understandable because just one part of station-Canada can do more than just this arm, but they prepare very good, hardware and robotic workstation inside lab…actually, we will have two…and, arm itself. First task, for this hardware [is to] try to reduce a real EVA for people outside, you know, because it's dangerous enough, and it [takes] a lot of money for spacesuit resource and a lot of people work for this task, and I'm sure it will reduce [that], but we will see. It has to help us to work outside. Maybe not for our mission, but for future we will have this opportunity to move [the] arm along the form and truss and from my point of view what's most important for arm use [is] if we had some unexpected task or, I don't know, some extremely dangerous situation, and we can use [the] arm and, it is good, it's universal enough for equipment and we can do very precise work with this arm. And I think it [will] show us good hardware for future [flights].

People who have watched the American space shuttle program are familiar with the Canadian-built robotic arm that flies on the shuttle; the Canadian Space Agency has developed this arm, but it's not the same thing. Can you talk about the improvements, the extra capabilities, in this space station arm?

It's like a new car/old car-it's like new generation. You know, shuttle arm attached just one hand for the shuttle and another one can work, but, for ISS arm it's possible to change place, and, you see, it can go work around station, just attach one hand and [detach] another one and change place. It's much wider ability for arm. And, of course, it's more precise. It's not just mechanical contact with equipment; it's power/data-how it's named-it's power/data contact. We can send some data to the ground and receive ground data for the shuttle and you know, for future [they] want to use small arm-like a big arm attached to a small one-and work for some precise task. I think arm has itself a [bright] future.

Following the shuttle's departure on this mission, you and your crewmates are scheduled for a lot of work checking out this new piece of equipment and making sure that this new arm works. Can you talk about the kinds of things that you're going to do, and also the setup, the workstation inside, where you or Jim or Susan will operate the arm?

Oh, actually Susan and Jim will do that. And I have some training, some experience, but not too much as Jim and Susan have because, you know, Susan [worked] in real flight with shuttle arm. And I'm not going to work just myself this arm. What I have to do, from my point of view, is I have to organize good enough this work for my crewmembers and what they are going to do and what we will do with [the] arm. First of all, we have to check robotic workstation, how it works and how its real work and how [the] arm itself will work and for a first arm use we have to check a lot, that's why we have special plan from Canadian Space Agency, what kind of movement we will have, what kind of motion and what you have to do. They want to receive as much as possible information from arm, but it won't be real work. It's more like tester work [the] first time; it's worth it. They want [to] make sure that [the] arm's ready for working, for the real work in space.

At about this same time, in this same stage of your crew, a new Soyuz spacecraft is due to arrive at the ISS. Can you tell us about why it is necessary that another Soyuz ship come up there, and what is involved in docking it to the station?

As you know, Soyuz has just two, about two-hundred days resource and for other reason, that's why they would like to change…old Soyuz for another one. You know, first Soyuz docked for station to bring first crew, and May or April, I'm not sure, this two-hundred days resource will finish; that's why ground would like [to] make sure then we have good enough rescue vehicle for some dangerous, for some dangerous space station just undocked and descent of…I hope it's never happen but just in case. That's why it's not possible to have more than two-hundred days Soyuz on orbit, and in May we will have new one; somebody has to dock this Progress, that's why we'll have ten or eight days docked with taxi crews…as I say, we have to change some equipment like seat liner and make sure that everybody during this flight, after this change, [understands] where their place [is] supposed to be for some undocking situation. It's small, lot of routine task what we have to do, and then we have some time for experiments; I think they will [be] ready enough to do these experiments. All we have to do just to help them organize these experiments, to get power if it needs, and to prepare place for these experiments if it needs…that's what I see.

The next space shuttle visit during your time on the station involves the delivery of another piece of hardware to the station-its own airlock. Can you talk about what capabilities the addition of this airlock will add to ISS?

First of all, this airlock will be used for both [spacesuits], in Russian Orlan suit and EMU, American suit. And, it's like universal docking EVA compartment for both sides, Russian and American. And, it's bigger than just Russian or Docking Compartment; that's why we will have a lot of place, a lot of volume for equipment, EVA, for instrument, tools and stuff like this. It's very interesting to work with new equipment to arrive; we have to install some and to make sure that it's [working] properly and to prepare for EVA, and then I hope you'll have EVA and make sure that it's work as it's supposed to work. It's very good. It's like, oh, I would like to compare with like, new car-if you bought new one you would like to test to try to understand how it's work.

The station's new robot arm will get a workout during the space walks that are needed to install this airlock. Can you talk about the sequence of events, what goes on in order to install and complete the installation, rather, of this new airlock?

First of all we, [the] shuttle crew, has to connect this, attach this, or move this, airlock from shuttle cargo bay to the station, just mechanically. Then, during EVA they have to connect, shuttle people have to connect, some connectors, like, power connectors and oxygen connectors, then they will bring oxygen and nitrogen tank and put it on the Airlock and then they connect to this outside, just to prepare for next EVA for station.

After that shuttle mission, after they head home, you will have about a month left in your increment. During that time, you are scheduled to see the arrival of a component that you mentioned earlier, the Docking Compartment Module. Can you tell us about this Russian module, what its function is, and what you and your crew are going to be doing to facilitate, to help it dock to the station?

Yes. First of all, as I said, we have to change this cone for docking, and this Docking Compartment, Russian equipment, has two main tasks. First of all, it's like [a] redundant EVA compartment, and another task it's [a] compartment for docking. This Docking Compartment has one more docking port, and Progress or Soyuz spacecraft can dock to the station. We will have just one more docking port for station; it's just more ability, more flexibility for station.

ISS002-E-5079 -- Yury Usachev

Expedition 2 Commander Yury Usachev floats into the Zvezda service module equipped with cameras. Photo credit: NASA

And after it docks to that portion of the Service Module, there are more space walks involved with setting it up, right?

Yes. And it's exactly what we did our last session in Russia. We had four EVAs run, both Jim and I and Susan, and I work for this task. Some of them is just connecting some cables outside between Service Module and Docking Compartment, and installation, like crew system, communication system, and radio control system during docking, and some targets and-what else?-antennas and targets…make sure everything [is] ready for real docking next Soyuz or Progress cargo, to Docking Compartment.

After some weeks' worth of the science work and the variety of visits, a fourth shuttle will arrive and it will carry the crew that will replace the three of you. By the time it's come time for you all to go home, in your mind what are the critical tasks that you think need to have been done to make the station ready for the Expedition Three crew that would let you consider that your mission is a success?

Oh, you know, we have a lot of changes, and nobody knows what's really happen. But main task, I mean my crewmembers, and my task as Commander, make sure that we have station in very good condition and everything working properly and, it's just supposed to improve; I mean station we have more, as you said, capability, ability, and before this handover time and docking time we have to prepare, or try to help organize this time for shuttle mission and for new crew arriving to station. And, one more task for me as a Commander is make sure that my crewmembers in good condition and that's what I'm going to do during this whole mission, and [they're safe, they're] healthy, and they are ready for rehabilitation to Earth.

At the point that you and Jim and Susan are on board the station with the delivery of the Airlock-the 7A mission that we referred to a moment ago-you will be there for the transition of the station from the Phase 2 into Phase 3, where it is ready to begin the science research of the program. Talk to me, finally, then, about the science that is going to be done on this station. Do you see, tell me about how you see it contributing to life here on Earth and to our preparations to do exploration in space in the future?

Oh, it's [a] difficult question. You know, it's not possible to have something absolutely and unusual during just one mission or just like this immediately; it takes a lot of time to get new information, new experience, and we have to just be patient and try to use more, as much as possible this equipment, and try to get, as much as possible, information from this equipment. And you know, it's more routine than just everyday and usual, I know, even like this. It's not just, Lab will help us to know more; it's just part of this big program. Maybe it's more important what every crew will bring to the Earth, what kind of experience they all will have. Now, we heard that Shep already has a lot of experience from just one month's flight, and after four or five months we'll have much more experiences. It's not people experience; it's much more interesting, more important, than just science experience. If we are going to fly in, somewhere else, then we have longer, much longer-duration flight. We have to…more, let's say, it's not just like medical experiments, or some body experiments, more like psychological experience, and the ability, a person's ability to work together because, you know, if we won't have agreement among crewmembers or among our countries, nothing will help us-it's not possible to…this equipment itself doesn't help us if we cannot work together, communicate together. So, for my point of view, it's more important just human communication or psychological support like this than just metal or hardware itself.