Chapter 6: "Must You Go…Can’t You Stay Just a Little Bit Longer???"
Image to right: The Expedition 15 and STS-118 crewmembers assemble in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station to greet and answer questions from news media representatives on the ground. Image credit: NASA
Clayton Anderson's ISS In-Flight Journal
I miss them already…the crew of STS-118 and the beautiful ship Endeavour. It seems like only yesterday they were here; flying through the Station, moving cargo to and fro, knocking our stuff off of the walls! It was grand! I haven’t laughed so much since I left the planet some 77 days, 14 hours, 40 minutes and 54 seconds ago…but who’s counting!??? Our crews accomplished so much...we added a truss segment, flew the robotic arm, performed 4 spacewalks, transferred an outlandishly huge amount of cargo and supplies; and we did it together, all while having a wonderfully good time. We talked, we laughed, we worked, we played and we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. That is what camaraderie and “crew” is all about.
You see, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a “people person.” I thrive on having contact with others and I am not bashful about showing emotion. The joy of interaction with people, be they friends or strangers, is something that I have loved for as long as I can remember. In fact, I recall a pre-flight interview with a national publication when they asked me specifically about how a “people person like me” would do on a long duration mission, cramped up inside a small volume with only two crewmates to interact with. Well, let me tell you that I am doing perfectly fine…but I do miss my family and friends. The Shuttle Endeavour and her crew came at a perfect time for me. I was ready for them to be here and welcomed them with open arms. I truly hated to see them go. But now they are home…safe and sound with their feet firmly on the ground. For that, I am grateful.
I am often asked just what it is I miss the most up here. I am asked if I have any feelings of confinement; am I claustrophobic in any way? At this time, roughly the “half-way” point in my mission (see above reference to time!), I do not feel any sort of “feelings of confinement” and with regard to missing things, I hadn’t really thought about that much during my short time so far on orbit. However, I must admit that since my “first” Shuttle crew has been here and gone, I have begun to think more about the things that are not up here, 220 miles above the ground. First and foremost, of course, is my wonderful family. They are all doing quite well on Earth, thanks to so many of you who have provided unlimited prayers and unwavering, loving support. I joke with my kids that this is probably a record length of time for them to have not been scolded by their father! I also miss some significant physical things…things that I did not anticipate I would miss...ever! For example, sometimes as I daydream (We are allowed to do that up here!) I envision a soft breeze from Galveston Bay and the warm rays of the summer sun, or the smell of freshly cut grass amid the sound of all the neighborhood lawn mowers as they resonate in unison early on a Saturday morning. And what kind of Nebraskan would I be if I didn’t dream of the sights, sounds and tastes of a nice thick, Nebraska corn-fed, medium rare T-bone steak sizzling outside on the grill while my stomach “growls” in anticipation of a loaded baked potato on the side! Man, I gotta stop thinking like this!
No worries here, life is good onboard the International Space Station. I cherish every single minute of my time here in this fantastic place. But you all are my spirit; my “Earth-bound” crew and I miss you!