Life on the ISS:
Sunita Williams' Mission Log
• We've had a lot to celebrate up here this week. Some pretty neat happenings on the good ship Alpha. First of all, last Sunday was a fun day as it marked my 100th day in space and 6 months for Misha and LA. So of course we had a good dinner. We had one of LA's Spanish delicacies, a mixture of deer, pheasant, fava beans and a mild beef type gravy. It was a great Sunday meal.
• To mark this occasion in a more official manner, everyone in the control room at Houston Mission Control had a flat Gorby [Suni's dog] on their console. I really appreciate that support - folks know I miss him a lot, but thank God they weren't real Jack Russell Terriers. I don't think I can handle more than one.
• In addition to our dinner, we had a party for all the folks in Houston who have supported us these last 100 (Suni)+200 (LA)+200 (Misha) days on Friday. That was really fun for us believe it or not. There is a group of folks who work for NASA to help make sure we are happy onboard up here - they are called physiological support. One of the cool things that they can do is set up communication between us folks in Houston through Mission Control and a phone line. They did this at a local hang-out. There was a microphone and speaker set up so that folks could come by and chat with us. At the same time we could pretty much hear everyone down there talking. We miss all of you in Houston!
• Misha became a grandfather on Saturday the 24th. He was glowing and everyone in Moscow is doing well.
It is funny how life goes on down there and up here. In the midst of changing out a LAN system, doing science experiments, packing and planning for the Soyuz fly-around, the next Soyuz crew, the next Shuttle flight, etc., it is nice to have a chance to thank friends and family. You guys really are what is important.
Cool places we have flown over this week:
• Southern Canada - some very old craters there
• Eastern U.S. - got cold, got warm, got cold...
• New Zealand - There are some good glaciers here!
• Tofu week for me. I have been enjoying hot and sour soup a couple times this week. The recipe as it is, is very good. No need to add anything to it. I am surprised that it is a little spicy coming right out of the package. Very tasty!
• Likewise, another nice surprise was the tofu with hot mustard sauce. Again, spicy and full of taste. It even has ginger and bamboo shoots along with the spicy sauce. Very good with some rice and green beans with mushrooms on the side.
• One newfound love - okay, like - is Russian gruel with milk. That is what it is called on the package, actually "kasha" which someone translated to "gruel." It is really good though. It is a softened barley type of substance with a slightly sweet milk sauce. It reminds me of rice pudding, but a little more liquid consistency. I was thinking that some cinnamon or nutmeg would be great on it, but not sure how we could put it on - sprinkling just wouldn't work. We need to figure out a way to get some powdery spice into a form that would work up here...
• 40 minutes biking, 1 mile walking
• 5.6 miles running
• 30 minutes biking, 2 miles run/walk
• 5.8 miles running
• 40 minutes biking
• 45 minutes biking, 2 miles walk/run
• 15.25 miles running - not bad, but not good either. That harness is really sort of painful and makes me run a little weird. I constantly need to adjust it to prevent the tingling feet and funny feeling in my hips. However, I got through 15 miles without much problem and even after walking 5 minutes in the beginning to warm up, averaged 10 minute miles
• Boston is less than a month.
Resistive Exercise – every day except long run day. My legs need a break.
Things we did:
• ISL (integrated systems LAN). I mentioned that we started this activity last week in the Node. This week we continued laying cable and making connections in the airlock and in the lab. Some of the work areas were pretty challenging because this is sort of a retro fit. There is lots of stuff in the way to get to some of the connections. But I have long skinny arms and an unusually small head which allows me to get into some pretty tight places, thankfully.
• ALTEA for both LA and me. More incriminating pin head pictures. I saw a flash, hopefully my brain was working...
• TRAC for all three of us. I think my reaction time has steadied out. We were wondering why one of the hand controllers also included a wrist restraint. The thought was that one's arm was going to float away - yes, lots of things float away - but it seems like your arm won't float away uncontrollably. These are the types of things that are not quite understood until the question is asked. After adjusting to living up here, we don't really need the wrist restraint.
• Last nutrition experiment for LA. We store the blood and urine samples in the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Lab Freezer ISS) until they will be returned on the next Shuttle.
Unfortunately we don't know the results of our nutrition until after we land because of the infrequency of returning the samples.
• Progress packing. Again, getting ready for the future, by packing our trash compartment. Every little piece of trash we are trying to get stuffed in the Progress. Funny how the ISS gets a little cluttered - we are sort of pack rats, but it is time for some spring cleaning.
• SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) - We did another round of experiments for the folks at MIT, the US Air Force and NASA. We graduated to 3 satellites this week. Video from these runs should be on the NASA channel. Again very cool experiment!
Image to right: The Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) experiment in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
• HAM radio pass with the East Aurora Middle School in East Aurora, New York
• HAM radio pass with Juvenile Space Club in Tatsuno, Tatsunomachi, Japan
This is the narration of my tour of the ISS. Thought you might like knowing the names of the modules. As a matter of fact, after worldwide school kids contest, the next module, Node 2, was just named - it will be called Harmony. It will be added to the front of the lab later this year.
Hi, I’m Suni Williams, part of the Expedition 14 crew living and working on the International Space Station.
First of all, I would like to say thank-you to India Abroad for inviting me to join in your celebration this evening.
It is quite an honor to be part of this community of Indian-Americans, and even more overwhelming to be considered a representative of the things you stand for:
• And the freedom to dream
I feel extremely honored and privileged to be living on the International Space Station, a spacecraft which epitomizes these ideals, which we hold so close as Indians, Americans and humans.
So, I think it would be most fitting that I take you on a little tour of our “house” so you can see first-hand what human cooperation can do…
Here we are in the U.S. laboratory - it is called Destiny
. Our destiny is to explore and understand. That is what we do here as we investigate microgravity effects on the human body, plants, materials, fluids, space flight control logic. This module will also be the keystone to the additional laboratories that will be added in the next year from around the world.
Going aft we enter the Node, Unity
. It is the piece that connects the Russia segment to the U.S. segment. It is a symbol of the unity of two previously opposed countries.
To the starboard, or right side, of Unity is the airlock, Quest
. It represents our quest/desire to press the limits even further and be able to venture out into the vacuum of space. From here we place ourselves in danger and take risks to prove we can be successful.
A little further aft of Unity is Zarya - or Sunrise
in Russian. It was the first module of the International Space Station, symbolizing a renewed spirit of cooperation in space adventure.
Here is Piers - our pier
or dock. This is where we welcome the next inhabitants of the Space Station who we'll carry on this adventure and where we depart from to come home to Earth.
And finally, Zvezda - in Russian, Star
- This is our living compartment where we spend time together as a joint crew, people from all over the world eating and talking together. As a star, the International Space Station is a constant symbol in the sky above the Earth to remind us what humans can do when they work together.
When we look out the window and see our unbelievably beautiful planet - the idea of being one, working, playing and living together just seems right.
Thank you for sharing your time with me this evening as we honor all the people who have helped bridge the gap between cultures and differences in the world.