The Longest Day
Life on the ISS:
Sunita Williams' Mission Log
• So I was telling you about our long day, Thursday, Soyuz re-docking day. It was a really neat day. We woke up at noon GMT and actually got to sleep the next day around 0900 in the morning. Initially, I didn't understand why just moving a Soyuz from one docking port to another would take so long. Then I saw the timeline. We really did have to shut the ISS down and then start it back up.
• I had that funny feeling we could possibly undock and not come back, so I quickly got my "wedding ring" and a couple other pieces of jewelry that I didn't want to be stranded up here as we started closing the hatches. It was a little eerie actually closing the hatches - sort of felt like when we left our house in Houston when we all thought Hurricane Rita was going to hit - not knowing if you are coming back or not...
• We waved good bye to the camera watching us from Mission Control in Houston as we headed to the Russian segment. There we all had assigned tasks to shut the equipment down ranging from the radiation detectors, Elektron (O2 system) shutdown, CO2 removal system in standby, shutting down the water system, shutting down power to the treadmill and oven, then FINALLY shutting down the toilet. Everyone had one last go...
• Misha was busy with bringing the Soyuz to life. After closing the hatches in the Russian segment up to the Soyuz LA and I joined him at about 1800 - 6 hours to get that far. This is where we were...
Image to right: The Soyuz 13 (TMA-9) spacecraft is docked to the International Space Station prior to relocation to the Zvezda Service Module aft port. Image credit: NASA
• Inside the Soyuz we started on leak checks which are many. There are lots of checks through the procedure to make sure the hatches on both the Station and the Soyuz will hold pressure when we separate. The leak checks usually take a 1/2 hour each to ensure we have good seals. We also had a prescribed time we were to undock and dock to ensure Moscow had good telemetry and we had good lighting to dock. Interestingly enough night time is better for docking to illuminate the docking target correctly. Undocking time was around 22:25, so we had a little time to hang out in the "living compartment" (in the picture above, the top, round part) and eat...
Image to left: Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria (foreground), cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and astronaut Sunita Williams (out of frame) share a meal in the orbital module of the Soyuz 13 (TMA-9) spacecraft. Image credit: NASA
• Then it was time to get in our Russian Sokol space suits...the pressure is held in this suit with this "tying" method with rubber cords. Interesting and works!
Image to right: Astronaut Sunita Williams dons her Russian Sokol launch and entry suit in the Soyuz 13 (TMA-9) spacecraft. Image credit: NASA
• Then we had to go into the "descent module," do some final pressure checks and get ready to separate from the Station...
Image to left: Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria is photographed through a hatch in the Soyuz 13 (TMA-9) spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
Image to right: Astronaut Sunita Williams (left) and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin occupy their seats in the Soyuz 13 (TMA-9) spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
• As we back away from the Station, I think I said, "Oh, my," as we could see our home out the window...
Image to left: The International Space Station was photographed by an Expedition 14 crew member during the relocation of the Soyuz 13 (TMA-9) spacecraft. Image credit: NASA
• For about 45 minutes Misha flew us nadir away from the Station, then aft, under our Progress, then diagonally up to the docking port on the aft end of the Station. There, in a "hover" we rolled into the correct orientation for docking and Misha flew us in...
Image to right: Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria (left), cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin (partially out of frame) and astronaut Sunita Williams relocate the Soyuz 13 (TMA-9) spacecraft to the Zvezda Service Module aft port. Image credit: NASA
• We docked nice and smooth - I think the NASA channel heard us say, "Nice smooth landing, any landing you can float away from is a good landing."
It was about midnight by the time we got out of our suits and started the entire process of leak checks, Soyuz shutdown and Station start up. It was nice to open the hatches up again, start up the ventilation system and see all our "stuff" was still here.
• There was a thought that we might have been in Kazakhstan that evening - soon dining on pizza and beer, but I am very happy all went as planned and we are happily living in our little home in space still. We got to sleep-in Friday and only had to work a 1/2 day! A nice long weekend for us.
Cool places we have flown over this week:
• North East
• Of course we had to have a celebration after re-docking. We broke out the "good" stuff from LA's "bonus" container. We had mussels, chorizo, olives and dark German pumpernickel bread. That was essentially the highlight of the food of the week. Life has been pretty busy getting ready for this big day, so we haven't had that much time to get creative.
• However, this morning, after my long run, I decided to try some warmed up berries with the "Tvorg" cheese pie. It was great. It really tasted like a cheesecake, right out of the oven with a berry topping. Highly recommended! Some breakfast sausage on the side and a bag of coffee was just what the doctor ordered after sweating for a couple hours on the treadmill.
• 40 minutes biking, 1.2 mile walking
• 5 miles running
• 35 minutes biking, 2 miles run/walk
• Day off for re-docking
• 7.2 miles running
• 60 minutes biking, 1 mile walk
• 11.0 miles running - It went great! Fully loaded the entire time and even felt pretty good. Still a bit hard on the hips and shoulders, but the running part was no problem.
Lots of lifting this week. Increased weight for all major sets.
• One very interesting observation is that it was entirely difficult and painful to work-out after taking a day off for the Soyuz relocate. I was thinking how nice it was to give our legs a little break from all this. But in actuality, I really think we need to put some weight on us every day either from a weight work-out or the treadmill with a load.
Things we did:
• CFE (Capillary Flow Experiment) - we were checking out how capillary flow influences how fluid flows around a vein. Very cool applications for future space craft engine design. I call it the "lava lamp" experiment because some of the fluid is pink and we hang out watching it with video and pictures. If only we had a black light...
• Progress undock on Tuesday. We called this Progress Vova, which is short for the Russian name Valodia. Vova is a cartoon character in Russia like Dennis the Menace - always up to mischief and causing problems. This is the Progress whose antenna Misha and LA needed to cut off during their Russian EVA so it could undock - it didn't act/retract quite correctly.
• PAO event. LA did this entire interview in Spanish. Have I told you he speaks about 5 languages fluently? Amazing. I am glad there was an interpreter there for me.
• LA and I were on "Go Navy Radio." A USNA radio station run by alumni. The topic was service selection, submarine force and Space Station folks. It was fun to "listen" to the radio and hear all that Navy/Marine corps lingo up here.
• Soyuz relocation - talked about this already...
• LOCAD - PTS (Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System). This experiment was so fun to do for many reasons - but most of all I got to work with some great friends, Norm Wainwright who invented this system and Jake Maule, the Principal Investigator. This is a proof of concept experiment of a device that detects the presence of bacteria, using, get this, blood of a horseshoe crab. The equipment and concept has many overarching applications from possible life detection on other planets to remote disease/virus detection.
• HAM radio pass with the International School of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium