L - 4.5 Weeks
Sunita Williams' Mission Log
Image to right: Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams is greeted by Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy at the Shuttle Landing Facility. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Just wanted to say hi and let you know that things are ticking along. Discovery is now in the vertical position, mated to our ET (external tank). It is scheduled to “roll out” to the launch pad on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The processing team for Discovery completed all their work a day ahead of schedule, so right now the entire process is a day ahead. Hats off to the hard working folks at Kennedy Space Center who have been working 24/7 to make this happen!
The schedule for us from here on out is pretty busy. Essentially, we just have one more week of simulations to review our “on-orbit” tasks (timeline for the mission). Then we go to KSC (Kennedy Space Center, in Florida) for TCDT (Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test) in which we simulate the entire process of launch. We get all suited up and actually get into the space shuttle in the vertical position on the launch pad. The launch control team (at KSC) and the flight control team (at Johnson Space Center [JSC] in Houston) will all participate with us as we go through the process of getting strapped in and do communications checks with the control rooms. The week of Thanksgiving we have our final EVA (spacewalk) training in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. Following that, we have our last couple of ascent and entry simulations here at JSC before we go into quarantine. Needless to say, our lives have been planned out to the minute from now until launch.
Luckily we have an army of folks here who are helping us get ready to go. One group of people I would like to mention is the Behavior Health Group. They are the ones who work to make sure we can communicate with our family and friends during the mission. Specifically, a lady by the name of Laura Steinmann has been instrumental in helping me collate the names, e-mails and addresses of the schools you guys have sent in. She has created a database to use when I am in orbit and has sent out information about the mission and NASA to the schools you guys have provided. I would also like to thank Cindy McArthur and Kelly McCormick who work in the Education Office here for being instrumental in helping me get the education information out to all of you. They have really made my life easier!
Image to left: The STS-116 mission crew practices for launch with a simulation of activities, from crew breakfast and suit-up to countdown in the orbiter. In this photo Mission Specialist Sunita Williams is helped with her boot before heading to Launch Pad 39B. Photo Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Now, thanks to an idea of a friend of mine, Al Saylor, I would like to challenge all of you to work out with me for the six months that I am up in space. Our exercise routine is generally two hours a day with a mix of cardiovascular exercise and weight training. This is needed just to maintain the bone and muscle mass we have on Earth by merely walking around. One of the items that will be posted on the website is a general idea of how much I worked out that week. I challenge all of you to join me in getting ready for the Williams’ annual summer swim suit contest by working out with me from January to June!