New Boys on the Block
Life on the ISS:
Sunita Williams' Mission Log
• It has been a crazy and emotional week. Lots going on to get the Expedition 14 crew and Charles ready to go home. It seems like everyone had something to do at the last minute. Writing, cataloging, doing experiments, running a marathon - life has been a little crazy. Fyodor and Oleg jumped right into the mix and have been working on getting their own things squared away as well as helping Charles with his experiments and Misha in preparing the Soyuz for departure. Their energy and enthusiasm is motivating, and makes me feel like I have been up here for a while...It took me a while to relax and take time off. Probably 2 months or so before I could really multi-task - and I still don't do it well at times. Rushing around, I always wondered how LA and Misha found the time to have tea. Now I'm the one who finds that time...
• "Tea" breaks are fun. Usually if you stop for tea, someone will feel the desire to join you. So, there is usually good "water cooler" conversation which seems to always end up with language.
Image to right: Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin (left) and astronaut Sunita Williams drink beverages as they pose for a photo. Image credit: NASA
• From our conversations, it seems that languages are as similar as they are different. Funny how words in one language get used in another language. For example "scotch" in Russian is tape and "pampers" means diapers. That is just one type of nuance. There is also the emphasis on different syllables which makes some words sound entirely different. I couldn't stop laughing about the word hippopotamus, which was pronounced like 2 separate words, "hippo-potomus," with the emphasis on the third O. I was laughing saying how "cute" that was. Now "cute" was a word Misha picked up from me and thought was entirely funny. He would imitate me say cute - probably about Gorby [Suni's dog] because I said it/say it continuously.
• After living exclusively with Misha and LA we found that we started taking on each other's characteristics. Both noticed I said "too," as in "too funny," and "too much" quite a lot, and would then imitate me. LA and I picked up on Misha's way of saying essentially "whatever," "da ladna" in Russian. That is accompanied by a distinct hand gesture which also became second nature to all of us.
• Now that Fyodor and Oleg are here to stay, I am anxious to see and learn the characteristics they will "bring to the table." The closed environment of this little ship in space is not only a technical/scientific experiment, but truly a cultural and human experience....
Cool places we have flown over this week:
• Finally starting to see the U.S. in daylight again. Primarily the northern parts. We even saw glimpses of the Pacific Northwest through the clouds for the first time since I've been here.
• Australia, again is just fascinating. The geology of the place is quite amazing and can be easily seen from satellite pictures.
• Some of Africa and a little of Europe - but I have been too busy to study up to take a picture...
• Pre-race meal - lasagna and ravioli. We have pesto paste and sundried tomato paste that really made these two dishes very tasty.
• During the run, I think I went through about 6 bags of water and was lucky enough to have REAL oranges. The Expedition 15 guys brought us some fresh fruit so we had blood oranges up here. Oleg cut some up and was throwing them at me as I ran. It was so nice to taste a real orange. It has been some time now since we had fresh fruit. Yummy!
• Post-race meal - Curry vegetables with peanuts, chicken with peanut sauce! Going for the oriental theme. The curry vegetables are pretty bland so I added peanuts. That isn't as easy as it seems...you can't just drop them in there. I opened the package to expose the gooey sauce the veggies were in, and then had to throw the peanuts in there one by one so they would stick. Once adhered, I could mix it together with a spoon. The process was well worth it!
• 20 minutes biking, 1 mile walk
• 4 miles running
• 3.6 miles run/walk
Took a break
• 35 minutes biking
• 5 miles running
• Spent more time on the resistive exercise device (RED) this week at lower weights, primarily to stretch out my legs.
Things we did:
• Boston Marathon.
• Clothes and computer audits.
• Emergency equipment audit and checkout.
• ALTEA, no really it was the last run for LA. Science until the very last moment! We thought he was done last week!
• A couple more payload debriefs with Huntsville.
• Worked on payloads Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS) and Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) to get them up and running. I think one of them was taking measurements during the marathon running to see if there was significant loading on the Station.
• Misha and LA doing their final workouts as well as the Wallace and Gromit pants.
• PAO events for all of us as well as our first PAO event as the Expedition 15 crew only.
• Robotic practice of STS-117 solar array install for Oleg and me.
• Soyuz packing and ISS cleaning up.
• Expedition 14/15 Change of Command Ceremony. Everything has to be handed over...
Image to left: The crew members onboard the International Space Station pose for a group portrait during the ceremony of Changing-of-Command from Expedition 14 to Expedition 15. Image credit: NASA
• Soyuz undocking preparation:
Fyodor and Oleg getting Charles ready for his ride home!
Image to right: Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin (left), spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi, and cosmonaut Oleg Kotov pause for a photograph in the Zvezda Service Module. Image credit: NASA
Misha getting Charles in his seat in the CA (Soyuz descent module) while LA is saying final goodbyes and getting ready to close the hatch…
Image to left: Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria photographed in a hatch of a Soyuz spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
• Soyuz undocking which was a very long day and led right into…
• Soyuz landing - we were able to hear the communications of the Soyuz with the Control Centers almost up until parachute deploy. Then we were able to watch the rescue forces find the Soyuz on the steppes of Kazakhstan on NASA TV that was sent up here. It was an emotional day of goodbyes which was followed, only hours later with jubilation as we saw our fellow crewmates get out of the Soyuz on EARTH. I think my comment was that it was hard to believe we were just drinking tea with them up here hours earlier...The Earth seems so far away from here. It is hard to comprehend they were back on it in about 4 hours after undocking.