Life on the ISS:
Sunita Williams' Mission Log
• So, the three of us were looking at each other last Sunday thinking now what do we do...Well, luckily enough we got to glide into the work week. Because of the crazy schedule during docked operations with the Soyuz, and to get ready for its undocking, we sort of lost Saturday. Our Friday was so long and we needed to get back to our regular schedule that Saturday never happened for us. When we woke up the day after undocking it was Sunday. This seems confusing, but there is a need to shift our schedules around to accommodate the vehicles which will be coming and going from the ISS so that we are over the correct part of the Earth for those activities - and we are awake. This is because of things like communication with the ground site, vehicle trajectory, etc.
• Our "normal" schedule, when no one is visiting, is waking up at GMT 0600 and then going to sleep at GMT 2200. We "sleep-shifted" about 12 hours to get back on the normal schedule after undocking so that is how we lost Saturday. Sunday was a mini work day since we still needed to get stuff done, so Monday and Tuesday were essentially our weekend. We didn't have full schedules, just house cleaning, organizing and working out. Fyodor and Oleg (I will now call them F & O) did lots of cleaning in the Russian Segment. It looks like a different place!
• Even though we had a couple days off, it still was a little bit of a shocker to jump right into work on Wednesday, maybe because I am now the only American up here. It felt a little funny being in the lab all by myself for most of the work day. No one to talk to in the lab is probably the biggest difference from when LA was here - not that he was listening to me half the time... I was cracking up at myself doing a CFE (Capillary Flow Experiment) on Thursday because I found that I was talking to myself. As part of the experiment, we are supposed to talk into a video tape player to record our observations about the flow. I started to do this during the experiment, but then when it was over, I found that I kept talking to myself about what I was doing.
• It was good to work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It felt like a Friday night at the end of the week. We decided to have a nice dinner together so we opened LA's leftovers and had some pate, olives and herring. With our appetizer feast we watched a Russian movie together called "C Novum Godum" - Happy New Year. It is a very funny movie about how folks ended up at a hospital together for New Year's Eve and how they celebrated.
We ate popcorn balls and pretzels with frosting. F & O weren't too impressed with my sweet salty combination, da ladna (Misha's "whatever"). It was a nice end of the week.
• I have been starting to think a lot about my relief Clay Anderson lately. You may have heard, I am coming home on the next shuttle which is a little earlier than expected, and Clay will take my place on board. So what the heck does this have to do with food you may be asking - well, he is a corn-fed Nebraskan! We even flew over Nebraska on Saturday and saw all the corn fields. It is amazing to see the green of spring after so much brown and white of winter there in the heartland. So in celebration of Clay's now advanced schedule to relieve me, I had a corn dinner the other day. A dish/bag of chicken, roasted corn and black beans in a spicy sauce is particularly good on a warmed up tortilla. I accompanied that with southwestern corn. It is creamed corn with a spicy sauce - very tasty meal!
• I am starting to think about those things that I miss from home. Ice cream is definitely one of those things we do not have up here. My favorite is pistachio. I love it with chocolate sauce. So, to imitate this combination of tastes, I added some pistachios to chocolate pudding cake. This is a mushy cake/pudding dessert we have in a bag. It is good heated up. It is really thick and rich so I think it needs something to cut the taste a bit. I thought the pistachios would be perfect. Again, I had to throw them in there to get them to stick, then mush around the cake. A messy process. The outcome was satisfactory - however, I am looking forward to real pistachio ice cream with chocolate sauce!
• 37 minutes biking, 1.5 mile walk
• 4 miles running
• 40 minutes biking
• PFE with OUM (physical fitness exam with oxygen uptake measurements). This was a little difficult because the load on our cycle now needs to be manually entered. Previously we could enter the name of a "protocol" and the machine would increase the load in a predetermined fashion. That feature doesn't work right now so we need to enter the load in manually. That is fine, however, with heating and friction because of the exercise the load consistently increased, so to keep the same load, one had to continually readjust. With that "head gear" we wear for this test, this is impossible for me to do. Fyodor had to continually monitor and adjust the load. Very funny actually, as I was trying to speak to him through the mouthpiece - in Russian, while cycling ...surprisingly enough (haha!) , I was not extremely successful at times and we went the wrong way on the load...not such an accurate test.
• 5.2 miles running
• 35 minutes biking, 1.5 miles walk/run
• 4.6 miles running - used a higher load. Starting to get serious thinking about coming home!
• RED - increasing the reps as well as the load. Even though I have 2 months to go or so, it is time to start increasing here to get ready for coming home.
Things we did:
• ISS cleaning and reorganizing - you know how it is when you move in, you need to make it "your" home. F & O have been using every free moment to make the ISS their home. Part of this rearranging is using the barcode reader. We use a system of barcodes to locate and identify pieces and parts to everything here on the ISS. We use a barcode reader, sort of like a scanner used at the grocery store - this way we can monitor when something is moved. It also helps us to put things back correctly when we find something "floating" around.
• PFE with OUM - why I needed to do this after running a marathon last week is a mystery to me - but we are test subjects...
• Emergency equipment drill. Not only did we practice for one, but we actually did have a fire alarm. It got all of our heart rates up. It was actually a software glitch set off by one of the payloads. Thankfully it was just a false alarm.
• CFE (Capillary Flow Experiment) aka lava lamp. I think I mentioned this before, different shape surfaces with different viscosity fluids. We aggravate the fluid and see how it reacts to the different surfaces. Advanced engine technology applications!
• MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) checkout. Working on getting it up and going to do more science!
• PAO events.
• SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experiment). I am told we got enough info, data and video for 4 theses!
• Service Module re-boost!!! It was the first time the engines on the back of the ISS have fired since this vehicle was launched. We had tried to re-boost this way instead of using the Progress about a year ago, but the engine cover did not move when commanded. During one of LA and Misha's EVAs they were able to free that cover so now it works like a charm. The re-boost was cool - speaking of free falling because if we let go, we floated backwards as the vehicle moved forward. I videotaped us and popcorn balls falling back.
• HAM radio passes
• Taking pictures...these are the shots I am really going to miss...
Image to left: Most of the Hawaiian Islands and Earth’s horizon are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 15 crew member on the International Space Station.
Image credit: NASA
Image to right: Cosmonauts Fyodor N. Yurchikhin (left), Oleg V. Kotov (right), Expedition 15 commander and flight engineer, respectively, and astronaut Sunita L. Williams, flight engineer, photographed during a teleconference in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA