First, Last, Many More to Come
Life on the ISS:
Sunita Williams' Mission Log
• It is the beginning of the "lasts." You know that feeling when you are on vacation and all of a sudden it is the last night you will be there. Then you realize, it is the last SCUBA dive, it is the last hike, it is the last real crepe, the last real Italian cappuccino, the last sunrise or sunset from that location…
• Well, that is the overwhelming feeling I started to get this week. I think it started with finishing up LOCAD last week and now EMCH this week. But funny how that feeling starts to permeate into everything you are doing. I was looking out the window yesterday in the night and noticed the moon must be getting bigger. The clouds are so vividly illuminated when the moonshine is on them. Then it dawned on me, this might be the last time I see a full moon from up here. Initially, I flew to get a camera, but then I just stopped, looked out the window at the moon and enjoyed it. It is simply incredible to be able to "see" the craters, dark and light spots on it. It won't be the last time I see the moon in its full glory, but I'm not sure when I will see it again so clearly.
• Another incredible feeling I am starting to get is that it is the calm before the storm. I flew down to the SM this morning to get my bag of coffee (with only sugar…ugghh, out of coffee with cream again), and it was quiet. The boys were still sleeping and the lights in the SM were off. It was nighttime over the U.S., so not a creature was stirring…so peaceful, only the sounds of the fans humming in the background. I know this won't last for long, the Control Centers will call on the radio, everyone will be up running around, e-mail, photos, getting ready for next week's work will all start shortly. This morning is sort of a metaphor for what I feel last week was like. It was our "last" normal week together where the 3 of us had our normal tasks to do, transferring water, taking air samples, doing science experiments...
• Starting Monday we will be closely involved with TsUP (Mission Control in Moscow) getting ready for the Russian space walk on Wednesday and a second on the 6th. We will then be getting ready for the Shuttle launch on the 8th and their arrival on the 10th. Why not add another picture of Florida - check out the launch pad. Can you see something orange??? Look at the pad near the bottom on the picture.
Image above: Launch Pads 39A and 39B at Kennedy Space Center are pictured from the International Space Station. Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on Pad A (center left). Credit: NASA
I think that is my ride home!
Cool places we've flown over
- seems like after our re-boost, we moved back to our orbits earlier...
• U.S., Southwest, Florida and parts of north
• Eastern Asia and eastern Russia
Good food -
• I've been on a potato kick this week. We have a couple types of mashed potatoes up here. The Russians have two types which are pretty darned good as is. They come with onions or mushrooms. The U.S. version looks like little tapioca balls of mashed potatoes. They are a little bland, but good. A while ago I copied LA and put olive oil on the plain U.S. potatoes. That was pretty good. But this last week, I went all out. I put garlic paste in the Russian mashed potatoes. Then garlic and olive oil in the U.S. potatoes. I was on a roll. They were getting better and better. Then, I remembered the cheese spread we have and added that to the Russian potatoes with mushrooms. The cheese melted, sort of, and it was yummy! It was a great week of potato experimentation!
• Speaking of experimentation, I got Oleg to try PB&J on a tortilla. He was saying he didn't understand why people liked peanut butter. He thought it wasn't very good at all. Then I made him take a taste of my PB&J. Boy, did he like it. Now, I have practically no more jelly left…he was having fun making it on all the different types of breads and crackers we have up here. It was neat to see him become a peanut butter believer before my very eyes!
• That idea about the cheese got me thinking and yesterday I put some cheese in grits! That was also pretty darned good. I think after about 6 months I am getting pretty good at improvising with the food up here! I am looking forward to actually following a recipe when I get home.
Working out -
• 40 minutes biking
• 4 miles running
• 25 minutes biking
• 30 minutes bike PFE with OUM
• 4.5 miles running
• 45 minutes biking, 1.5 miles run/walk
• 6 miles running
• RED repairs! Put new cords/flex packs on. It was obvious that they were new since the resistance increased. I think this is great for me as I am in the homestretch for exercise getting ready to come home. Clay will have essentially brand new flex packs for his arrival.
Things we did:
Starting to get ready for Russian EVAs!
• EMCH (Elastic Memory Composite Hinge). Composite material hinge. It was the LAST couple tests of this payload. Hopefully they will get the "hinges" back to Earth for analysis. This material may have applications for future aircraft and helicopters as well.
• MELFI preps to get ready to unload my blood and urine samples for the ride home with me!
• SLEEP experiment battery change out for the LAST time...
• EMU battery maintenance - charge/discharge cycle. Got new batteries for upcoming US spacewalks on next Shuttle mission!
• Started packing up equipment that will come home with the next Shuttle mission.
• Gathered up EVA tools for the upcoming Russian spacewalks which start this week!
• Water samples from our new water supply, Gorby - the fat Progress. Felt like the pool guy checking the water!
• PFE/OUM (physical fitness exam with oxygen uptake measurements). LAST one, I think!!! Check out the outfit.
Image at left: Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Suni Williams exercises for a physical fitness exam with oxygen uptake measurements. Credit: NASA
• Oleg and Fyodor did more medical tests to get ready for their EVAs. This time it was a test for their legs and their heart rate. Similar to the arm ergometer just using legs. I think this is more of a cardio test than the arm test.
• Started up the robotic arm to get ready for the STS-117 Shuttle flight!!!
• RED (resistive exercise device) flex pack change-out.
• Re-boost - some of those "fireworks." I was asleep in the U.S. segment and didn't hear them, but the boys in the Russian segment near the thrusters could hear them fire!
• Talked to Cesar Milan
!!!! What a highlight of the week, of the mission! This was so great. I was so excited I could barely sleep the night before. I didn't know what I was going to say or ask…so I asked the Control Centers to help me out with some questions. They were great and I got questions about:
1) Dealing with separation anxiety - very applicable to Gorby and me! I've been breaking up the "pack" which causes stress!
2) Shock of return/reunion - very applicable to Gorby and me! I hope he recognizes me! I think he will recognize the smell. Did you know, dogs are born with nose open, eyes open about a week later, then ears…Smell is a big thing for dogs.
3) Video conferencing to recognize folks on TV - extremely applicable to Gorby and me. I have seen him each week on the video conference at my parents' house. I don't think he recognized me through the TV.
4) How much TV should a dog watch - Gorby isn't allowed to watch TV without me...
5) Do dogs think in pictures?
6) Why do some dogs act like puppies all the time, breed or training? Cesar says refer to your pet as animal first, dog second, breed third and then name. Based on that, I think it is training/surroundings.
• HAM radio pass with Toyon Elementary in San Jose, California. Great questions!