NASA Podcasts

Expedition 22 Astronauts Connect With Troops in Iraq
12.29.09
 
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Station, this is Air Force Staff Sergeant Todd Kabalan from American Forces in Iraq, how do you hear me? Good evening we have you loud and clear on the International Space Station.

All right! [ Cheering ] greetings from Earth gentlemen or should I say from beautiful downtown Baghdad first of all I just want to say think you for letting us be a part of this special event, having two army officers on the International Space Station is great and I'm here at the group entertainment [inaudible]and then we're anxious to ask you some questions so I'm going to get right down to it.

[ Inaudible ]

We had a difficult time understanding the question but we recognize that you're assembled there in Baghdad, we periodically fly over Baghdad, I've taken many pictures of it and there's not a day that goes by when we don't remember the service and the sacrifice that so many of you are making over there in the service to our country and in the protection of our freedoms that we too often take for granted. [ Pause ]

Thank you much sir, any more questions on this side?

[inaudible] from Houston Texas, I started work at the Johnson Space Station in Houston, how did you fix your [inaudible]processing that you had clogged sensors with? [ Laughter ]

I'm sorry we missed the question, I did catch that you're from Houston, Texas, is that right, could you restate the question?

[inaudible]

Yes, sir how did you fix your [inaudible] sensors in it and also I work at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. [ Background noise ]

Yeah, I'm not sure we understood the question, Houston can you help...okay thank you. We're going to work on the audio here a little bit, I think that you can hear us just fine. As you probably know I arrived on the space station the first part of October, launched on September 30 from Kazakhstan, not too far from where you are and Colonel Creamer here launched about a week and a half ago also from Kazakhstan, both of us came up on Russia's Soyuz vehicles, it takes two days to get here and we'll be overlapping here on the space station for about 2 1/2 to 3 months. Colonel Creamer will remain on board after my Russian crew mate, Maxim Suraev returns to Earth in the middle of March. [ Pause ]

While we're waiting on...while we were waiting on Houston to help us maybe with some of he echo and the garble if you can understand us still an interesting little tidbit is two or three commander ships down the line will be joined by Colonel Doug Wheelock, a 1982 graduate of West Point which I think is the first time that we'll actually have an active duty army commander on board and taking the high ground as best we can. [ Background noise inaudible conversation ]

I'm really sorry, unfortunately the audio is just not coming through, so I know that Houston is working on it right now...let me tell you a little bit about the crew right now. We're a crew of 5, with the arrival of Colonel Creamer and his Soyuz crew mates we became a crew of 5, we were a crew of 2 for a few weeks prior to that a crew of 6. The station grew to a crew of 6 back last summer in June. By maintaining two Soyuzes here on board each of them have three seats, that serves as our life boat and escape vehicle in case we have to leave in an emergency situation and we're getting close to the final assembly of the space station, we will complete its assembly in 2010 and transition to full utilization in this international partnership made up of the Russians, the U.S., Japanese, European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. [ Background noise and echo ]

All right sir, can you tell us a little bit about your holidays, how have your holidays been, if you can still hear us?

Got that question, how have the holidays been, the holiday's been great, actually for Max and I we've been here a while, we're half way through, they were a nice relaxing break to the pace that we have been experiencing since we came on board. These guys docked two days before Christmas, they brought or they arrived bearing gifts, it was great to see them of course, we anticipated their arrival for a long time and we've had a relaxing schedule pretty much between Christmas and New Years.

And one of the things that we can share with you is being away from family and friends at this time of year is unique for us of course, specifically being on the space station but thinking about you guys, we understand that you are also away from your family and friends and are bonding with the troops that you are living with much like what we do here, this is our home away from home, you guys of course are elbow to elbow with your compadres there, and I think that is just absolutely wonderful because that enables us to do what we can do up here too. [ Pause ] [ Background noise ]

Thank you sir we'll go back to the Master Sergeant's question, I think the audio is working now.

Master Sergeant [inaudible] from Houston, Texas, I also work at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, how'd you fix the clogged filter for the Water Processor Assembly up in the space station? [ Laughter ]

Let's see the Water Processor Assembly, how did we fix, I think you're talking about the Urine Processing Assembly, right...if we fixed that, we have not fixed that so we're currently collecting urine and storing it as far away from us as we can and we're having to take the water that we have stored on board in reserve and process that through the water processing facility to drink on board. It's actually a very interesting aspect of life here, not a whole lot unlike the field experience that you have there where you have to improvise a little bit and make do with what you have and also get by and operate and live with less than what you otherwise would.

And one thing did Jeff did not mention is we only have 5 people on board right now and we have 6 sleep stations and one of the storage places for the extra urine is in that 6th sleep station, we just won't tell the next inhabitant that, okay.

And by the way thank you for your service on two counts both in the military as well as in the space program. [ Pause ] [ Echo ]

Hi, I'm Tim Galvin from the 32 Brigade of the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin the home of Deke Slayton, Jim Lovell and Mark Lee among others, I'm wondering if the Earth will ever be the same to you after you've seen it from that incredible vantage point.

I think for anybody who has seen the Earth from this incredible vantage point as you describe it will never see the Earth in the same way, you know when we're on the Earth we see obviously very limited in some places, we see just a tiny little area that we can observe at any given time, for example I grew up in Wisconsin on a small farm and I didn't have a whole lot of exposure outside of that especially in urban environments and of course then you get on your first airplane ride and your whole world changes and when you get on your first spacecraft and you go to orbit of course it changes again. To be able to view the entire globe looking out the window to orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, to spend weeks and months here and see the Earth go through its seasons, it's an incredible place, it's just a fascinating experience to be able to see God's creation from this vantage point.

I can't say it any better than what Jeff just shared with you but as we go through our working day one of the treats is to be able to build up enough time ahead of the schedule that they planned for us so we can just simply go and look out the window and take pictures, it is that beautiful. [ Pause ] [ Echo ]

All right sir we've been broadcasting this event over the radio for the past few days and...okay we were broadcasting the event over the radio and one of our listeners wanted to know, what it is like for PT for you guys that far up there in a weightless environment.

One of the nice things being in the...being in orbit is that we can lift a lot of weight, I mean we can push around tons of weight up here so that's kind of cheating, so how do you actually lift weights, how do you actually run so we have to use other forces other than gravity to help up, for instance when we're lifting weights on our weight lifting machine it's called the Advanced Resisted Exercise Device, we're actually pushing against...or pulling against a vacuum that we actually build up in big cylinders and we can do some serious weight lifting on that device and running we have a treadmill and it's just like any other treadmill except we've got these long bungee cords that weigh us down and allow us to make contact and not float away off of the treadmill and we also have a bicycle so each day we're suppose to be doing two hours or more of exercise and the exercise is not only for our own general fitness but it's also a counter measure to the atrophy that we suffer when we're up here as well as the bone loss that we suffer up here. [ Pause ]

Does anybody else have a question...sure.

Specialist [inaudible] from the [inaudible] medical company out of Fort Bragg. My question is do you guys ever get the chance to call home to your families?

That's a great question and I know it's a subject that's near to dear to your all hearts as well because you want to stay in contact with the family and obviously in the situation that you're in you're limited to be able to do that. We actually have pretty good resources on board to do that, we have the equivalent of...of a voice over IP telephone system that obviously goes through the communication system we have here on the space station but we can call anywhere on Earth and we typically call our family every day, once a week or so we...usually on a weekend, on a Sunday we have a video teleconference with our family back home, we also have e-mail capability where we can...it's not as quick as it is on the Earth but we synchronize the e-mail about three times a day so we are able to stay in contact that way and then people send us electronic greetings through video and other means as well that we get periodically. So overall we're able to stay in pretty close contact with our friends and family. [ Pause ]

[Inaudible]sure sir [inaudible].

How you doing Lieutenant Mersinger [assumed spelling] from Houston, Texas. I noticed both of you are wearing two wrist watches, could you please explain what the second device is for?

That's a great question; you know the old saying is a man with two watches never knows what time it really is. We actually have a real live watch that we use that's synchronized to the GMT time and we're living on Greenwich Mean Time, but the other black device that we have is an activity watch, it's a light sensor photo diode and a little mini accelerometer and some of the researchers are taking a look at our activity during the day and how active we are versus how restful our sleep is and they watch the light and activity cycles to see if we're getting a proper amount of rest, if we get disturbed at night, so they're tracking our behavior basically. [ Pause ]

Okay, any more questions on this side, sure sir.

A...Lieutenant Kalage [assumed spelling] with 32nd infantry brigade combat team, Wisconsin Army National Guard, I'm just asking if either of you two have experienced EVA and if we could get some first hand accounts on what that's like.

Yeah, I've been outside three times, not during this stay on the space station but the last time I was up here 3 1/2 years ago I went out once in the Russian spacesuit and once in a U.S. spacesuit and then back in 2000 I went out once on a shuttle flight in a U.S. space suit, it's an incredible experience, it's one thing to be able to look out the window here and see the Earth and what not, it's another thing to actually go outside and you yourself in a spacesuit are a spacecraft in itself, it's complete with life support systems, power systems, com systems etcetera to keep you alive and functional outside. The work outside is incredibly challenging, not unlike a lot of what you do, it's a lot of heavy lifting, you're outside for quite awhile, usually 6 1/2 hours or more. You're in the suit about 8 1/2 or 9 hours so it's a long day but it's a highlight of the entire experience. [ Pause ]

Okay any questions on this side.

[Inaudible] sir.

Hey there, Sergeant Ron Wediburg [assumed spelling] 318 public affairs operation center. I noticed you guys kind of look like you're upside down, how does your bodies react to that, like cardio vascular, like does the blood rise to your feet or does it rise to your head, or does it stay still [laughter].

Good question.

That's a great question, the truth is that there really is no up and down up here because every thing's weightless, when we first launch on the Russian spacecraft and you go weightless there tends to be a shift of fluids from the lower legs up into the chest and head area and you tend to see people with moon faces and they get puffy and all the fluid tends to go in that direction but now once we've adjusted up and down don't matter to us and it really doesn't have the blood flow rush that you're referring to. [ Pause ]

Interesting, yes, Captain back there.

Hey, how you doing I'm Captain Sherman, First ID Military Transition Team. We communicate a lot with our military partners in Iragi sites pretty much everyday, what is it like working with the Russian partners on the space station everyday, what are the challenges, any funny things happen?

Well, actually that's one of the most rewarding aspects of the entire experience as well. Both Colonel Creamer and I have worked with the Russians now for over ten years or so and we spent a lot of time in Russia, the biggest challenge of course is learning the language, each other's language so that you can, as you know very well develop a relationship of trust but we become close friends with many of our Russian colleagues, particularly our crew mates, we do trust each other, the...like I said the language is the toughest part of the whole experience but once you've got some level of ability at the language it just opens the doors wide open for those relationships, so we've had a great experience working with the Russians over all, both on an individual level as well as a corporate level.

The other thing I'd like to emphasize is that our Russian compadres here on station I can easily count among my best friends, the humor is really good in both languages, the care, the self care and the caring for your buddy is also extremely good and I have absolutely total faith in everything we're doing but the interesting background is you know I got commissioned in '82 and at that time we were still in the cold war, pre-wall coming down and who would ever thought that we would actually be flying on a Russian vehicle together as equal partners with their extreme experience in space and to some degree their extreme experience on heavy lifting to space stations in space has been wonderful working with these guys, they're really, really super folks. [ Pause ] [ Echo ]

Any more questions on this side...yes, sir.

Major McCreary [assumed spelling] [inaudible] South Carolina, [inaudible] military police command [inaudible] and the 318th [inaudible]Operation Center. My question is how have your many years of experience, including military experience prepared you for what you're currently experiencing in space?

That's a great question, I think that our military experience prepared us for what we're doing in space in the same way that your military experience is preparing you to meet the challenges that you have everyday and the challenges that you're going to have in the future. I think all of the things that you appropriate from being in the military are obvious and those things apply to what we're doing too, the team work, the dedication to mission, the whole concept of duty, of trustworthiness, of honor, of serving and service, all of those things are instilled in those that spend time in the military and all of those things have a direct application to other aspects of life and they certainly have a direct application to what we're doing here, perseverance and things like that as well.

One other aspect I think is pretty key is as you go through your learning curve for the military one of the things that you become acutely aware of is subjugating your personal self for the greater contribution to the team and I think that's one of the biggest things, we happen to be on the pointy end of the bayonet by flying on space station but there's a huge team behind us and for us to be here is both an honor but it's also a duty to serve the people who are really operating the space station which are the ground folks and the researchers. That subjugation is something that is really key with my military background and I would say most people's. [ Pause ]

All right, gentlemen I believe our time has expired, so on behalf of myself, the American Forces Network here in Iraq and all the soldiers here. [ Cheering ] We just want to say good luck to you and Godspeed.

Thank you very much it was an honor to have you on board the International Space Station today, we thank you for your service and again for the sacrifices that you're making in the protection of our freedoms that we're able to enjoy.

And you are in our thoughts, we appreciate what you are doing for our families, our country, by all means stay safe and I can't wait for you guys to get back to your families too.

Godspeed all.

Godsspeed all. [ Pause ] [ Cheering ]

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