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Sunita Williams' Mission Log
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Cinco de Mayo

Life on the ISS:
• Right to work this week, no lollygagging around. The schedule was pretty packed for both the U.S. and Russian side so all three of us were running around getting our stuff done. Like I mentioned before, the dynamic is a little different than Exp 14 since we have 2 Russians and 1 American. It has been a good experience so far and I am talking Russian a lot more than I did earlier! F & O can speak perfect English. However it is not their native language, so they speak to each other in Russian. I hear a lot more Russian and try to talk to them in Russian as much as possible, but sometimes they can't stand it and ask me to repeat in English...I'm trying.

• This week was not only the 46th anniversary of the first American in space, Alan Shepherd, but it also sadly saw the passing of Wally Schirra, another one of the "original 7" U.S. astronauts. We certainly would not be here, living and working on the International Space Station without the commitment and dedication of all the folks who worked the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Programs as well as the Russian Space Program. It really is amazing how things have changed in the last 40 years. Some complain and say we haven't done things fast enough, but changes in ideologies and philosophies take time to evolve. This isn't just about making hardware, it is about making partnerships you can trust and investing in the future. At least in the space business, I believe we are in a much better place today than we were 40 years ago.

Cool Places we've flown over:
• Canada and the Northern U.S.
• Europe - even saw Paris and Berlin this time. Lots of fields of green!
• Western Africa with amazing craters and wind scrapes landscapes.
• Himalayas at sunset. Could see some of the pinkish peaks sticking up from the clouds. Beautiful, but still cold there, too!

Good Food:
• After 5 months, I finally broke out my second bonus container. A bonus container is food especially for each individual - supposed to be one every month, but in fine Pandya fashion I have been "saving" them. They are food that we requested or indicated that we particularly liked. For example, mine has the “Indian feast,” saag paneer, palak paneer, pakora in sauce, as well as candy, shortbread cookies, Swedish fish, hummus, nuts and COFFEE WITH CREAM. I was really surprised to see the CREAMY coffee in there. F & O immediately saw the big smile on my face and were genuinely happy for me. I think they saw that nasty grimace I gave every morning choking down plain old black coffee - I’m only half a sailor…
• Well, we had the Indian feast on Friday. I warned the boys that there was no meat, so everyone had meat for lunch and was primed for the feast. It was hot, but this time I had forewarned all and we had side dishes of mashed potatoes and rice. F & O loved it, even the tobacco tasting saag paneer, and ate it all up with the tortillas to simulate naan.
ISS015-E-06687 : Food floats in front of Fyodor Yurchikhin • We have run out of American meats, so we substituted with Russian beef goulash and pork goulash. That, slapped on a tortilla, with southwest corn, red beans and rice, black beans, and processed cheese made for a yummy Mexican extravaganza!

Fyodor’s Mexican appetizer!

Image to right: A spoon-sized item of food floats freely in front of cosmonaut Fyodor N. Yurchikhin, Expedition 15 commander representing Russia's Federal Space Agency, in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA

ISS015-E-08337 : Sunita Williams using IRED

Working out:
• 35 minutes biking, 1.5 mile walk
• 4 miles running
• 35 minutes biking
• 4 miles running, 2 mile run/walk
• 35 minutes biking, 1.7 miles run/walk
• 5.5 miles running
• 4.6 miles running
• RED upped the set number again...I seem to be spending a lot of time on this machine.

Image to left: Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expedition 15 flight engineer, wearing squat harness pads, poses for a photo while using the Interim Resistive Exercise Device (IRED) equipment in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA

Things we did:
Payload stuff
• EMCH (Elastic Memory Composite Hinge). Pretty cool experiment, which is using composite material as a hinge rather than using a classic hinge. We are testing under differing heating conditions with a force on them or not. Future applications to alleviate mechanical parts…
ISS015-E-06777 : Sunita L. Williams works with LOCAD-PTS • LOCAD (Lab on a Chip), a horseshoe crab blood experiment - I wore my horseshoe crab earrings for the occasion.

Image to right: Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expedition 15 flight engineer, works with the Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System (LOCAD-PTS) experiment in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. LOCAD-PTS is a handheld device for rapid detection of biological and chemical substances onboard the station. Image credit: NASA

Maintenance Stuff
• RPCM (remote power control module) remove and replace. This is a bank of electrical switches that needed to be replaced. I had to get behind a panel to do this, which was a little tricky by myself. It is sort of like changing out a circuit breaker. Got to use tools, always a plus!!!
• Payload computer swap and reboot. Not my forte but I managed to make it through unscathed. Lots of booting and rebooting.
• EMU battery maintenance - meaning a combination of the above, hardware (EVA batteries), computers (yuck) and a screwdriver. Needed to make sure our EVA suit batteries are healthy.
• Soldering - I’ve tried this a couple times now - it really works in microgravity. As Mike (my husband) would say, if I can do this type of stuff, anyone can…Reminded me of working on those U-do-it projects with Dad.
• MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) sensor checkout. Equipment inventory - yes, we do count rubber seals, glove box ring assemblies, etc. I’m lucky, LA had to do underwear inventory.
• Defibrillator checkout. Yes, we even have one of these on board in case anyone has a serious problem.
• PAO events
• Oleg doing health experiments
• HAM radio passes