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Sandy Magnus' Middle East Tour
Journal Entry 1

ISS018-E-013808 -- Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Sandy Magnus

Astronaut Sandra Magnus, Expedition 18 flight engineer, works on a crew quarters compartment in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Well we have been here for a few days and tomorrow is our first big race event. We started off in Kuwait and hung around the flight line for the better part of the day waiting on military air into our first base in Iraq. Everywhere we have been we have met some great people; people who are sacrificing much to be over here to support our country. I have talked to people who run the gamut from rookies on their first tour to folks who have been coming over here 5 or so times in the last 7 years, always too somewhere in the mid-East. I have met folks who are guardsmen, reservists, from all walks of the military and former military who have stayed on as contractors. I would have to say the 90% that I have talked to are happy to be serving and feel like they are doing something useful. It is very moving.

The weather is hot here, no kidding, hot. Of course the humidity of Houston is not present, but in the fierce heat of the day you feel like you are inside an oven. When the wind blows, the dust is so fine that it penetrates everything so keeping things clean, including yourself, is challenging (something similar to what we will be dealing with on the moon, I imagine). We may need to tag up with these folks on their experiences and perhaps learn something useful for our moon challenges! The dining halls are good and the barracks where we have been staying vary from place to place. Some of the challenges of the life over here remind me of the same situation I encountered while living on the ISS. You work, eat, sleep, exercise, and look for recreation in other places, like watching movies or reading books. Also you have a tenuous contact with home, using the phone when you can. Finally you know how long you are supposed to stay, theoretically anyway, so as your time to come home draws nearer you look forward to it. There are indeed many parallels.

Our first race, a 5K, is tomorrow at 6am so as to avoid the heat of the day. We are expecting a good turn out and I am looking forward to a run. I have not had much time to go to the gym yet on this trip.