Three Million Miles in Ten Days
Floating off to sleep, Earthgazing, making sure the capsule doesn't depressurize: all standard on a space vacation.
- By Gregory Olsen
- AirSpaceMag.com, October 22, 2010
NASA / Courtesy Gregory Olsen
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So we compromised. I agreed to give NASA ownership of my photos. Since all NASA photos are in the public domain, freely available to anyone, they could send me the pictures I took without having to bill me for the privilege.
Yeah, that’s right … the only way to get my photos back was to agree they weren’t mine. Bureaucracy is wonderful that way. It’s nice, though, that those pictures are now available for everyone to see.
Crew members are tightly scheduled during their stay on the ISS. Mission control in Houston or Moscow sends up a radiogram each morning that details every hour for every person, including their assigned free time.
The day begins with breakfast around 8, usually combined with a status chat with the ground. Then crew members perform their scheduled duties, be it changing a filter, performing a science experiment, taking photographs, or the daily medical conference.
We all got together at mealtimes. While breakfast was a time to reconnect with the rest of the crew, do “com checks” with the ground, and review what was in store for us the rest of the day, lunch was more of a casual affair.
But dinner was our social time. It was more relaxed—our work was usually completed, we were a little tired, and we were more interested in enjoying our “camp” food and getting to know each other a little better. I recall one night we were all discussing what food we were looking forward to enjoying when we returned to earth. John Phillips wanted beer and pizza. Sergey wanted real coffee, so he could smell the aroma of a fresh brew, instead of just swallowing instant.
Personally I would have traded the chance to stay up in space longer for any food on earth, but I chimed in with steak and red wine. It was fun, and a good bonding experience, just getting to know each others’ thoughts and wishes.
Then it was back to our own pursuits before bed. Lights out occurred at 11 p.m. (Greenwich Mean Time), although some of the crew continued to read documents or spend time on the computer after that. Sleeping felt wonderful. It was…just a floating feeling, with my arms held out at my sides. To get in the mood I used to listen to opera, primarily Wagner’s Ring Cycle series, on my $15,000 iPod. (That’s how much it cost to flight certify it!) The strains of “Ride of the Valkyries” would remind me of the thrill of our Soyuz launch. Occasionally I would fire up some Chuck Berry or George Thorogood, two of my rock ’n’ roll favorites. Hank Williams, Sr. would round it out with some classic country. The first two nights it was difficult to get to sleep, due to the excitement of being there. But after that it didn’t take long to fall into dreamland. Occasionally rotations of the solar panels would wake me momentarily with a creaking noise. It reminded me of the sound of a ship’s ropes.