In the Age of Spaceplanes

Stories from the shuttle astronauts, in their own words.


Koichi Wakata: Different Flavors


There are slight differences in the space station modules. If all of them were the same, it probably would be somewhat boring. The Russian Service Module “Zvezda” is one of my favorite modules on the ISS—it has everything you need to live in space. Many windows, big and small, a galley with water supply, a toilet, a treadmill running machine and bicycle machine, oxygen generation and CO2 removal systems. All kinds of cameras to photograph the Earth. It was very comfortable to be in the Service Module.

When you go into the U.S. modules, it gives me a similar sensation to arriving in an airport of another country. It has a different “flavor.” The color of the walls, the lighting, and the noise of fans are different from the Russian modules.

The modules with windows are very popular. The Japanese Experiment Module, “Kibo,” has two large windows facing the port side of the ISS, so you can see the moon rise and sun rise. Before the Cupola was added to the ISS earlier this year, the Russian Service Module was the best place to take photos of the Earth, because you can look directly down. Now among the ISS crewmembers, the Cupola is a very popular place to view and photograph the Earth surface.

Pictured: Koichi Wakata in the space station's FGB module, October 2000.

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