[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] - [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

ISS Routines



(Note:  This story from Space.Com covers just about everything except ARISS 
amateur radio.  We expect that to be fired up within the next week.  RN, 
K6DUE)

 
Space Station Alpha Crew Settles Into Daily Routine

By Todd Halvorson
Cape Canaveral
Bureau Chief

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts 
settled in aboard Space Station Alpha Friday, gearing up for the long haul -- 
and a spartan existence -- aboard the international outpost. 

A day after arriving at the infant station, the so-called Expedition One crew 
was back at it again, setting up critical computer, communications and carbon 
dioxide removal systems -- all key to keeping Space Age pioneers alive in low 
Earth orbit. 

What follows over the next four months will be workdays that stretch up to 15 
hours, six days a week. And the crew -- which includes Bill Shepherd, Yuri 
Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev -- essentially will be on call around the clock. 

They’ll be living in what amounts to a cluttered three-room efficiency -- and 
one of the station’s wings will remain off limits until early December. 

There are only two bunks for the three men, and they’ll wear earplugs at 
times to drown out industrial clatter created by station equipment. 

They’ll have e-mail, but no Internet connection, and space-to-ground radio or 
video contact with family and friends will come weekly at best. 

With no washer or dryer, they’ll wear disposal clothes, and since taking a 
shower in weightlessness is more of a chore than a pleasure, they’ll opt for 
daily sponge baths. 

What’s more, there’s no booze aboard. 

"This is not the Hilton," NASA flight director Jeff Hanley said in perhaps 
the understatement of the early 21st century. 

Still, the three veteran space fliers already are adjusting to the no-frills 
lifestyle. 

"How do you feel, guys?" a flight director at the Russian Mission Control 
Center outside Moscow asked the station’s inaugural tenants as they began 
their first full day of work on Alpha. 

"Seems like everything is fine," said Krikalev, a consummate spaceman who 
already has spent almost 500 days in orbit aboard space shuttles and Russia’s 
Mir space station. "It feels like home by now already." 

"That’s terrific," the Moscow ground controller replied. 

That’s not to say, however, that the trio’s planned four-month stay on the 
station won’t be hardship duty. The crew made that quite clear in preflight 
interviews. 

Take a typical day aboard the station. And forget the traditional wake-up 
music enjoyed by NASA shuttle crews. 

Instead, a buzzing, alarm clock-like tone will blare out of station speakers 
at 1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (06:00 GMT) every day, rousting Shepherd, 
Gidzenko and Krikalev from sleeping bags tethered to keep them from floating 
about during the night. 

Their Russian-made crew quarters is equipped with only two closet-like 
"staterooms," so one of the station residents is staking out some personal 
space elsewhere in the module -- probably in front of one of its 13 windows. 

Still unclear is exactly who is the odd man out. 

The line then forms at the station’s cramped bathroom at the start of a 
90-minute period set aside for breakfast and morning hygiene -- cleaning up, 
brushing teeth and shaving. Some, however, prefer to let their whiskers grow. 

"We haven’t had enough time to grow a beard yet," Krikalev told flight 
controllers Friday. "But we’ll have our chance." 

Then at 2:30 a.m. EST (07:30 GMT), the crew will check e-mail, catch up on 
news beamed up from home and review a "to-do list" of chores to be completed 
during the day ahead. 

A half-hour later, the crew will chat with ground controllers about scheduled 
jobs and then work will begin in earnest each day at 3:15 a.m. EST (08:15 
GMT). 

All three of the station residents will squeeze two hours of exercise in 
between their household tasks -- a mandatory regimen meant to combat bone and 
muscle loss caused by long-term stays in weightlessness. 

It’s not unusual, though, for a station crew to fall behind the so-called 
"timeline." 

Shepherd and company, for example, struggled to get all their work done after 
their arrival at the station Thursday. Then they faced a few more pesky 
problems Friday trying to get power tool battery chargers and food warmers 
working properly. 

"We worked really hard yesterday, and we could not keep up with the timeline. 
And we’re way behind today, too," Shepherd told colleagues in NASA’s Mission 
Control Center in Houston. 

"Hooking up the food warmer was scheduled for 30 minutes, and it took us a 
day and a half to finally figure out how to turn it on," he added. "You’ll 
just have to be patient with us." 

The food warmers -- which resemble hot plates -- are instrumental for making 
the mid-day meal, which comes about 7 a.m. EST (12:00 GMT) each day. And then 
it’s back to the orbital salt mines until 1:15 p.m. EST (18:15 GMT). 

Another chat with ground controllers comes at that point -- to review work 
completed and schedule jobs for the following day. Then the crew has about 
two hours free time to clean up, eat dinner and prepare for the next day’s 
onslaught -- in theory, that is. 

What little spare time the crew manages to find will be spent relaxing 
station-style. 

Shepherd, a 51-year-old Navy captain, plans to read The Sand Pebbles, a 
fictional 1962 best seller by Richard McKenna. An accomplished garage 
mechanic, he also brought along an array of power tools to play with. 

"I’m planning on spending a lot of time trying to figure out how things work 
(on the station), and if they are not working, I’ll take them apart and put 
them back together and see if I can at least not make things worse," the 
veteran astronaut said prior to flight. 

Gidzenko, a 38-year-old Mir veteran, brought along his musical favorites: The 
Beatles, The Rolling Stones and a selection of Russian folk songs. But the 
Russian Air Force colonel prefers to stay busy to ward away the blues. 

Onboard Mir, Gidzenko discovered that the holidays could be especially 
difficult if he didn’t keep himself occupied. And the Expedition One crew 
will spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentines Day in space 
before a Feb. 26 return to Earth. 

"Sometimes it was very difficult because all other days we had a lot of 
things to do, and that’s why the time flowed very quickly," Gidzenko told 
reporters recently. "When we had a little bit of spare time, it was a time 
when I thought about Earth and sometimes we miss that." 

Krikalev, meanwhile, expects to take full advantage of the view from above. 

"I spent more than 15 months in space (aboard Mir), and I didn’t read much in 
space," the 42-year-old aerospace engineer said prior to flight. "Every time 
you have a choice between just going to look outside or reading a book, (I 
think) you can read back here on the ground." 

There’s one other thing that will have to wait until the crew sets foot back 
on terra firma: The cocktail hour. 

An occasional shot of vodka or cognac is not out of the question aboard Mir, 
but there’s always been an unwritten rule prohibiting liquor on American 
space vessels. 

"We’re a dry ship now," admitted Shepherd, a man who enjoys a tall, cold 
beer. 

"There’s no authorized supply of alcohol on board," senior NASA project 
manager Jim Van Laak added before planting his tongue firmly in his cheek. 

"It comes up when the handball court comes up." 

----
Via the sarex mailing list at AMSAT.ORG courtesy of AMSAT-NA.
To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe sarex" to Majordomo@amsat.org



AMSAT Top AMSAT Home