Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.

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Three Ships Pass In The Night - Part IV - My First Video Blog


Greetings from the Cupola of the International Space Station. This is my first ever video blog from space.

It’s Part IV of the saga of Space Shuttle Endeavor’s visit here. It’s a good opportunity to try this new mode of communication. I think you will be really fortunate because the sun will set here in a little bit, and hopefully we’ll get a nice view of that and the picture will turn out good.

So, I have a couple of topics to talk about.

Our Italian Restaurant

When we had the six crew mates from STS 134 on Space Shuttle Endeavour, we got together a few times for dinner. The first time there were 12 of us. There were the six STS crew members - Cady, Paola and Dima hadn’t left yet – so we got together- all six ISS crew member and all six shuttle crewmembers in Node 1 of the Station. Roberto Vittori brought up some Italian specialties from Sardinia. It was really nice! Everybody chipped in some of their own food, and it we had a very nice evening. Kind of relaxing after some busy work days.

After Cady, Paolo and Dima left, we had another dinner in the Russian segment.

Everybody Loves Ice Cream

We had a freezer that Endeavor brought up to be installed on the Station. It had to be brought up powered – so, it was cold! They thought, why launch a freezer with nothing in it, let's put something in for the crew. So we had some ice cream. After not tasting ice cream for two months, it was really nice – a good experience to have something a little different.

The last meal we had was in Endeavour itself. It’s always good to get together on these busy missions and spend some time together.

Yuri Gagarin Made It to The International Space Station

On the Souyuz spacecraft that we launched in (to the ISS) really close to the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s launch – the first human in orbit – to honor that, our spacecraft was named Gagarin, and his picture is on the spacecraft itself. I’d like to show it to you out the window, but unfortunately, we are on the bottom of the Space Station, and the Soyuz is docked to the top of the Space Station. When Mike Finke and Greg Chamitoff were outside, they took some pictures. It was really an honor to have Yuri Gagarin’s likeness and his name come aboard the space station.

“@Astro_Ron: Yuri Gagarin has made it to the #ISS Our spacecraft bearing Yuri's px + name 4 50th Anniv from @AstroIronMike” Tweeted 27 May 2011

When Mike Fossum (Expedition 28 crewmember arriving Thursday) and I go out for our spacewalk during the STS-135 mission (in July) we are going to try to take some of those same pictures.

A Cloud of Luminescent Vapor

During the docking mission, I had a private medical conference, that I decided to do up here in a video format, just like we are doing now. When I opened the shutters of the Cupola – I was greeted by an amazing view – something I had never seen before. We were over Australia, and the auroras were just spectacular! I’m going to turn the camera so, as we talk, hopefully you can see the sunset.

There’s an orbital sunset going on right there.

Looking out the window during that medical conference – I’ve seen auroras before, but never like this! They weren’t off in the distance – it was almost like we were flying through these green and orange waves of dancing luminescent clouds. It was absolutely spectacular – a really great experience.

High Altitude Home Repairs

The STS-135 crew did a lot of work outside, and we did a lot of work inside. We replaced the Oxygen Generation System and also the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly. Both of those units were replaced. Mike Fincke, Greg Chamitoff and I did that. That’s part of the work that’s helping us keep the station in full utilization through the end of the decade.

Mike Finke and I working on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly

I’m going to stop here for a second, and get to a place where I can have some light. Stand by.

I’m in the U.S. laboratory right now.

STORRM in the Milky Way

STORRM (Sensor Test for Orion Rel-nav Risk Mitigation) is a test of some of the new rendezvous equipment that will be on future spacecraft. After the Endeavour crew undocked, they did the normal fly around the space station, then they hung around for a while to test some of the new equipment. While they did that I was fortunate to see them. I went to the MRM-2 (Russian Mini Research) module where I could see them through a side window. At first, they looked like a big spotlight at night, but it was against the backdrop of the rotating Milky Way – as we are circling the earth, the Milky Way is slowly rotating. Every time Endeavour fired the engines, there was this spherical high velocity shock wave of vapor that was spreading out in all directions, including engulfing the Space Station. It was really spectacular to see that. At one point they came underneath the Space Station, and we could see them from the Service Module with the Earth facing windows down there. They started flashing a flashlight at us in Morse Code and we did the same to them. We were communicating with flashlights between the Space Station and the Space Shuttle.

We had as many as twelve people up here for a while. Now it’s just Andrey, Sasha and I, and it’s been kind of quiet. We are looking forward to Mike Fossum, Sergei Volkov, Satoshi Furukawa. They launch tomorrow, and will be here Thursday.

I hope you like this first video blog. I’m being called off to work, so we’ll see you next time.