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A Typical Day

Another milestone of our Expedition has been completed – the arrival of HTV3 and the undocking and redocking of 47P (Russian Progress vehicle). What you quickly realize here is that the passing of a milestone is quickly followed by the approach of another. Today, Sunday, we will relax and enjoy a day of rest. Tomorrow we will begin preparation for the final departure of Progress 47P, the arrival of Progress 48P, the long task of unloading and then loading HTV3 and the upcoming Russian and US Spacewalks followed by HTV3 departure and then my trip home. As you can see it is a never ending string of diverse activities.

I am commonly asked “What is a typical day like on the ISS? What do you do every day?” These are difficult questions to answer. I can say that there are a few constants in my day. I usually wake up around 6am; clean myself up, have breakfast, lunch and dinner and somewhere in between workout before going to bed around 10pm.

It is what occurs around those activities that makes this job interesting, challenging, stressful and fun. Diversity. If you are someone that likes to know what you are going to be doing every day, this job would drive you crazy. On Saturdays, we get a general idea of what we will be doing during the upcoming week. Here are few of the things I have done in the past 2 weeks since I have written last. Various science experiments, Soyuz seat fit check, 31 Soyuz arrival with the new crew, HTV3 preparation (actually flying the arm to practice grappling the vehicle and lots simulator time), public affairs interviews and recordings, HAM radio contacts, toilet maintenance (I am now very familiar with our system), emergency simulations with the crew and the mission control centers, periodic medical exams (both physical and mental), controlled diets, ARED (exercise device) maintenance, urine bag usage (again), blood draws (both as a subject and operator), air quality monitoring, transfer and consolidation of supplies, filter cleaning (which means vacuuming), ultrasounds (again, both as a subject and an operator), and the capture and berthing of HTV3. Our planners and flight control teams have a tough job.

On any given day, you can go from conducting a technical science experiment, to talking to school kids, to vacuuming, to drawing blood from a crew mate. The tasks range from things I would do at home on a Sunday morning (no, not drawing blood) to grappling a visiting vehicle loaded with supplies with a robotic arm. While some are more exciting than others, because of the environment we are working in all require mental focus.

I just received an email from a friend of mine that recently returned from a 10-day canoe trip in Alaska. Everything did not go as planned and there were quite a few unexpected surprises, which make for a great adventure. While he had the best time, when he finally got off the river he was not only physically tired but mentally exhausted. I told him that working on the ISS is kind of like his river trip. You have the best laid out plan but unexpected things happen that get your heart pumping. You adjust and problem-solve and have the best time of your life. After a relaxing Sunday watching the Olympics, we will be ready to start up all over again and see what adventures await us.

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Joe's blog and more also at nasa.gov