Fragile Oasis

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

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A Salute To All The Coasties Out There

We had just passed over Kamchatka, Russia where I took a picture of about 20 of the many dozens of the volcanoes there. The sun angle was low making the volcanoes practically jump out at me. Along the coast in the foreground you can see wisps of what looks like milk in the water. Those are ice flows that are ...Keep Reading

We Get to Carry Each Other

Watching a video of U2’s “One” featuring Mary J. Blige this weekend brought me back to the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan waiting for the countdown and my launch to space – and inspired me to write this post. Just before entering the Soyuz on April 4, 2011 During the two and a half hours between the time ...Keep Reading

A Beacon For The Holidays

Welcoming our new crewmates, Oleg Kononenko, Andre Kuipers and Don Pettit aboard the International Space Station on Friday was wonderful, made all the more so as it came just before Christmas. Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and I have been operating the ISS ourselves for over a month and are happy to have reinforcements, but also very glad to be able ...Keep Reading

Gone for the Season

Being absent for the holidays is collateral damage for an explorer, whatever the location. In Antarctica, the short Antarctic summer is when most exploration happens, and this falls over the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays. Maybe you can get home by Valentine’s Day; it is best to arrive bearing flowers, chocolate, and a smile. Family life can be tough ...Keep Reading

The Pieces Come Together

Four days ago our rocket was in pieces, scattered across the floor of the assembly building. Like anxious parents checking on their sleeping children, we took one last peek inside our Soyuz spacecraft. Everything was tucked in where it should be. Three days ago the pieces started to come together, like giant blocks from a Lego set. Two days ago ...Keep Reading

Six Months Turns to Ten

Space Station expeditions are planned for six months. Some may be a few weeks shorter, some longer. Malfunctions in your spacecraft can impact the mission duration either way by two months or more. Oleg Kononenko (center), Andre Kuipers (right) and I taking a walk on the snowy - and cold - grounds of our crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan last ...Keep Reading

The Most Beautiful Holiday Card

Our planet is so beautiful, peaceful and serene when you look at it from space - the most beautiful holiday card you could imagine. On behalf of my crewmates Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, we wish everyone on planet Earth, a happy, safe and most of all, peaceful holiday season. Editor's note: Would you like to send your good wishes ...Keep Reading

A One-Way Ticket

Unlike my previous trips, this time I arrived in Russia on a one-way ticket. My bridge has been burned. And now I’m in Kazakhstan, awaiting our December 21 launch. Scuttling your ship is a historically proven method (think Cortés) to close the door to the known and force yourself to face the unknown. Now there is no way home, at ...Keep Reading

What Makes an Explorer?

There is a type of social deviate who doesn’t fit in, and who naturally seeks the freedom of the wilderness. The American frontier was settled by that kind of spirit. Ironically, the wilderness of space requires a high degree of social conformity before you are allowed to enter, so today’s pre-selection of candidate explorers effectively requires a different personality type ...Keep Reading

The Road to Space - The Explorer's Dilemma

The road to space is a long and arduous path, a meandering trip that in many ways is more demanding than the Space Station mission itself. Training to fly into space is also the next best thing to actually flying into space. And flying into space is what my job is all about. Me on the left, with Oleg Kononenko ...Keep Reading