Fragile Oasis

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

Don's Posts

Don Pettit

Don Pettit, who has lived in space for 370 days during three missions, is known as Mr. Wizard, Mr. Fixit, and as Dad. He's a chemical engineer, an Eagle Scout, and an explorer on earth and in space. He is ...

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Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire, was what Magellan named the tip of South America in 1520. He had seen the fires set by local inhabitants who did not want the Portuguese explorer to set foot on their land. A new page in the history of this distant part of our globe is now being written. Oil has been ...Keep Reading

Blood and Treasure

Gold, silk, and spices were the tangible treasures from past explorations. Today, the frontier of space offers treasures that are golden but not gold—secrets about the biochemistry of life, drawn from the bodies of astronauts. Weightlessness poses a biochemical challenge to human space travelers, who develop a host of fascinating maladies such as bone decalcification, cataracts, retina swelling, eye focus ...Keep Reading

A Flashing Success

Flashing the International Space Station with beams of light as it passes overhead had never been successfully done - until yesterday. It sounds deceptively easy. In an earlier post I wrote about the technical requirements. But like so many other tasks, it becomes much more involved in the execution than in the planning. Early Sunday morning, at 01:27 GMT our ...Keep Reading

Today's Coffee is Tomorrow's Coffee. Or Tea.

During the flight of STS-126 in 2008, we carried up three refrigerator-sized pieces of equipment. One was a toilet for the NASA side of space station. There was already one on the Russian side, so this one gave us redundancy. In the past, when the toilet broke, all work had halted until we fixed it. No other single piece of ...Keep Reading