Status Report

Expedition Five Letters Home #4 – By Astronaut Peggy Whitson

By SpaceRef Editor
August 15, 2002
Filed under , ,

Hey guys,

This week was
pretty mellow, with the 4th of July holiday in the middle, so we
weren’t too overworked. In order to make the holiday more fun for
the folks who had to work in Mission Control, I arranged to have
food and red/white/blue banners for the Mission Control folks. For
the first shift, as soon as I got up, I played wake-up music for
them (shuttle tradition is that the ground plays wake-up music for
the shuttle crews…not a tradition we have for station). I picked
“Born in the USA” since I thought it appropriate for the
day. Later, when the second shift came to replace the first crew,
I asked for live video down. I had used markers to paint red/blue
stripes and stars on our faces. Valery and Sergey were good sports
and let me paint on them too!

A couple of
weeks ago I announced the first person who gets to park in my parking
spot for two weeks, as a way to say thanks for all the help during
training. So now every two weeks I am going to award a new person
with parking privileges. I also had the ground team participate
in a contest to come up with the best acronym to name this award.
I picked the “APPLE award” (Alternative Peggy Parking
Location for Excellence) because I wanted to recognize the excellence
of the work the folks do on the ground, but most of the inputs were
quite creative!

The day before,
on July 3, the folks on the ground arranged for a 3-way telecon/video
conference with friends in Houston and Star City to celebrate a
friend’s 40th birthday. It was a lot of fun to hear everyone—all
at the same time!

One of my tasks
for the week was to do the routine maintenance of the resistive
exercise device. As it turns out, while performing the maintenance
(the part where I was supposed to check the entire length of cord),
I apparently pulled the cord off the tracks on one of the canisters.
The fix for this is not a pleasant procedure, and involves tearing
the device apart to reseat the cord. You can imagine that I was
not overly impressed with routine maintenance at this point in time!

I also set
up the first experiment inside the microgravity sciences glovebox
this week. Tomorrow, I will do the powered checkouts of the glovebox
and the next day start up the experiment. It is ssssoooo cool, getting
to do science in space!!! This week we are also doing the urine
collections for the renal stone investigation…and while I suspect
this won’t be especially fun to collect the samples, I do think
it’s one of the best experiments (I am biased, of course, since
it is my experiment!).

As a crew,
we usually eat most of our meals together. It’s fun for me, since
this is the primary time I get to interact with Valery and Sergey.
It’s good that this part is fun, since I think one of the major
challenges will be to keep eating out of a bag (just add water)
or a can or an irradiated package. So far, my favorite food, by
far, is picante sauce. It seems to make everything else taste a
little better and when that doesn’t seem appropriate, there is always
red pepper sauce. The only disadvantage of the red pepper sauce
is that it seems to be pressurized inside the little pouches (who
wouldn’t want propulsive red pepper sauce?—watch the eyes!), so
one has to be very careful how/where you cut open the package! I’m
sure that we are going to run out of picante sauce in the next week
or so…and I’ll have to wait at least until mid-Sept (when the
next Shuttle will arrive) for re-supply.

We passed our
30-day mark on orbit this week. It doesn’t seem like it has been
that long, which is MUCH better than having it seem the opposite!

Hope all is
well with all of you,


SpaceRef staff editor.