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Ask the Crew: STS-109

Send a question to MCC or the CrewPAGE: 1 2 3
Question #1 Scott Altman's Reply

From: Emily McLucas, Baltimore, Md., Age: 6
To: Commander Scott Altman

Question: Is fixing the telescope like fixing a car, with all of its little parts?

Altman: Emily, I guess the answer is that yes, it is, to some extent, although it's also a little different in that we use mostly big parts that we can use while we're wearing the bulky spacesuits and replace big parts at a time versus... As cars become more and more complicated they're, I think, becoming more and more like the telescope, with boxes that you pull out and replace with new ones. So there are a lot of comparisons with fixing a car, and we're hoping that we give the Hubble a good tuneup.

Image: STS-109 Commander Scott Altman
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Question #2 Scott Altman's Reply

From: D.J. Lake, Virginia Beach, Va., Age: 8
To: Commander Scott Altman

Question: I'm a Cub Scout with Pack 791, Den 8. Tonight, we are doing a sleepover at the Air & Space Museum in Hampton, Va. My question is what does it feel like being in space, and how would you describe the takeoff? Someday I hope to become a pilot to fly jets.

Altman: Well, DJ, it's a very interesting feeling floating in space, here on the flight deck, as we are working outside. In some ways, it makes working a lot easier -- we can move heavy equipment really easily. But on the other hand, you don't have your feet on the ground. It would be like moving into your house without being able to walk. You have to use one hand to balance yourself and the other hand to hold onto the equipment and another hand to translate. You find you run out of hands sometimes.

But we love being up here. It's beautiful looking back at the Earth. Takeoff was an incredible experience as clouds lit off and we just exploded into the sky. It was really a tremendous feeling of acceleration. I give you all the best, hope you become a jet pilot someday. I loved flying jets my whole career, and then onto the shuttle. So good luck to DJ.

Image: STS-109 Commander Scott Altman
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Question #3 Scott Altman's Reply

From: Alessio Tarantino, Maglie, Lecce, Italy, Age: 17
To: Commander Scott Altman

Question: How do you feel knowing that three other astronauts and cosmonauts are in space as you, but in different places? Thank you.

Altman: It really is a neat feeling to know that we're not alone up here. There's another space vehicle going around -- the International Space Station is in orbit 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And we're really looking forward to getting a chance to talk to them... [comm breaks up] ... cosmonaut as well. It really is a fellowship with people, being in orbit. So it's a neat feeling, and we're looking forward to talking to them.

For Alessio, I just wanted to finish up by saying it does feel great to be up here. We're close friends with other astronauts and cosmonauts who are in orbit. Looking forward to the chance to be talking to them in a few days from on orbit. It's just a neat feeling to know that somebody else is out there in space, as we are. We wish them all the best.

Image: STS-109 Commander Scott Altman
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Question #4 Duane Carey's Reply

From: Tom Young, Scappoose, Ore., Age: 60
To: Pilot Duane Carey

Question: How do you log your flying time in the space shuttle in your flight log?

Carey: Tom, that is logged in a special category -- space flight -- and we get hours just like you do flight time on the ground. It's a lot easier to rack up the flight time up here for space flight, counting the hours here. I am going to try and get some pilot and command time, though, when we actually do the landing, since I'll be at the controls for that. Thanks for the question.

Image: STS-109 Pilot Duane Carey
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Question #5 Nancy Currie's Reply

From: Kevin Frick, Lexington, Ky., Age: 45
To: Mission Specialist Nancy Currie

Question: What are the other crewmembers doing while the space walks are going on?

Currie: As I am sure you guys on the ground have figured out, everybody inside is gainfully employed. Of course, we’ve got two IVA crewmembers; one working primary IVA, calling out all of the procedures to the EVA crewmembers and making sure they have the appropriate tools and settings. The backup crewmember is keeping watch over the crew procedures that we have in case we come up with any anomalies. Myself, I have been the arm operator so far for all of these. Scooter [Commander Scott Altman] is going to help me out a little bit today [Thursday] and tomorrow. And we will be flying the guys around to all of the positions. There will be one crewmember on the arm at all times. And Digger [Pilot Duane Carey] is solely responsible for all of those fantastic views that you have been shown. He has been working very hard and has hardly gotten a break for more than about 10 minutes during an EVA.

Image: STS-109 Mission Specialist Nancy Currie
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Question #6 Michael Massimino's Reply

From: Michael Massimino, Hunker, Pa., Age: 9
To: Mission Specialist Michael Massimino

Question: It is so neat to see someone in space with the same name as me. My third-grade class thinks that is really cool, too. My question is for Mike Massimino, astronaut: Please ask him what it was like to walk out into space for the first time.

Massimino: Well, for Michael J. Massimino - the same name as me, including the same middle initial - it is pretty cool to get a note from someone with the same name that I have from Hunker, Pa. It was really quite an experience. The first time, I was pretty nervous about it, but we've had some really good training. And I had a great partner with me - Jim Newman - and a great team inside. The other space walkers, John Grunsfeld and Rick Linnehan, were keeping an eye on us, and we had Digger here looking after us, Nancy flying me around on the arm most of the day, and Scooter - our commander - looking out for me too, and plus all the folks on the ground. So, that made me feel a lot better about it. And it was just an awesome feeling. Our training was really good. It got us ready. I felt very familiar with all the tasks, but where we train, they leave out one major event. And that is the view and the experience of actually being - really being - in space. That was the added feature to it that was just really awesome. To be able to do it in space, and to be able to look down at the Earth every once in a while and see it go by was just an awesome experience. It's something I'll never forget. It was just a great opportunity, and I'm glad that the space walks went well.

Image: STS-109 Mission Specialist Michael Massimino
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Question #7 Michael Massimino's Reply

From: Bill Cruikshank, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Age: 43
To: Mission Specialist Michael Massimino

Question: This morning, Astronauts Mike Massimino and Jim Newman performed a 7-hour, 16-minute excursion. This is a long time! How do you obtain nourishment and fluids during the space walk?

Massimino: We eat as much as we can before we go out, and then we have a drink bag with us that we can fill up with about 32 ounces of water that we can have with us, and that keeps us in good shape for the EVA.

Image: STS-109 Mission Specialist Michael Massimino, left, and Pilot Duane Carey
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Question #8 John Grunsfeld's Reply

From: David Tonner, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Age: 42
To: Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld

Question: When exiting the shuttle for a space walk, do you sense a temperature change?

Grunsfeld: David, that's a great question. The temperature in space is kind of hard to define 'cause there aren't very many molecules on which temperature is defined. But we certainly do radiate in our space suits and we certainly generate a lot of heat inside. So it kind of depends on what your workload is and whether it's day or night. I find that at nighttime my hands and feet do get a little cold, and to compensate, we have heaters on the gloves. And then during the daytime or when I'm working hard -- I get nice and toasty inside the suit -- we have a little thermostat that we use to adjust the temperature so that we can make sure and stay cold. Good question!

Image: STS-109 Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld
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Question #9 John Grunsfeld's Reply

From: Robert White, Carroll, Ohio, U.S.A., Age: 32
To: Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld

Question: Are the suits used for space walking still custom made for the individual crewmember as they were in the Apollo missions and early shuttle missions?

Grunsfeld: Robert, the suits are not custom made anymore. In fact, they come in a few sizes. And each of the parts of the suits -- like the arms, and legs, and boots and gloves -- have adjustments on them. So we are able to find a good fit for the suits by picking and choosing the right suit parts. Everybody on this mission was in a large part upper torso, but each of us had different-size lower torso assemblies, gloves and arms.

Image: STS-109 Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld
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Question #10 Scott Altman's Reply

From: Dave Aprile, San Bernardino, Calif., Age: 55
To: Commander Scott Altman

Question: Does the shuttle crew use GPS or star sightings to be sure that it knows where it is on orbit? Or is this handled by the ground?

Altman: The answer is yes. We use all three. We have onboard GPS that we're still incorporating. We have star trackers that align our IMUs based on that. Plus, the ground handles state vectors and makes sure that everything is all working together. So it's a big team effort between all three different aspects.

Image: STS-109 Commander Scott Altman
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Send a question to MCC or the CrewPAGE: 1 2 3

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 05/11/2006
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