Click on the image to hear Expedition Four Flight Engineer
Daniel W. Bursch's greeting (148 Kb).
120 Day Report
Monday, 18 March 2002
GMT 077 / 2002
2 p.m. Houston, 11 p.m. Moscow
Time on orbit: 102 days, 21 hours 40 minutes
Saturday, 6 April 2002
GMT 096 / 2002
8 a.m. Houston, 5 p.m. Moscow
Time on orbit: 121 days, 15 hours 40 minutes
As you can
see from the times above, I started this note soon after our 100th
day in orbit. I had hoped to make this a "100 day report,"
but it has turned into the "120 day report!" In this report
I hope to give you a feel for what it has been like the past 120
days for a "first time" expedition crew member.
of Endeavour, STS-108/UF-1: December 5, 2001
The launch was the first time for me on the middeck and from there
our view is a row of lockers with no outside reference. It surprised
me that I noticed the roll shortly after liftoff more than I remember
when I was on the flight deck, where we can see outside through
the forward and overhead windows.
phase was very high paced and things did not slow down until the
Shuttle undocked. When the Shuttle is docked, there is always a
limited time in which to accomplish everything (hand-over, transfer,
robotics), so there was always the pressure of doing all of the
assigned tasks as well as "handing over" with Expedition
Three before the hatches closed for the last time. Yuri told us
that it would be a strange feeling when the Shuttle undocked and
we were the only ones left. It was like a fast paced family reunion
that suddenly came to an end. It also felt like the first day of
a Naval deployment where we knew that we just started a long journey
and couldn't even begin to imagine the end. The pace did slow a
bit for the holidays, but quickly picked up again as we prepared
for two space walks (EVA's) in January, as well as completed unloading
of the "Progress" (Russian cargo ship).
"Us" on Station
The holidays were a nice break from the rapid pace of a Shuttle
mission. I kept thinking about what several experienced expedition
crew members had told me; the Shuttle mission is a sprint, and the
Station mission is a marathon. Of course, being away from family
during the holidays is always tough. It was very hard for me to
be away from my family, but I couldn't help but think of all of
the service men and women that were away from their families as
well. And I also couldn't help but think about the tens of thousands
of people that were missing friends and family over the holidays
because of the terrorist acts of September 11th. And for them there
would be no future reunion. I suddenly felt very fortunate to have
a healthy family on Earth, knowing that they were sharing the holidays
with loved ones.
We spent most
of the holidays catching up on sleep, writing e-mail, watching movies
and calling friends and family using an internet phone application
that uses our high-data rate communication system, otherwise known
as "Ku" (frequency band in which it operates). It was
very special to be able to call family and friends, but what became
most entertaining were peoples' reactions when we said we were calling
from space! I didn't expect to get the chance to talk to so many
visiting relatives of my friends on Earth!
Our days are based on "Universal Time" (Greenwich Mean
Time) and start with an 0600 wakeup and end at 2130. Sometimes we
shift our schedule to adjust to another upcoming event, such as
a Russian EVA, Shuttle docking, or Soyuz docking. We do this to
either maintain good coverage over Russian communication sites or
to line up our schedule with a visiting vehicle (whose workdays
are determined by their launch time, which is determined by our
Each day we
get several messages that we need to read that are part of a daily
"execute package." We access everything through one of
the many laptops we have, and can print something if desired. We
also review daily news and we need to import files that update our
"inventory management system." We have a computer-based
system that keeps track of everything on board. Without such an
accounting system, most of our time would be spent hunting for some
piece of equipment that got stuffed behind a panel by a previous
crew…or by ourselves, just like you might misplace something
at home. Unlike at home, however, we know that it is "in the
Between 0600 and 0800 we read the daily mail, power up and/or restart
some of the two dozen computers we have, "wash" up, eat
breakfast, review the day's schedule and prepare any questions we
may have for a morning conference with our teams on the ground in
Houston (U.S. Mission Control), Huntsville (Payload Operations Control
Center) and Moscow (Russian Mission Control), as they prepare questions
and notes for us. We usually have about 2.5 hours of exercise every
day and an hour for lunch. Breakfast and dinner do not show on our
daily electronic schedule, but we do have time reserved after wakeup
and before sleep for those meals. We usually try to fit dinner in
between 1730 and 1830.
We have a combination
of Russian and American food and it provides us with quite a large
assortment. Yury said that our tastes would gradually change and
he was right. The spicy food, like shrimp cocktail, is not so spicy
anymore. The teriyaki chicken tastes just a bit different. I was
used to tastes changing during Shuttle flights, but those changes
I could associate mainly with how a "stuffy head" can affect your
taste when you cannot smell as well. Also, some foods that we really
liked on Earth are suddenly not appealing anymore. I am glad that
we have such an assortment to choose from! Yury says that our tastes
will continue to change. I still can't wait to try some pizza when
Our daily activities
include maintenance (preventive and when something breaks unexpectedly),
experiments/payloads, inventory audits, taking pictures inside and
outside. Depending on future events, we may operate the SSRMS (Station
robot arm) and/or study material for upcoming space walks or robotic
activity. Our "planning team" assembles all of these varied
activities on the ground. I am constantly amazed at how they can
put together so many activities while working with three different
centers, different time zones and different languages! I really
enjoy taking pictures of our beautiful planet. The best days are
when I have accomplished everything on the schedule, plus a little
bit more, and I've been able to take several pictures throughout
the day!! A few times I was disappointed that I missed taking a
picture, but now I understand that on an expedition flight there
will always be another chance!
One morning I happened to be up early. I glanced at our world map
and saw that we'd be passing near Mt. Everest soon. I checked the
computer, realized that we were in an attitude that would allow
me to open the window shutter and there was Mt. Everest! It almost
seemed to jump out at me. The low sun angle (it was close to orbital
sunrise) gave tremendous relief to the mountains. It was just one
of those sights that will be forever burned into my brain!
photo of the Himalayas and Mount Everest was downlinked with
the original document containing the 120 day report.|
Flying through Station is more fun than I thought it would be. We
fly like Superman from one end to the other, being careful to know
when to slow down and what big pieces of structure to miss (if you
hit something hard, it still hurts!). We get to know our favorite
handrails and paths from one place to another. After a month I tried
using the ceiling. It seemed as though I had discovered another
new Station! Everything looked different from the ceiling view,
and I discovered that in some ways it was a better route (better
hand-holds, fewer obstructions)! It still is a little disorienting
when I am upside down and try to instantly decide which way to turn,
but I am learning!
trick is to "fly formation." Pick something to translate
with, then let it go and fly on its "wing." You really
have to watch out how fast you go…stopping can get pretty messy
sometimes! My grandmother used to say "The faster I go, the
behinder I get!" That is also true for flying in space! That
idea came in handy during the EVA's.
Space Walk: January 25, 2002
I was a little nervous before my first space walk. I took that as
a good sign. I felt it helped me stay on my toes a little more and
take it slowly. In the weeks prior, I asked several other folks
who had been on space walks before for their advice. The most common
advice was to "take it slow" and/or "not to go fast, slow down."
Things move in response to an outside force. The more force you
use, the faster it will accelerate. You control best by slowing
down. I am thankful for the advice!
EVA suit (Orlan) and U.S. EVA suit (EMU) provide the same basic
capabilities, but have some important differences. Each suit reflects
the mission for which they were designed: the Orlan for a crew of
two and less pre-breathe requirements, and the EMU for a larger
crew and for tasks requiring more dexterity. Because we go to a
much lower pressure in the space suits, we have "pre-breathe" requirements
to prevent the bends or decompression sickness, the same things
that concern scuba divers. We are at risk at the beginning of our
"dive," where divers are at risk at the end of theirs. The Station
is pressurized close to sea level, about 14.7 psi. The Orlan is
pressurized to about 5.6 psi and the EMU to about 4.3 psi. Lower
pressure means more mobility and dexterity, but the disadvantage
is a longer pre-breathe protocol. The Orlan prebreathe is shorter,
but the suit is harder to work in as we are working against higher
of the Orlan include faster donning and it is also designed to be
"self-donning." You enter the suit through the back and
you can close the back without assistance. All of the Orlans are
nearly identical with the exception of gloves. Sizing is accomplished
through sizing straps in the arms and legs, and can be done in about
The EMU is
pressurized to 4.3 psi and we need someone to help us put it on.
It is nearly "custom fit," but the size can be changed
using different sizing rings. In fact, I used the same suit that
Dan Tani used on UF-1 but with different sized arms, legs and gloves.
During STS-110 (8A), Rex Walheim will use the suit I used, with
again different sizing and different gloves. The lower pressure
in the EMU makes working in the suit easier and the gloves give
you better dexterity.
Space Walk: February 20, 2002
In January Houston told us that Carl and I would get the opportunity
to go outside again, but this time in the U.S. suit, or "EMU." Many
people on the ground worked endless hours preparing us for this
walk. Not only did they send up procedures and pictures, but they
also sent up special files that we used in a software program called
"DOUG" that allowed us to perform our EVA on a laptop. It has the
same graphics used in a "Virtual Reality Laboratory" at the Johnson Space Center, where we had trained for EVA's and robotics before
launch. We had several weeks to prepare equipment and ourselves
for the walk. It was the second time that the U.S. airlock had been
used and the first time by a Station crew without the Shuttle present
(often called a "deferred EVA"). We did a dry-run of the procedures
the week before, worked out some kinks, then went out for real a
few days later. Yury suited us up and then passed over the communication
to Joe Tanner who acted as our "IVA" during the walk. Yury was inside
controlling cameras, much like I did when he and Carl went out on
their EVA mid-January. It was very successful and, once again, we
are very thankful to our great team on the ground that prepared
us and guided us through the EVA.
I felt more
comfortable during this walk, perhaps because of the extra mobility
of the EMU; perhaps because I had more experience in the EMU. I
wasn't as tired as I was after the Orlan. Having both suits on board
gives us some flexibility that will no doubt come in handy in the
future. In fact, one could say that the quick-donning and short
pre-breathe features of the Orlan already was demonstrated when
Expedition 3 had to do an EVA prior to our launch on STS-108. They
removed part of a seal that was preventing a Progress from docking
One very important aspect of long duration space flight are the
mental challenges associated with living in the same "can"
with two other people. I finally realized the other day that living
in the same enclosure with two other people for more than three
months is a pretty unique experience. Working closely with someone
is a big jump from an acquaintance. Living with someone is a big
jump from working with them. And living and working together with
only two other people for several months is yet another big jump.
If you have a bad day, you can't just go for a walk. I have come
to accept that all of us will have (and have had) good days and
bad days. Frank Culbertson told us some good advice…some days
you just need "to let go"…meaning (I think!!) that
sometimes some things will get to you…but you have to let them
go. And soon you will realize how insignificant they are and will
probably laugh that they even bothered you in the first place. But
I have also found that it is important to let the others know when
something bothers you, because just like any other relationship…whether
with a friend or spouse…if you let things go all the time,
they will collect inside and always come out at the wrong time.
So, the balancing act of life is the same in space as it is on Earth!!
It was fun following the STS-109/Hubble mission. The ground sent
up daily reports on their progress and we were also able to watch
their launch real-time via a live video feed over the Ku band to
one of our computers. We also got to talk to them after their EVA's.
It was neat knowing that for a short time there were 10 people in
space…and even though we were in very different orbits, I felt
somehow closer to them knowing that we were in "space"
together. It is also hard to believe that their mission has come
We just got news that our Shuttle flight home has been delayed about
one month. That should send us over the six-month mark and we should
break Shannon Lucid's U.S. record of 188 continuous days in space.
That feels nice to be able to share in a record…but I sure
do miss my family. During a deployment in the Navy, it is difficult
to return home, but it is always possible. It is definitely different
when your only ride home is with a spacecraft that also happens
to be your only lifeboat when the Shuttle isn't present. Again,
though, I think of all the men and women serving our country that
are deployed right now in far way places, and my job seems pretty
easy. I also know that the immediate families of these people have
perhaps the toughest job. And I know without a doubt that my wife
has the toughest job between the two of us with three little ones
Ship Arrives: March 26, 2002
Every four to six months a Russian unmanned cargo ship,
called a "Progress," arrives bringing supplies including fresh fruit
and care packages from home. When I was on a Naval deployment on
the carrier, I remembered that we always knew when the "Carrier
On-board Delivery" airplane, or COD, landed on board. Its arrival
was announced over the loudspeaker, including how much mail was
on board. It was also nice after we did underway replenishment (UNREP)
with other cargo ships because it usually included fresh food. My
experience on carriers was all before e-mail and phones on ships.
I was amazed at how much I anticipated the arrival of this Progress.
I thought that because we had e-mail and the "phone," that I wouldn't
think the Progress was such a big deal…but it was! I underestimated
how much I would anticipate the arrival of fresh fruit and care
packages…something from Earth…something from home…that my friends
and family had touched not too long ago!!
approach and docking is automatic, but the crew can take over and
complete the docking remotely if something doesn't look right during
the approach. We simply follow the approach based on time and do
our best to follow the vehicle with cameras located inside and outside.
Yuri and Carl stood by the "TORU" remote control system
on board and were ready to take over if necessary. Everything went
well and after pressure checks we opened the hatch about midnight.
I felt as if it was Christmas morning! Everything was tightly packed,
but we managed to get to our care packages after about an hour.
I honestly forgot that we hadn't been visited for the past three
months…and something "fresh" from home was VERY welcome!!
We got new books on CD, cards, letters, pictures and some new DVD's.
Launch: April 4, 2002
Today is the scheduled launch of STS-110, which will be bringing
up the S-zero truss segment. It will form the backbone of the truss
structure that will eventually hold the four solar array "wings"
of the U.S. segment. I am very much looking forward to the arrival
of Atlantis and her crew. They promise to bring new care packages
from home, fresh "smells" of the Earth and old friends.
We know that the work pace will once again speed up, but we are
ready! We worked many hours together on the ground developing procedures
to use the Space Station robotic arm (SSRMS) as a "cherry picker"
as we maneuver space walkers "flying" on the end of the
arm. This will be the first time that this new arm will be used
in such a capacity. The SSRMS will first be used to install the
S-zero truss, then we will continue to use it for all 4 space walks.
Later, we heard
that the launch was delayed. It is disappointing, but I am fairly
familiar with launch delays and understand what the crew is feeling
right now. There are many things that need to come together before
the SRB's ignite. Some we can control, some we can't.
As we await
the arrival of Atlantis, I wish all of you a great weekend!
April 6, 2002