Another milestone of our Expedition has been completed – thearrival of HTV3 and the undocking and redocking of 47P (Russian Progressvehicle). What you quickly realize here is that the passing of amilestone is quickly followed by the approach of another. Today, Sunday,we will relax and enjoy a day of rest. Tomorrow we will begin preparationfor the final departure of Progress 47P, the arrival of Progress 48P, the longtask of unloading and then loading HTV3 and the upcoming Russian and US Spacewalksfollowed by HTV3 departure and then my trip home. As you can see it is anever ending string of diverse activities.
I am commonly asked “What is a typical day like on theISS? What do you do every day?” These are difficult questions toanswer. I can say that there are a few constants in my day. Iusually wake up around 6am; clean myself up, have breakfast, lunch and dinnerand somewhere in between workout before going to bed around 10pm. It iswhat occurs around those activities that makes this job interesting,challenging, stressful and fun. Diversity. If you are someone thatlikes to know what you are going to be doing every day, this job would driveyou crazy. On Saturdays, we get a general idea of what we will be doingduring the upcoming week. Here are few of the things I have done in thepast 2 weeks since I have written last. Various science experiments,Soyuz seat fit check, 31 Soyuz arrival with the new crew, HTV3 preparation(actually flying the arm to practice grappling the vehicle and lots simulatortime), public affairs interviews and recordings, HAM radio contacts, toiletmaintenance (I am now very familiar with our system), emergency simulationswith the crew and the mission control centers, periodic medical exams (bothphysical and mental), controlled diets, ARED (exercise device) maintenance,urine bag usage (again), blood draws (both as a subject and operator), airquality monitoring, transfer and consolidation of supplies, filter cleaning(which means vacuuming), ultrasounds (again, both as a subject and anoperator), and the capture and berthing of HTV3. Our planners and flightcontrol teams have a tough job.
On any given day, you can go from conducting a technicalscience experiment, to talking to school kids, to vacuuming, to drawing bloodfrom a crew mate. The tasks range from things I would do at home on aSunday morning (no, not drawing blood) to grappling a visiting vehicle loadedwith supplies with a robotic arm. While some are more exciting thanothers, because of the environment we are working in all require mentalfocus. I just received an email from a friend of mine that recentlyreturned from a 10-day canoe trip in Alaska. Everything did not go as plannedand there were quite a few unexpected surprises, which make for a greatadventure. While he had the best time, when he finally got off the riverhe was not only physically tired but mentally exhausted. I told him thatworking on the ISS is kind of like his river trip. You have the best laidout plan but unexpected things happen that get your heart pumping. Youadjust and problem-solve and have the best time of your life. After arelaxing Sunday watching the Olympics, we will be ready to start up all overagain and see what adventures await us.
Joe’s blog also appears at http://www.fragileoasis.org/bloggernauts/joe-acaba/posts/.