Comings and Goings

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Peoplealways ask if it gets boring up here.  Ican unequivocally say NEVER!  It seems like something is alwayshappening.  We were talking about all the activities we do in one day, andhow they can range from vacuuming, to changing out the toilet can, to drawingblood, taking acoustic measurements, to ultra sounding your heart, to capturingan HTV, to unpacking and repacking, to doing a SPRINT exercise, to doing aspacewalk!  Last week we did lots of science while vehicles were comingand going – it doesn’t get much better.

We havebeen busy so I haven’t had much dedicated window time and I will confess, myspace photography skills are not where they need to be – I am working on it butthis planet turns and we fly over it so fast… 

Some of What We Did Last Week:

SPRINTIntegrated Resistance and Aerobic Training Study

SPRINTis an exercise protocol that consists of sprinting workouts on the treadmill, 8x 30-second sprints, 6 x 2-minute sprints, or 4 x 4-minute sprints.  Thesereally kicked my butt and got my heart rate up in the 180s.  This protocolalso involves heavy lifting, but we are still trying to figure out the rightamount of weight to do these sets with.  

The ARED(Advanced Resistive Exercise Device) is amazing (more below). It can do barexercises and rope exercises.  It is free floating so we don’t put loadsinto the ISS, just like the treadmill and the bike.  If they didn’t havevibration isolation systems associated with the exercise equipment, the ISSwould feel lots of stresses, particularly on the solar arrays that are huge and“outboard.”  Hence a huge moment arm of force would cause them to bedamaged. 

Ultrasound

Weultrasound our hearts both resting and during exercise (Joe and I didthis).  We ultrasound our legs to see muscle size and development forSPRINT (above).  We ultrasound our carotid artery, our portal vein andgall bladder, our kidney arterial and veins, our femoral artery and our tibialvein.  These are for an experiment called vessel imaging so the investigator can make a 3Dimage.  Pretty cool to look inside ourselves!  I didn’t see anythingI wasn’t supposed to see.

Exercising on ARED

 Exercise

Aki andI have ramped up our exercise, and are doing regular twice daily workouts – oneaerobic, one resistive with “weights.”  The Advanced Resistive ExerciseDevice, ARED,  allows us to really get a goodworkout for things like squats and dead lifts.  These are most importantbecause we immediately start losing bone and muscle mass up here.  Thisdevice has been awesome since it got here. It works on the concept of pushingagainst a vacuum, and it is very effective. 

 Acoustic Measurement

 Theseare a periodic measurement on ourselves and in different parts of the ISS torecord the amount and types of noises we hear all day long. 

Maintenance & Housekeeping

We hadto clean house and organize before we got a bunch more stuff – HTV is here sowe have to make room for all of her stuff too.

 Fire Drill

Reviewedof all emergency equipment and, just like in elementary school, we had a firedrill.  We went through all our procedures to make sure we know who wasdoing what and how the control centers would act and help us.

HTV

Preparations for HTV (The JapanAerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3)

We cleanedup the cupola and installed computers, reviewed our procedures and practiced onour simulator we have here as a crew of three.  Everyone has a role andresponsibility and it is best to make sure we all know what to expect.  Wepracticed all this on Earth before we came up here, but the real robotic armand the real vehicle make you want to practice a little more before it allhappens.

The HTVcame in close and just stopped!  It was amazing, and the vehicle isbeautiful.  Joe drove the arm perfectly over the grapple pin    and we grabbed her.  It wasawesome. 

Then,the ground “flew” HTV with the robotic arm close to the docking port.  Akitook over from there and “mated” the HTV to the docking port.  The groundcrew and I drove the latches and bolts (thru computer commands) to connect theHTV to the ISS.  Next we had to pressurize the vestibule between thedocking port hatch and the HTV hatch so we could open them both and getin.  Lots of pressure checks and time to make sure there aren’t anyleaks!  

Spidernauts

Weopened the hatch to HTV and started unloading.  One of the first thingsunstowed was a payload from the winner of a YouTube Spacelab contest.  Thousands of kids from all over the world submittedbiology and physics experiments via a 2-minute YouTube video.  Two of themwere lucky enough to come to the ISS to be tested by the crew. 

Wepulled out the first one, and we now have a zebra and a red-backed spider uphere in their habitats.  The spidernauts did a great job through launchand their first days in space.  They seem to be adapting (like I know whatthat feels like for a spider).  But their food, fruit flies, seemed to behaving a slightly more difficult time.  “Flying” by flapping your wingsdoesn’t quite work up here.  They were flapping around and justfloating.  They were bouncing off the glass, but could cling on to thewood, which makes up the wall of the habitat.  Very interesting to watch.

Breakfast burrito and coffee!

 Food 

Lastly, space food is space food, but it is good.  I must be getting usedto it because I didn’t lose any weight these first weeks.  I’m alsogetting used to HOW to eat it again. This isn’t always an easy proposition inspace. Yes, stuff sticks together, but it isn’t like you have these things on aplate. You have to meticulously and tenderly put stuff together so it doesn’tfly away.  On Sunday, I had time to work my magic and imitate a BreakfastBurrito. That, along with some Kona coffee with cream and sugar (in a bag) wasquite satisfying!

Suni’s blog also appears at http://www.fragileoasis.org/bloggernauts/sunita-williams/posts/.