Thursday, July 30, 2009

Live in Orbit: Crew shares experiences

"This was an extremely challenging mission," veteran astronaut Mark Polansky, Endeavour's commander, said during a media interview this morning. "I'm glad it looked easy, but I can assure you it was not."

After two weeks in space and five spacewalks, Polansky added that his crew was ready to come home Friday morning. "You gear yourselves psychologically for what you're supposed to do, so it is time to come back."

Asked about his task vigorously vacuuming the station, astronaut Chris Cassidy, a Navy Seal, explained: “The dust that settles on the flat surfaces on Earth gets everywhere here."

Veteran Spacewalker David Wolf said that during the mission he heard different music and different languages from the Canadian, Russian, European, Japanese and U.S. astronauts.

"There was a real international flavor to this mission," said the lead spacewalker. "We watched some rookies evolve into very talented astronauts."

Pilot Douglas Hurley enjoyed his chance to fly Endeavour after undocking. "It flew better than the simulator. The simulator never prepares you for the views," said Hurley, noting a sunset on the station as the shuttle departed. "That's one of the highlights."

Flight engineer Julie Payette of the Canadian Space Agency said the station did not seem crowded, even with 13 people aboard. "That was the beauty of the ISS. It is immense. That is exactly what it was designed for. We could spread out."

Payette added that the shuttle crew, while ready to come home, had the same thought upon leaving the station. "Yes, you'd like to come back to the ISS," she said.

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