gathered at the Exploratorium to hear our own science
writer, Mary Miller, speak live with astronauts on the
International Space Station. Click on the links below
to hear the conversations she had with astronauts Susan
Helms, Jim Voss, and commander Yuri Usachev about life
on the ISS.
Susan Helms, Yuri Usachev, Jim Voss
Commander Yuri Usachev
Miller talks with ISS Commander Yuri Usachev.
EXPLORATORIUM: Yuri, after all the training youve
had to prepare for living in space, is there anything
that surprised you about being on the International
YURI: Yeah, every time I look at the window its
a big surprise to me, and it gets your attention every
time and every minute, and never
you can never
see in it the same picture because its different
clouds and new place. Maybe earth in the window, its
the [...unintelligible...], the biggest surprise to
Engineer Jim Voss
Jim Voss talks about life aboard the space station.
EXPLORATORIUM: Jim, I wanted to ask you
a little bit about the physical environment on the space
station. Is it cramped or comfortable? Whats it
like living there? Is there
is there anything
thats different about being in this kind of laboratory
than, say, working in a laboratory on earth?
JIM: Well, actually, we have a lot of space onboard
the space station. Its about 100 meters long.
And in the laboratory module, where were standing
right now, its maybe 15 meters long by 2-1/2 meters
wide, and 2-1/2 meters tall. It is very spacious, and
we feel like we have lots and lots of room. Its
like a laboratory on earth, in that theres a lot
of scientific equipment all around us. The difference
is that we use all four walls, and we work on the ceiling
sometimes and sometimes on the floor, and of course
on both walls. And when we move our equipment around,
its just really easy to move it, floating it from
place to place.
Engineer Susan Helms (NASA
Engineer Susan Helms talks about her space station "family."
Susan, I have a question. Jim told us a little bit earlier
that the space station is actually quite spacious. Im
wondering, as a woman, what its like for you to
be up there working. You know, it is a confined space
with two men, and whether that is different than your
experiences working in the Air Force?
SUSAN: I cant say that theres any trouble
at all. This is like living with a family, two brothers
and a sister. And its really not been a problem
at all. Like Jim said, we have plenty of space in any
case, but even if we didnt like on the
shuttle, there isnt hardly any space at all. You
can think of it as being something not unlike a camping
trip with your family. And you basically do have just
enough privacy that you need, in order to use the toilet
without other people looking in on you, and, and thats
really the only true requirement, and the rest of it
just sorts itself out without any trouble.
about what Susan Helms misses most in space.
Susan, what do you miss most about being up on the International
Space Station, what do you miss most from earth?
SUSAN: Well, I do miss my family quite a bit. I have
a very wonderful familymy parents, my sisters,
and their husbands and children. And I miss them very
much, as well as all my friends. And the funny thing
is I also miss driving my car. For some reason, that
seems to be something I wish I could do.
Helms talks about the best and worst parts of living
EXPLORATORIUM: Susan, I want to know from you, what
are the best and worst parts of living in space?
SUSAN: Well, I think one of the best parts is to actually
be a part of a team thats doing human exploration
beyond the planet. Not a lot of people get to do that,
and its an extremely unique experience, and I
couldnt have done it with a better group of people,
including the team on the ground thats supporting
us. One of the worst parts, of course, is that there
are a lot of people that have helped us get here that
I cant personally thank face to face right now
because were here and theyre there with
you on the planet. So we do miss the opportunity to
be able to shake peoples hands and give people
hugs and let them know how much they mean to us.
what Engineer Jim Voss says hell miss most when
he leaves the International Space Station.
EXPLORATORIUM: Jim, Susan told us what she misses most
about earth. Im wondering what you think you think
youll miss most when you come down from the International
JIM: Well, I think there are several things. One of
them, of course, is the beautiful view of the earth
that we have up here thats quite unique and we
cant really capture with photography. The other
thing is the floating experience and how unique that
is. Then Ill miss my crewmates and the unique
camaraderie that we have up here, living and working
together in this small space
the space station.
how the ISS crew protect themselves from radiation.
(Images of the ISS astronauts courtesy of NASA)