Interview from Space Shuttle 'Atlantis'

space station space shuttle Atlantis crews 175x133 Reuters
Melissa McDermott: First of all congratulations to all of you on the successful installation of the airlock. Now with that said Lt. Col. Lindsey, you ran into some problems yesterday with the airlock. The valve between the airlock and the station is leaking. How serious is this?

Steven Lindsey: Well, we’re looking at that right now. We’ve been doing leak check procedures today, running through a number of maintenance steps with the ground. We’re trying to figure exactly what is going on with it. I believe we are probably going to take it out and maybe replace it. I think we’ll probably fix it and figure it out. Just a small snag, but we’ll carry on.

MM: You’re going to use the new airlock on Thursday when Mike and Jim carryout the third and final spacewalk. Is this in jeopardy in anyway because of the leak?

Charles Hobaugh: Not at all. We’ve had contingency, the capability to due that 30 via a shuttle airlock if need be. We’ve been trying real hard to make sure we get the ISS installed right after this next DVA so that we can make sure all the systems work, check it out, and exercise the new pre-reed protocol. We’re really hot on trying to get the ISS airlock set so we can do it, but if we can’t get it ready in time then we can always go out of the shuttle. So it is really no problem.

MM: You’re the rookie up there. This is your first time in space. Let us live vicariously through you. Tell us what it was like the fist time you realized you are actually up in space?

CH: I’ve got to tell you it was like living a dream. It was like it wasn’t happening at all. The one memory that I do have and that I never expected was as soon as we had main engine cut off , we’re in zero G. It was almost like everything was in slow motion. I looked back behind me and Mike and Jim are getting ready to photos of the external tank since we had really good day conditions for that nd we started reconfiguring things and we got that light floating feeling that is just really strange seeing everybody float around and doing things. That feeling almost made you feel that everything was in slow motion.

MM: Are there any fears or anything in the back of your mind that your thinking I hope this doesn’t happen?

CH: Not at all. It was the most pleasurable experience I’ve ever had and there was never any down side to it or never any fear. In fact, we all were talking before launch it’s like shouldn’t we be worried about anything? Shouldn’t we have any sort of anxiety ? It was just relaxed. We had a great time from the time we began training until this moment and I am sure it will continue from here.

MM: Commander Usachev you’ve spent 385 days in space and much of that time on Mere. How does the International Space Station compare?

Yuri Usachev: This station is very similar. Now we have longer stations then w had before. Now I like this station better, it is more internationally based.

MM: Commander Usachev do you miss the earth at all? Is there a reason your staying away from the earth?

YU: Well, I choose to fly. Of course I miss my family and my friends., but it’s ok it was my choice. I don’t travel often. When you’re in space, space is your like your family.

MM: From the moment you all arrived you’ve been extremely busy. Sometimes from the ground it seems like you are overloaded with everything you try to get done. Do you ever feel that?

Steven Lindsey: Actually, Charlie and I talking a little bit about that today and at least for the shuttle crew when you first get up on orbit we had a bunch of things to do. Part of it is getting your space legs and learniing how to do things. We have a very busy time line and we thought we were behind the whole time. Anytime you have a problem that puts you behind even more. So we are marching to the clock to get the airlock installed, but we’ve notice as the days have gone by each day seems to get progressively just a little bit easier. I don’t think the workload is decreasing, but our adaptation is increasing. One thing that is unique is when you get up here and you watch Jim Voss, Susan Helms and Yuri work, you can tell they’ve been in space for a few months and we’ve only been here for a few days . They are very well adapted and work very well so the pace has been busy, we’ve been very busy and it will continue to be busy, but that is just the nature of an assembly flight. Our number one goal is to get all of our objectives accomplished, but Yuri and I watch the pace to make sure that nobody is getting overloaded or getting to tired.

MM: To the two American astronauts, do you wish that your names were better known by Americans, kind of like John Glenn and Neil Armstrong? Do you wish you were more of a household name?

Charlie Hobaugh: I just like to blend in the background and not be known and certainly we’re not the kind of astronauts that I’d put John Glenn and Neil Armstrong in the category of. I think as far as we’re concerned we’re just another in a long line of astronauts that are out there hoping to fly and coming up to fly and are just excited to be a part of the action.

Steven Lindsey: For my part, especially this being my third flight, what I am most interested in is being up here and getting the mission accomplished. That is what probably gives me the most satisfaction. The public recognition is not something that I came to the program for. So, it really doesn’t bother me at all what all of us get satisfaction is getting the job done.

MM: Gentleman, thank you very much and we wish you continued success in your mission.