Second International Space Station Crew Heads Back to Earth
August 19, 2001
Author: Jim Voss, Astronaut
I had another fine day at two hundred miles above the Earth. I woke up this morning and took the usual body measurements. My muscles are holding up quite well according to my calf diameter. That's probably because I had exercised nearly two hours a day on the treadmill and exercise bike. Then I prepared scrambled eggs from dry mix, made orange juice from a
dehydrated powder, and rehydrated a dried sausage. Afterwards, I went to use the Electron unit (toilet), which is quite useful in that it distills water from my urine and separates the water, using electricity, into hydrogen and oxygen. It disposes of the hydrogen and adds the oxygen into the station's atmosphere.
I flew over to where Yuri and Dan were and saw them admiring the view of Earth. "We've been watching Mount Etna and had some spectacular views of just thunderous, billowing clouds of smoke. Smoke had come shooting out of the volcano...hitting the troposphere and then flattening out like a pancake. It was really spectacular!,'' said Dan, who had just arrived six days ago on the Discovery Shuttle. They had come to bring the third crew to the Station and bring us back to Earth. We were heading back tomorrow. The Shuttle was pretty useful these days, transporting us people and equipment every few months or so. It would eventually bring the scientific experiments and other parts of the Station, which should be completed in 2006.
Moscow soon beamed up twenty minutes of local radio. I've been picking up some Russian from Yuri and I could understand some of the words of the Russian DJ now. I then did a flip and landed on the ceiling, where the computer was. My senses readjusted themselves and it felt like the ground again. I saw that I had an email from my wife and daughter, "Dad we miss you dearly. We can't wait till you get back on Wednesday."
I exercised again after dinner and was ready to get some shut-eye. Strapping myself onto the wall, I suddenly realized how fortunate I was to be one of the first space dwellers. To wake up every day and see Earth from the window, and know that six billion of my fellow species live down there. I became dreamy and saw visions of travels to further places than the orbit of Earth, or the moon. I imagined myself living on Mars, and seeing Earth, much smaller now. Then I saw myself in another star system, on another stranger planet. Earth, there, was a barely visible glimmer in the ocean of stars. Then, I fell asleep.