Week 7 – Happy Labor Day – All About Going Outside

Hi Everyone –

We have been pretty much up to our ears in EVA, extravehicular activity or spacewalking preparations and then spacewalking!  I think most of you know we had a spacewalk using the robotic arm Thursday.  It went sort of long, so I am sorry if we bored you guys.  I am just amazed to hear that my parents watched the entire thing.  Gorby was at their sides…fast asleep, but right there too.  I heard a couple others were streaming the NASA channel all day too – thanks for your support and I hope we provided you a reason to blow off working…

So, you don’t just “go outside.”  Usually that is the fun and easy part of the entire thing.  The days leading up to the EVA are the intense days with battery charging, METOX(CO2 removal cartridge) regenerations, suit sizing, tool gathering and preparations (tool named Gorby),

equipment gathering and preparations (man of mystery),

studying new procedures, reviewing and talking thru how to get us suited and how to get the airlock depressed, reviewing the tasks we will do with each other and with the robotic arm, talking about cleaning up, and then talking thru a plan to get back into the airlock and any emergencies that can come up – loss of communications, suit issues, etc.  Yes, that took a lot of our time leading up to Thursday last week.  Even planning when to go to sleep and what to eat are important.  Remember, you are in that suit usually about 8 hours for a 6 hour EVA…

To  my surprise, the most intense part for this EVA happened to be outside when we encountered our “sticky” bolt.   That resulting in a long EVA and over 10 hours in the suit.  That meant, one long pee (one really good diaper) and no LUNCH during that time!   One lesson I should have remembered and learned from last time I was up here is – you can’t get married to a plan.  It always seems like something you thought was going to be difficult turns out to be easy, and something you thought was going to be easy turns out to be hard…why that is, who knows.  It is like when you are jogging on a lonely road, somehow cars going the opposite direction cross each other just when you are jogging next to them and there is a biker passing you – why?  Who knows!  But, that was the case with the “sticky bolt.”  We thought that part of the EVA was going to be easy – it ended up taking most of the our time.

One thing we sort of forget about is the environment outside when we are working inside, most of the time.  We get sort of used to this being a “static” environment – watching the world go by.  Well, it isn’t.  Space is busy, active and unkind.  It gets really hot and cold outside.  There are solar flares(makes nice auroras, but is radiation), solar wind and vacuum.  All this does on a number on a space craft and us.  It is amazing how you feel the sun set and rise thru your spacesuit – even with your eyes closed you would know it – you can feel the heating change!  Same goes for all the material on the “outside” of the station –  the metal in those bolts have probably “felt” the changes in the environment too – for the last 10 years.  The station has been thru a lot of heat cycles when you consider 16 day/night cycles in a 24 hour period!

After Thursday’s “experimentation with torque and bolt turns”, a ton of folks at JSC started working on a plan for the “next” EVA for us to go out and try again to move the bolt and install our box. They have been working all weekend and as a result we have learned some of the “nuances” with the mechanism that we weren’t aware of…so we are a lot smarter on how the bolt aligns and reacts.  They have given us a pretty inclusive plan on how to “try” to work it again, probably on Wednesday.  For us it has been like arts and crafts class with a little “motor head” thrown in there…we have been “making tools” to use outside to get the bolt and the housing ready to try again.  As many of you suggested, WD40 would do the trick, but getting a can of that stuff to work in space is sort of difficult.  So, we have a couple other tricks up our sleeve.  Tune in on Wednesday and check us out – Braycote is the lubricant of choice in this environment.  It worked to help the Solar Array Rotary Joint work better, so hopefully it will work to get this bolt installed!

I have to add, in case you were wondering, this isn’t just some sticky bolt either.  It connects a box which routes 25% of the power that comes to the station from our Solar Arrays.  So, a large amount of juice from the sun is not getting to us in this situation.  To add a little salt into the wound, we actually lost another part of a power channel Saturday night – a tripped circuit breaker way upstream toward the solar array.  So have to share it’s load with the other solar arrays too.  In NASA lingo, we are  getting close to “zero fault tolerant” – meaning no backups – on some of the stuff we power up.  So, it would be good if the box (power switching unit) with the sticky bolt got installed…

Geo Quiz:

Congratulations to Buff for recognizing Grand Island and Niagara Falls first.  Lots of you wrote in about the day time picture as I expected – many of you have been there.  By the way, doesn’t it seem like everyone knows someone from Ohio…somehow that state just seems to come up in every conversation…is it because people mover from there…not sure why…

The night time one was a little more difficult, no one even guessed!  It isn’t an easy target for us usually because we don’t fly directly overhead but we talk to people there every day!- it is Moscow!  Can you see the Garden Ring?

Only day this week – too many space pictures.

This week’s quiz is again quite easy – but brings back great memories for me and mike.  I remember getting an apple fritter from Dunkin’ Donuts here on our way to go camping and bow hunting all weekend.  It is where we learned to fly to infamous PHROG.  It is a beautiful place, but way overcrowded…

Things we did this week:  Get ready to play outside, get dressed to play outside, open the door, play outside, play outside, play outside…come back in, eat and go to sleep….

Almost sounds like a winter weekend day up in New England.  Getting dressed and making sure all your stuff has your name on it and is connected to you in case you drop it…

But first, we got to watch “our friend”

do some serious work.  This time he picked up a tissue and wiped a handrail.  However, we had to throw the tissue away for him.  He still doesn’t have legs and he can’t fly!!!! With that little trick in his repertoire, someone on the crew suggested we put him in the bathroom…hmmm…thinking Japanese toilets….

Back to everything being connected to you like mittens to your jacket…We have everything “tethered” when we go outside.  You don’t want to “drop” anything in space.  Somehow, it doesn’t stay near you when you drop it – it seems to float away.  And yes, I have first hand experience with this.  I did “lose” a camera on my very first EVA.  Not a good feeling to lose something – you ain’t getting it back!  So, lots of our prep time was tethering things, talking about tethering things, talking about how we would hand things off to each other and how to get it all back inside.  There is a lot of planning that goes on as you can see.  It really all comes down to skills in the end and being conscientious of where stuff it.  Losing stuff in space – in and out of the station is way too easy.

Pictures are better than words in some instances – this is one of those times…

Yuri gets us ready. During the “prebreathe” of 100% O2 to start purging Nitrogen out of our blood stream. About 2 hours before EVA starts.

Team EVA. Joe in his Peace Corp shirt as we get ready to lock all three of us in the airlock and depress to 10.2 PSI. Once we get to 10.2 psi we can take the masks off and Joe gets us in our suits. Once we are “buttoned up” in our suits we can repress the airlock to 14.7psi (station pressure), reopen the hatch to the rest of the station and we get ready to go into the crew lock to depress to vacuum. Decreased pressure allow us to increase the O2 concentrations around 25% to make sure we won’t get the bends in our suits.

Cuff checklist. Emergency Procedures (dog language here) in our “cuff checklist”. In case we have any suit problems, this checklist tells us what to do when we are “outside.”

Safer. Putting on the SAFER. It is our emergency jet pack that we can “fly” back to the station in case we become disconnected from the station – very unlikely since we use “safety tethers”. They are long cords on a fishing reel type mechanism that connecting us to the station like a rock climbing safety rope.

Space Virgin. Aki getting ready to go “outside” for the first time.

Not such a virgin. I got to come in and out of the airlock way too many times this EVA to retrieve tools to help fix the sticky bolt. No, not my first time in space, but just as exciting as the first time!

Aki on the arm. He was on the robotic arm for quite some time…probably the longest ever! He rode it from the top of the station down close to the airlock and then back up to the top. He “stood” in it to work on the box and the “sticky bolt,” The foot restraint on the arm keeps him pretty stable so he can use both his arms.

In the shadow. I was on the truss near the “box and the bolt”, under Aki – even, in his shadow. Amazing the timing of this picture. Aki and the arm are the only shadow around and I happen to be in it!

Lastly, we watched Notre Dame kick Navy’s butt in football…hmmmm. The game.


Are you kidding me…I don’t think we need any more exercise…

Just joking.  Seriously, I felt sooo much better after I did exercise.  Exercise is truly the fountain of youth, the elixir of life!  I love it and even lifting is getting fun.  One  bad thing about this power situation is that we can’t use our Treadmill – T2 or COLBERT (combined operational load bearing external resistive treadmill ).  It uses too much power to run it.  So, most of our aerobic workouts are on the bike until this MBSU gets fixed.  Joe is close to coming home – only 2 weeks before he, Gennady and Sergei leave.  So, they all have to use the Russian treadmill.  It is sort of mandatory to get on the treadmill with loading in the last couple weeks before going home.  Aki and I aren’t there quite yet…so we are on the bike instead of using the Russian treadmill.



Just eating a lot and eating the best comfort food I can find.

I am somewhat Superstitious about space walks – just like New England sports teams.  You need to do the exact thing you did last time to make sure all goes well.  So, again I had a Fluffernutter for lunch the day before (Peanut Butter and Fluff

on wheat bread) and then tyoreg with nuts for breakfast before the EVA.  Tvoreg is sort of like cottage cheese and cream cheese mixed together.  This version of  “home cheese” is sweet and has chopped nuts in it.  Yummy and it is like cement in your belly.   I wasn’t hungry at all for all the time we were “outside” because of it!

So, like the football we watched on the computer, we have pre-delivered TV shows we watch up here.  Usually during dinner we watch the news with Brian Williams or one of our favorite cooking shows.  The two we all seem to enjoy are Diner, Drive ins and Dives and of course Everything Italian.  Well, this Sunday, not only did we get to watch Giada’s show, but she happened to be on a “skype” with us to say hi!  It was a surprise for Joe.  I introduced him to Giada – because I noticed LA liked to watch her when he worked out.  Knowing LA already knows how to cook Italian food, I was curious why he would be interested in this show…well it was obvious.  So, I knew Joe would enjoy her “cooking” as well…hmmmmhmmm….Joe loves her now!  So as a surprise for him, we got her to come “onboard “ for a tour and to say hi to Joe.  We “showed” her around and then she and Joe got to chat a little.  It was really cool, but I don’t think she is impressed with our food…


General thoughts and questions:

Our view isn’t too shabby…

Thanks again for tuning in!

Smiles from space, s


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