Email from Space
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 97 23:32:18 -0800
Subject: Email from Space
Forwarded-by: Matthew Kleinosky <email@example.com>
Email from Space: forwarded with permission
>From a friend of a friend...
>Mindy works at UTexas Houston where I used to work- Matthew
>Mindy and I have somewhat of a claim to fame. Dave Wolf, the American
>Astronaut currently on the Russian Mir space station, was a guest at our
>wedding. A very close friend of Mindy's works with the shuttle program
>at NASA. Mindy's friend brought Dave Wolf as a date to our wedding.
>Following is an email sent from the Mir space station to Mindy's
>friend. I found it interesting so I thought I would forward it along.
>Subject: A few good words from Mir...
>From Oct 31--
>After finally learning where to find critical items like the self
>closing trash container liners, I think it is safe to say that I am
>settling in up here. One of the things I am learning is that you don't
>have to be a rocket scientist (even though that is what we are) to make
>a real difference on MIR. Between operating a full time lab module and
>pitching in on the daily ship's chores, I hardly have time to write my
>letters home. Don't take that as a complaint. There's no place on earth
>I would rather be.
>Because the crews before us were so busy fighting alligators it's now
>up to us to return this remarkable ship into top shape. Unfortunately
>for me, that means things like organizing and cleaning - tasks my mother
>can attest to that I didn't always excel at back on earth. But she sure
>would be proud of me now. I spent most of today in the bathroom,
>organizing and cleaning it, not using it. Yesterday, I spent the
>morning capturing the water which accumulates as big wiggling, floating
>blobs on the heat exchangers of our condensate recovery system.
>My pet project is keeping the numerous ventilation filters clear - no
>small order. I also have been put in charge of the local lost and
>found. Because I helped stow the gear from the progress supply ship,
>Pavel and Anatoly think I actually remember where I put everything. But
>even if that were true, unlike on earth, up here things don't
>necessarily stay where you put them. If you don't nail it down (up here
>we use velco) there is literally no telling where something is -
>I am trying to fix our CD player but I'll be lucky to even get it back
>together again. I also helped Pavel out with the up and down data link
>through which much of our communications with the mission controllers
>occurs. But, mainly, my time is spent in the laboratory module,
>Priroda, which means "nature" in English. It's a capable lab. I really
>enjoy the work and interacting with the researchers and operations teams
>on earth. It keeps me so busy I can't imagine having yet another module
>(would have been Spektor) full of experiments. I feel we have already
>made some important observations. A great colleague of mine said that a
>lab is a place with enough junk in it to do anything. We're there.
>This ship literally wreaks of both history and character. It's a "fixer
>upper" all right but one you would take a long trip with in a
>heartbeat. The central command post (cockpit) has keys that look like
>worn ivory. Leather shrouds serve where plastic would now be chosen.
>The metal machining is recognizably Russian, and of the highest quality.
>It's overall character brings forth the image of the "time machine" from
>H.G. Well's classic. Signatures and instruction placards written by the
>hands of over a decade of Cosmonauts who maintained and lived in this
>true marvel of human achievement. Adapted over the years to the
>unforeseen requirements of 0 gravity life. Tables with things on both
>sides. A bicycle with no seat. A set of heavy tools held in place by
>rubber bands. It sports a network of bungies and cables suited ideally
>to gravityless locomotion and stowage. Spiderman would be envious.
>I ate dinner with my eyes closed while listening to music recorded at a
>Russian cafe on Tverskaya. Apparently it takes longer than 3 weeks to
>get totally used to no gravity. I still look up at the gas analyzer on
>the ceiling and wonder, for a moment, how I'll get up there to read it
>and find myself momentarily surprised to discover that I can just fly on
>up. I continue to try and put things "down" foolishly thinking it might
>stay put. Naturally, it quickly gets lost. I get my hands too full, and
>then, am a bit slow to simply let go and then sort it out. I also
>forget to use the ceiling as a surface. The other morning Pavel was in
>my path for several seconds before I remembered I could just float over
>him to get where I was going. We show off to each other the intricacies
>of body control, in the proper form, as dictated by current 0 gravity
>style. These are competitions I invariably lose. I am still trying to
>figure out how not to become upside down when putting my pants on.
>worry though. I have plenty of time to figure it out.
© 1997 Peter Langston