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Ask the Crew: STS-111

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Question No. 11Franklin Chang-Díaz's Reply

From: William Wheeler, Marietta, Ga., Age: 21
To: Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Díaz

Question: As a mechanic here on Earth, I find it hard enough to pull off some repairs. Did you find that having the added burden of the EMU and weightlessness made it harder or easier to accomplish the repairs to Canadarm2?

Chang-Díaz: I guess the answer comes in two parts. It is a yes and a no. In fact, I am a bit of a mechanic myself, and I tend to compare this repair to changing a transmission in your car. The advantage of being in space, of course, is that weight is not really a factor. As long as you move things slowly, it is very easy to maneuver large objects -- a transmission, for example -- and in our case, the actual joint of the Canadarm2, which weighs about 150 to 200 pounds. So, in that sense it was easier to do it. However, the EMU itself, it is a stiff suit, and moving around in it is difficult in some ways. You also have to remember that everything you take out has to be tethered, lest it will fly away. So you have to make sure that every little bolt, every little component that you take out from your repair site has to have a tether to someplace on the structure - either to you or to the rest of the station. Otherwise, you'll lose it. So, in many ways, the repairs are more difficult, but also they are easier. So it has a two-part answer to the question.

STS-111 Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Díaz
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Question No. 12Franklin Chang-Díaz's Reply

From: Joshua Wilson, Dixons Mills, Ala., Age: 18
To: Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Díaz

Question: How long or what is the limit that an astronaut can stay on an EVA without returning to the shuttle?

Chang-Díaz: Actually, the short answer is on the order of seven to eight hours or so. And it is not a high limit in the sense that sometime EVAs can be a little longer and sometimes they are shorter. But for the most part, the suit can support the astronaut well on the order of eight hours or so. After that time, you tend to run out of electrical power and also oxygen in your suit. You can always go back to the to the airlock, and without having to take the hood off, you can replenish your oxygen. You can also do other things. Generally, our EVAs are not any longer than seven hours or so.

STS-111 Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Díaz
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Question No. 13Franklin Chang-Díaz's Reply

From: Jessica, Salt Lake City, Utah, Age: 10
To: Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Díaz

Question: Can you see the forest fires on the Earth?

Chang-Díaz: And the answer is definitely yes, very much so. We see fires all over the planet, not just certain areas, but they are spread all over the planet. In some areas at certain times of the year, these fires are actually human-induced in order to clear the fields for planting crops in the following season. This has very bad effects on our atmosphere because all the smoke and pollutants that are raised into the atmosphere end up covering the entire planet and begin to change the environmental conditions in which we live. And, of course, all of those particulates and smoke in the regions tend to induce a greater degree of illnesses -- respiratory type illnesses -- in the people who live in those areas. So, fires on the surface of the planet are not good, and we can definitely see them.

STS-111 Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Díaz
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Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 06/19/2002
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