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Ask the Crew: STS-112

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Question No. 11 Jeff Ashby's Reply

From: Nicolas, Boulder, Colo., Age: 9
To: Commander Jeff Ashby

Question: I am interested in knowing more about the cap you wear under the helmets. Why do you wear it, and what is it for?

Ashby: Well, Nicolas, that cap is used for communications. It contains earphones and microphones, and we use it to communicate with our friends in Mission Control.

STS-112 Commander Jeff Ashby
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Question No. 12 Jeff Ashby's Reply

From: Ryan Anderson, Warrensburg, Mo., Age: 13
To: Commander Jeff Ashby

Question: What is it like to dock the orbiter to the International Space Station?

Ashby: Ryan, it's quite a thrill. It's probably the biggest thrill of my life that I've had. First of all you come up on the space station in space and it's gleaming like a star. It's just brilliant and it takes you're breath away. And you're doing about 17,500 miles an hour, and you've got to ease into a docking position, and you've got to clunk against the space station, hopefully not too hard.

STS-112 Commander Jeff Ashby
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Question No. 13 Sandra Magnus' Reply

From: Suzanne Caffee, West Lafayette, Ind., Age: 40
To: Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus

Question: It seems that sleeping in micro-gravity would be very comfortable. Is this true?

Magnus: Hi Suzanne! It's actually takes a little bit of getting used to at first. You have this feeling when you're floating that it's just not right, but after a little while you get used to it. It is quite comfortable. And actually, I find myself in a position like this, where my knees are tucked up to my chest, and that is probably the most comfortable position for sleeping in space.

STS-112 Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus
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Question No. 14 Sandra Magnus' Reply

From: Susan Shaw, Terre Haute, Ind., Age: 52
To: Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus

Question: Do you find yourself distracted or gazing at Earth because it looks so awesome from your view?

Magnus: We were so busy when we were docked to the station that we didn't get a chance to look out at the Earth and we didn't have a lot of windows in there so we didn't have a chance to get distracted, but today and yesterday when we were undocked, you'd see really interesting things on the Earth, and it was a little bit easy to get distracted. But if you had something to do you, just had to get [it] done and hope that next time when you had a chance you could go out and see some neat things. Like today, we passed over Bermuda. It was very pretty. We saw some very nice features over in South America. And as they're pointing the camera out the window right now, you can see that it's just pretty no matter where you are as you go over the Earth.

An island in the southern Pacific Ocean that the STS-112 crew filmed while  Magnus answered the question.
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Question No. 15Pam Melroy's Reply

From: Christian Bahr, Traunstein, Germany, Age: 28
To: Pilot Pam Melroy

Question: How does it feel onboard the shuttle when the three main engines stop after the climb to orbit? This must be the moment of feeling zero-gravity for the first time, I guess. Do you feel a shock or something like breaking down hard when the engines stop?

Melroy: Well, the big shock is actually at liftoff. When the engines shut off, yes, it does seem very sudden. What actually happens is you're being pressed down very hard because you're lying on your back. And the forces of gravity, actually three times the force of gravity because of our acceleration, are making it actually very hard to breathe. And then, suddenly it gets really easy to breathe and everything floats up in front of you, and it's just like a magic moment.

STS-112 Pilot Pam Melroy
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Question No. 16 David Wolf's Reply

From: Christian Zahl, Celle, Germany, Age: 32
To: Mission Specialist David Wolf

Question: Watching the downlinked videos, it seems that the spacesuits are really big, and it's hard get out. How difficult is it to handle the tools and devices with such big gloves?

Wolf: That's a great question, and you've made some good perceptions. The suits are big and they just barely fit through the hatch, and it's hard to move delicately so that you don't break things on the outside or knock electrical connectors off and such. And the gloves it's like doing work in your workbench with big gloves on, a few pairs of ski mittens. So it's hard to work, but we have special tools meant to do the job, and the people that build the station build it in a way that it can be handled with a big suit and gloves, and so it ends up working out OK. Thanks for the good question.

STS-112 Mission Specialist David Wolf
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Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/21/2002
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