Interview: James Halsell, Jr.
STS-101 Crew Interviews with Jim Halsell, the Commander of Space
before we talk about the details of the mission, a few details
about you: Why did you want to be an astronaut?
I think I
probably got interested in the space program as a kid. Probably
my dad was the biggest influence. He was a private pilot flying
light airplanes as a hobby when I was growing up, so I'd get to
go along with him in the small airplanes. That just got me hooked
on to aviation and on to flying, and I think it was a natural
stepping-stone from there to start to become interested in the
space program. And I, just like every other kid of my generation,
watched the Gemini and the Apollo programs and the Moon landings
with much interest. I remember thinking I certainly want to become
a pilot and if I ever have the opportunity to fly in space, I'd
like to do that. So, that was where it all began.
with your father, were there other people that you now can look
back and say, "Those people were pretty instrumental in getting
me where I am."
I was lucky
to grow up in a family where both of my parents really made it
easy for me to set goals and to believe in myself and to do those
things that I was interested in. So, certainly both my dad and
my mother were a big part, and continue to be a big part in my
success, if I have any in my life. I also had an uncle, Tommy
Thompson, who was an airline pilot. [He's] recently retired, but
when I was growing [up], I considered him one of my heroes because
he was flying airplanes and they were paying him to do it, and
that seemed like a good way to spend your life.
those sorts of things in mind, then, did you set out on a specific
career course that you thought might lead to astronaut?
Well, I always,
I think, even in high school, had it in the back of my mind that
I certainly wanted to try to go to the Air Force Academy and to
become a military, an Air Force, fighter pilot and at some point
maybe go to test pilot school. If I was able to accomplish all
of that then maybe put my paperwork in to NASA and see if they'd
be interested in hiring me. So, it might be wrong to paint myself
as a supercharged 16-year-old thinking I was going to be an astronaut,
but certainly I had it in the back of my mind that could be a
path that I would like to explore.
it turned out, indeed, to be the path that you took.
you know, lots of kids when they're growing up, they want to be
pilots or firemen or whatever, and I've had the good fortune of
being able to follow those goals and those dreams and have it
come true for me.
with flying in space, you've had a number of jobs inside the space
agency. Among your assignments since your last space flight was
a tour of duty as NASA's director of operations at the Russians'
cosmonaut training center in Star City. From that experience,
along with your experience on one of the shuttle-Mir docking missions,
is that paying dividends for you as you work with the Russians
right now to prepare for an international mission to assemble
the space station?
of the big parts of the training for this current mission has
been [the] multiple trips to Russia with the whole crew to get
us the training that we needed that was only available in Star
City. And because I had lived in Star City, because I knew many
of the Russians -- both the cosmonauts and also the instructors,
the trainers and the management over there -- I felt it very easy
to know [to whom I should] go to get what I thought I needed for
my crew to be trained properly. And I found a high level of cooperation
and understanding on the part of the Russian instructors. So,
it did pay enormous benefits.
your experience as part of what's been called the Phase 1 of the
International Space Station program, how have you seen the experience
of learning to work together -- Americans and Russians, along
with others -- paying off as we move into the second phase of
general, in international programs it goes a lot smoother, a lot
better, a lot easier, if the people know each other, because when
you're dealing across boundaries-national boundaries, cultural
boundaries-it helps to know that there's some friendship that
you developed in the past and can count on in the future to try
to bridge those gaps. And certainly my time in Star City and my
ability to pull upon those friendships and those relationships
have made it a lot easier to get the 101 crew trained for the
task that's ahead of us.
you have been working on STS-101 for some time, but just recently
the goals of the mission itself were changed: You found that you
and some of your crewmates would be flying a revised mission with
new crewmates and on a pretty short turnaround time. Tell me your
reaction to the news that STS-101 was changing to 2A.2a.
respect to the mission change, it was not wholly unexpected. That
is, we, like everybody else, have been able to follow the progress
of the International Space Station program; we understood that
the Russian Service Module was going to be delayed, so somewhere
several months prior to the actual change there was discussion
even then that this might become necessary. So, it was not totally
unexpected. With respect to the crew change, that was somewhat
more surprising to us. And I will tell you that it was certainly
disappointing to have trained as a crew for more than a year with
Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko and Boris Morukov. To have them removed
from this crew so that they can fly on the next flight, the one
that we were originally intended to fly on, [is] disappointing
in the sense that with the exception maybe of a marriage and family
life. I don't think there are any closer bonds than those of a
shuttle crew. We literally live together and train together spending,
in some cases, more time with each other than we do with our own
families for more than a year. So there were some close bonds
there, and it was from a psychological point of view, [that] it
was a difficult transition to make. That is not to say that we
are disappointed in any way with the people who are coming on
board the crew to take their place. Susan Helms, Jim Voss, and
Yuri Usachev-the new crewmembers on 101-have an extremely high
level of expertise on the shuttle. Jim and Susan have flown three
times on the shuttle, and they have been training in Russia with
Yuri for several years on the International Space Station program.
So they know essentially everything that they need to know already
to fly this mission. And it's nice to have that level of expertise
on the crew. Yuri Usachev has flown twice on Mir [and spent] a
year in space, total; you can't get that kind of experience here
in the United States, you have to go to Russia to find it. So
it was disappointing to lose Ed and Yuri and Boris, but we are
certainly glad to welcome the new Yuri and Jim and Susan on board.
talk about the mission itself, and what it has become. Tell us
why NASA has chosen to fly this mission at this time. Describe
the basic goals of STS-101 as it is now constituted.
new STS-101 is a mission designed basically to extend the life
of the International Space Station that's currently on orbit to
make sure that it can await the arrival of the Russian Service
Module later on this year. We do have some degradation in some
of the mechanical and electrical systems on board the station
that we need to go up and take care of, so that the life of the
station is assured for the amount of time required for the next
module to come on board. So that, in a nutshell, is our mission.
made reference a moment ago to the fact that you had been training
with a crew for more than a year. It's pretty standard in space
shuttle history for shuttle crews to spend a year or more training
together along with the ground crews and everyone else who's involved.
But that is changed, in the case of your mission and some recent
ones, too: Is that indicative of, do you think, the way things
will become in the space station era?
Yes, I think
it is. I think that in the future we are going to have to perhaps
become a little bit more flexible. In the past, we have rigorously
applied at least a nine-month, in some case a 12-month, training
template to all shuttle crews. But in the future we're going to
have to be able to take a shuttle crew off the shelf and an International
Space Station crew already in training off the shelf, and put
them together as one crew and have them go fly. And I think, in
fact, that that's one of the goals of management in executing
this late change of crews. To force the system -- the people in
training, the people in the Astronaut Office, the people in Russia
and in the United States -- to maybe explore how we can do this.
So, in some ways we're being pioneers of the way it's going to
happen in the future.
going to be a pioneer of sorts as Atlantis goes uphill. The flight
deck where you and your pilot, Scott Horowitz, are going to take
your seats is going to be different than the flight deck that
you have sat on for every other mission. For after 20 flights,
Atlantis is now the first of the orbiters to be upgraded to what's
been called the "glass cockpit." Talk about what has
changed, what's been improved and what's different; why these
changes have been made to the space shuttle.
is the first shuttle to fly with the "glass cockpit,"
and in some ways, we are just catching up with the current technology.
Most airliners, certainly most all airliners that are coming off
the assembly line now, have "glass cockpit" technology.
And the shuttle, the orbiters are being slowly improved to this
level of technology. And we're going to be the first to fly it.
And from a pilot's perspective, there's nothing but good about
it. Instead of having individual instruments that are fixed in
place on the panel, we now have nine TV screens, in essence, and
we can put any channel of information that we want on any screen,
so we can, in essence, design our own cockpit, put the instruments
where we want them across the face of the panel. And when we first
started training, Scott and I and Jeff Williams, the flight engineer,
spent some time sitting down trying to figure out exactly where
we wanted to put everything and how we could optimize the information
flow to us better than it had been in the past. And we've settled
upon what we think are the right configurations of instruments
for the different phases of flights. And it's going to be interesting
to see how it actually works on liftoff day.
problem with choices is that you have to make them, right?
launch, after you've established your orbit, your first big order
of business is a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
And I understand that the profile of that rendezvous is similar
to what Kent Rominger flew on STS-96 last year. But I'd like to
get you to talk us through the process, talk us through the big
steps for rendezvous and what you and your crewmates will do --
you, particularly, at the aft flight deck station-flying these
two big pieces of equipment together.
Actually, the rendezvous starts from the ground up in the sense
that our liftoff has to be within about a 10-minute window in
order to put us in the right place in the sky, below and behind
the International Space Station. And for the next couple of days
we will slowly catch up with it, doing burns as directed by the
ground control center to optimize that catch-up rate. On the morning
of the third day, we'll wake up, have breakfast and if it's the
same way as it was on STS-74, my other rendezvous mission, we
might be able to look out the window and see a very bright star
out in front of us, several miles, and that will be the International
Space Station with the sunlight reflecting off of the solar panels.
As the day goes on it'll get bigger and bigger, and then all of
a sudden it won't be a star: It's going to be a discernible station
with the solar panels that you can see. As we get closer, the
workload gets more intense. About four hours prior to the actual
docking we enter the rendezvous checklist, which is a very specific
set of steps, maneuvers and burns to perfectly sneak up on, if
you will, the space station. Being a pilot I can't describe this
without using my hands: Imagine that this is the space station
and we're flying in this direction, we're coming from below and
behind, slowly coming up. At about this point, about three or
four thousand feet below and behind the vehicle, I'll actually
move from the front seat to the aft cockpit and look through the
overhead windows and I'll complete the maneuver for rendezvous
manually from there. We will come up below the station to about
a range of 500 feet, and instead of coming straight up from that
range, we will stop and then start a flyaround that will take
us [to] 180 degrees on top of the station. From [there] we will
complete the rendezvous and the docking by coming down from above.
This is different from what I did on STS-74, a little bit more
complicated, but we've practiced it many times, so I feel confident
that we'll do great.
heard it described as the relative motion between the two ships
at about one-tenth of a foot per second; is there a way to give
that kind of measurement a real feel?
our vehicles are so large -- you know, roughly it's 250,000 pounds,
perhaps, of the orbiter [and] slightly less but growing for the
International Space Station -- we do things very slowly. So all
of these maneuvers are very slow, including the final docking,
which takes place at a tenth of a foot per second, or if you want
to round it off to something, one inch per second is about the
rate that we're trying to make contact with as we come down on
the International Space Station. We have several devices on board
to help us gauge that. The first is our eyes by looking outside
and by virtue of the training that we've gotten here, we've gotten
pretty good at eyeballing what a tenth of a foot per second is.
But that's not our primary means-we have two laser systems, one
fixed in the payload bay of the orbiter shooting up at the space
station that gives us very accurate range and range rate. If that
were to fail for some reason, I have Yuri Usachev on the flight
deck next to me who has a handheld laser not unlike what might
be used by a police officer except it's using laser energy, not
radar energy, to shoot at the International Space Station. The
reflected energy can tell us, once again, the range and the range
rate. So we have several different means of making sure that we
dock precisely with the station.
mentioned the fact that you've previously been involved in an
on-orbit rendezvous as the pilot on STS-74 in the rendezvous and
docking with the Mir space station. Is this substantially different
than that, other than the direction from which you're approaching?
It is substantially
the same. The similarities are many, and it's of very much use
to me personally to have done this before as the Pilot. And now
that I'm doing it as the commander, I have the feeling of, I've
been there, I've done that, and I know exactly what I need to
do to make it happen again. The docking system is exactly the
same: It's a Russian-built docking system. It has been somewhat
improved from STS-74, but the panel in the cockpit looks the same.
The rate of closure and the procedures that we use to align with
the target before we actually make contact are all essentially
the same, so it helps me immensely to have done it on 74.
day after docking, your timeline calls for you and your crew to
begin the work of bringing things on to space station. They're
going to start on the outside with a spacewalk conducted by Jim
Voss and Jeff Williams. Can you describe for us what is planned
for the spacewalk, and what your job is going to be inside the
shuttle while they're outside?
job inside the shuttle is going to be a bit role, if you will.
I'm the R-2, which is the second arm operator; Mary Ellen Weber
will be the primary arm operator. So my personal job during the
spacewalk will be to help Mary Ellen Weber, who's actually working
the arm, in whatever she needs. We have several computer displays,
which can help her situation awareness. I'll call up whatever
image from whatever angle she wants. We have two TV monitors with
different camera views, so I'll be calling up whichever TV camera
she wants for any particular maneuver. Meanwhile, of course, the
real action is going on outside. On the end of the arm will be
Jim Voss, and Mary Ellen will be maneuvering him with the Remote
Manipulator System to the appropriate position for the task that
we're doing at that time. While that's going on, Jeff Williams
is not on the end of the arm-it's his job to scurry, manually,
all over the station and catch up with Jim, if you will, for the
next work site and the next task to be done. Scott Horowitz, my
pilot, will be doing double duty as the IVA. He is essentially
the director, the choreographer, if you will; he's standing on
the flight deck, looking outside. He has the checklist, and it's
his job to remind the spacewalkers, OK, do this at this time,
don't forget to do these three bolts in this order. He has a very
important role in the success of this. And he's also the backup
EVA -- that is, if something were to happen that would make it
impossible for one of the two primary EVA persons to go outside,
then Scott's ready to step in on a second's notice. Everybody
else on the crew during that time has other additional duties,
bit roles, if you will-taking photos, photo documentation-so,
we're all involved in that very exciting part of the mission.
lays out all the players and where they're going to be; tell us
about what is going to be done during this six-plus hours out
in the payload bay.
have several different tasks. And it is also true to say that
the specific order of the tasks, and the actual tasks themselves,
have been changing almost from day to day. But as it stands right
now, what we will be doing is first of all going out and dealing
with an American manipulator system, if you will -- it's called
the OTD. It was placed on the station during the previous ISS
construction flight, STS-96, and what they've discovered since
then is that one of the joints is not working properly and is,
in fact, allowing the arm to move freely in the roll axis. In
preparation for the upcoming docking [of] the International Space
Station with the Service Module, we want to make sure that everything
is nailed down tightly and doesn't flop around during the docking.
So, their job will be to go up and to more securely affix that
OTD to the station. After that, we're going to go into the next
big task, which is the Russian construction crane installation.
It's called Strela. Half of this job, once again, was done on
STS-96. Our job will be to take up the remaining pieces of the
crane, take them off of their stowage location in the orbiter
and build the construction crane. And it has three or four different
pieces that have to be affixed sequentially, so now we end up
with a large crane, but it's in the wrong location. So, the next
job is [for] Jim Voss [to] grab it while his feet are affixed
to our remote manipulator arm, Jeff Williams will detach it from
the base and then Mary Ellen will fly Jim, holding this large
construction crane, to its new and proper and final resting place.
That's probably the most dramatic construction job that we'll
have during this flight. After that, there are a number of tasks,
which need to be done at some point in time during the assembly
sequence, and we're going to try to get as many done as possible.
For example, we'll be putting a new communications antenna to
replace one, which has been degraded over the last several months
on the American Node. We're going to affix some television cables
that will be necessary for future docking missions. We're actually
going to put some handrails in place, which will help on future
assembly flights and allow the EVAers on those future missions
to get where they need to be for their tasks. And in fact, even
as we sit here a few weeks from launch, I fully anticipate [that]
there might be a few extra tasks added on to the spacewalk at
the last minute.
noted that you are going to be assisting Mary Ellen Weber, and
part of that is finding her camera views. That's critical in this
mission. My understanding is she can only see what's going on
through camera views.
Yes. It is,
in fact, true that for most of the upcoming shuttle missions it
will be the same as our situation, and that is that the docking
port has been moved right up next to the crew module, so when
we look out the aft windows, what we see is this docking port
and after we dock, of course, this huge Node right in front of
us and in some, it's actually sloping over our heads and obscuring
our view up the top window, too. We're very up close and personal
to space station. The disadvantage of this is that it completely
obscures our view out the windows. So what we've had to learn
to do is to use the television cameras, which are placed at several
different places around the payload bay of the orbiter, and they're
all maneuverable so we can aim them in the appropriate direction.
We've gotten very good at not only aiming those cameras, but also
reversing our senses: That is, when you see an image, you have
to remember that you're actually looking from the other direction
and move your hand accordingly. And Mary Ellen Weber's gotten
very expert over the last year in doing exactly that.
day after the spacewalk is the day that the work inside the International
Space Station is to begin. Do you have any sense at this point
what you're going to feel when those hatches open and you float
inside that station for the very first time?
Well, a little
bit in the sense that I got a chance to do it on STS-74 when we
opened the hatches to Mir. The big difference, of course, is that
we had people welcoming us at that time. Of course, that will
not happen for this flight. But what you do feel when the hatch
opens up, there's always going to be a slight difference if not
in the pressure of the air, because we will have equalized it,
but the smell, if you will, and the texture of the air. It's a
different vehicle, you have different things in there which have
been outgassing, so it's going to smell a little bit different.
And we'll take a few tentative steps, if you will, into the station,
we're going to measure the air quality to make sure everything
is as we expect it to be, and then right after that we're going
to get right to work.
mentioned the air quality. On the previous shuttle assembly mission
there was a problem with the degradation of the air quality. What,
first of all, at this point, do we believe to be the source of
that problem, and second, what has been done to help ensure that
you and your crewmates are not going to suffer the same symptoms
as the last crewmembers did?
[that] probably the biggest contributor to the degradation of
air quality was a lack of ventilation. If you and I, sitting right
here, if we were sitting in zero gravity in a space station or
a space shuttle, we actually create a little local bubble of carbon
dioxide around our face as we exhale. And unlike on Earth, where
that bubble will be dissipated, unless you have strong ventilation
-- air currents blowing all the time across your face -- you can
actually, if you will, self-poison yourself with your own carbon
dioxide. So, the things that we're going to do different on this
flight is, first of all, be aware of that issue and make sure
we avoid it. And the way we're going [to avoid] it is we're actually
carrying some extra personal ventilation fans, which are nothing
more than battery-powered fans which we can set up in any location
and affix it so that it's blowing air across our faces as we're
doing whatever the work is that we're involved in at that point
in time. We've also changed the ducting between the space station
and the orbiter to take advantage of the orbiter's ability to
scrub out any of the undesirable gases and contaminants quicker
and to a higher degree than on the previous flight. So, I think
that being aware of the issue and the changes that we've made
in the ducting and the personal ventilation fans, I think all
that will contribute to hopefully allowing us to avoid these kinds
of problems. But if they do occur we're also going to try to take
some measurements. We're taking up some devices, which they did
not have on the previous flight, to very accurately monitor the
atmosphere constituents as far as contaminants so if something
does happen, if somebody does feel some symptoms, we'll quickly
try to measure the atmosphere and better characterize exactly
the course of the several days that you'll be working in the station,
among the things to be done is the top priority for the mission
that's been characterized as the repair of equipment inside Zarya,
which has been on orbit since late 1998. Tell us about the equipment
that is targeted for repair or replacement, and what's involved
for your crew in executing this work.
I do consider
this to be the primary mission that we're being flown to accomplish.
The spacewalk is exciting, and it is important, but the fact of
the matter is that the reason we're flying this flight on this
date is to extend the life of the space station. Most important
at the current time has to do with the replacement of some of
the electrical system components on the Zarya module -- the batteries
and the electrical voltage and current regulators. Some of them
have degraded significantly since the launch of the vehicle and
since the last visit by STS-96. So we're taking up batteries,
voltage regulators, current regulators, a number of different
boxes, if you will. Our job is to remove the panels, go down to
the subfloor area, disconnect and unbolt the old batteries and
the old regulators, and bring those out, take them back to the
space shuttle where they'd be brought back to the Earth for analysis,
and then to bolt into place the new ones, connect them up and
then make sure they work properly. Also in the Node we've had
some degradation in some of the communications equipment -- it's
called the United States Early Comm system -- so we're going to
be replacing the radio frequency power distribution box in that
particular system. Below those two big tasks are a number of additional
chores, if you will, that we will be accomplishing -- if it's
not necessary to sustain the life of the station it is necessary
at some point in the assembly sequence, so we'll be doing it.
For example, there is some empty space behind the panels of the
Russian module, so we're going to take advantage of that by putting
in some aluminum boxes, if you will, within which we can then
plug in more supplies for the first crew, ISS Expedition 1, which
will be going up later on this year.
are things on the list with names like smoke detectors and fire
extinguishers; [are these] fairly self-explanatory?
are, except that fire extinguisher, for example, is just what
it sounds like. There is a fire extinguisher in place out in the
crew module, several of them, as a matter of fact, but just as
fire extinguishers here on the Earth have an expiration date,
so do the ones in space, and that expiration date's coming up
really soon. So, our job is to take up replacements and bring
the old ones home. With respect to smoke detectors, it might be
that they had a manufacturing fault in some or, perhaps, even
all of the smoke detectors, so our job will be, once again, to
dig in behind the panels where these are located and replace them.
And once again, it's a job of disconnecting the cables involved,
undoing the screws and the bolts, the fasteners, and pulling the
old box out and then doing the reverse to get the new one in.
But, there are eight smoke detectors, I believe, on board, so
it'll take some period of time to get that accomplished.
sounds as though some of these are tasks that you won't be the
last shuttle crew to perform. These are regular maintenance items
that have to be done on a station that's up there flying all the
this is the way of the future in the sense that the International
Space Station is going to be an ongoing, ever-growing, but also
ever-requiring-maintenance vehicle which you don't put into orbit
and forget about. You put [it] into orbit and then you apply the
resources necessary to keep it going and also to improve it over
the course of the several days that these thousands of pounds
of stuff is moved back and forth, who's doing what? Who's in charge
of this operation?
one of the fun things about being a commander, and it's also,
in my opinion, one of the important aspects of being a commander,
and that is you look at the people, at their talents and at their
desires, and you try to assign tasks so that it takes advantage
of their goals and their desires, what they would like to do,
but also takes advantage of their talents. And [this] also evens
out the workload. You would like everybody to be contributing
about evenly. And one of the satisfying things about being a commander
is being part of trying to make everybody a success. As you go
through the crew, Scott Horowitz, for example, has a very important
job on ascent and entry and during the rendezvous of being a pilot,
which is his trained position as an Air Force pilot. But once
we dock with the International Space Station, he's also going
to be responsible for some of the installation tasks. He and Jim
Voss will work together as an installation pair, if you will,
primarily emphasizing those tasks in the Node, such as changing
out the Early Comm boxes. There are some other centerline camera
setups and photography which have to be accomplished in order
to bring back information on a system that will be used in future
dockings and construction on the International Space Station.
Mary Ellen Weber, MS1, we've talked about her job as the Remote
Manipulator System operator, and that certainly is her most critical
task until we open up the hatches. Then she becomes the number
one person in charge of moving all the supplies that we brought
up on the shuttle, in both the middeck and in the SPACEHAB. She
has to know where everything is located, and it's her job to make
sure everything comes out of the shuttle in the appropriate time
and in the appropriate order to support the change outs which
are going on in the space station and also the stowage. MS2 Jeff
Williams, he's our flight engineer, so once again on ascent/entry
and during the rendezvous he works with us on the flight deck
to make sure the vehicle is flown appropriately. But once we dock
and after the spacewalk is complete -- and by the way, he's the
lead spacewalker -- he's the person on the other end of the supply
chain. That is, Mary Ellen's responsible for bringing stuff in
the appropriate order and time sequence out of the orbiter into
the station, he's responsible for receiving it and making sure
that it goes in the right place and is stowed appropriately. Susan
Helms and Yuri Usachev are the primary Russian segment installation
team, if you will. They have just recently returned back from
Russia where they received the most updated information and training
on the tasks on the electrical system changeouts. So, during the
period of time that they're working, I consider them to be the
primary focus of the entire crew. We need to support them and
make sure they get those electrical systems changed out appropriately.
So, everybody on the crew is vital during every phase of flight.
that leave you to be the runner, going back and forth?
you should mention that. If you look at the timeline, everybody
is booked up, every crewmember is booked up every minute of the
day, with very little free time, with one exception, and that's
the commander. That was done intentionally, and it's not so much
because I'm lazy -- I don't think I am -- but rather because I
wanted to be the free wild card, if you will. As problems arise,
as issues come up, as one person might fall behind on a task and
needs more help, I want to be free to go in whatever direction
the time that work is done and you undock from the station and
flyaround and give it a look over, what in your mind will have
to have been accomplished at that point to consider this mission
one objective is to do those tasks which are necessary to extend
the life of the space station until the arrival of the Service
Module, and until the arrival of STS-106, the new 2A.2b mission
then following that the arrival of the Expedition 1 ISS crew.
That primarily means making sure we do those mechanical and electrical
changeouts and installations which are required. After that, I
would put the spacewalk as a high number two priority because
anything which we don't accomplish on a spacewalk on this mission
is going to have to be picked up by somebody else downstream,
and, frankly the timelines for all the future spacewalks are already
full. So we need to get those EVA tasks accomplished. If we do
all that, plus transfer the several thousand pounds of supplies,
which Bill Shepherd and Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, ISS-1
crew, are expecting to be there when they arrive, if we do those
three primary tasks, we're going to be a successful mission.
the 20th century wore down, people made a lot of lists, and they
made a list of the biggest news stories of the 20th century. Human
space flight, from Gagarin to the Moon landing and beyond, was
in the top five for the entire century. Well, now you're leading
a space shuttle mission to kick off the 21st century to help extend
the human presence in space; why do you think that's important
I think it's
important because it's the future of mankind. In the very long
term, which is sometimes hard for us to think about, but in the
very long [term], in order to continue to survive and to grow
and to expand, mankind is going to have to leave this planet.
And I'm very fortunate to be part of the very beginning baby steps
of that procession. I don't expect it will probably happen in
my lifetime, maybe not even in my son's lifetime, but it will
happen. To be part of that history, when somebody a couple of
hundred years from now looks back on it, that's something that
I feel privileged to be a part of. And that's why it's important.