sea turtle visits the reef.
5, Clayton Anderson
Day 2, Tuesday, June 17, 2003
I have been
sitting on my bunk, 20,000 millimeters (60 ft) under the sea, in
the Aquarius habitat. Located off of the shores of Key Largo, Florida,
it is truly a space flight analogy. I have been listening to some
beautiful New Age music as I watch Spotted Eagle Rays, Caribbean
Manta/Sting Rays and a Nurse Shark silently and smoothly cruise
the ocean floor. I adore this Celtic laced New Age music, smooth
and mysterious, as it is the perfect background for this undersea
tapestry. I look forward to the day that songs like this will gracefully
and gently stimulate my senses against the background of our beautiful
blue and green planet Earth.
habitat is our home for two weeks. While similar to a shuttle flight
in length (usually about 11-14 days) and crew size (there are six
of us; 3 astronauts, 1 scientist and 2 habitat technicians), many
of the activities parallel the International Space Station (ISS).
We are dining on ISS cuisine and testing out various pieces of equipment
destined for station (e.g., a portable ultrasound machine). The
work is keeping us extremely busy, especially the first few days.
This is VERY similar to space flight as it takes everyone a couple
of days to establish their individual routines. We are well on our
Our crew is
a blast. Commander Peggy Whitson, Chief Science Officer of Expedition
5 to the ISS, is a wonderful leader. Her cool demeanor and calm
temperament are complemented by her wonderful sense of humor. Speaking
of senses of humor...there's Garrett Reisman. An astronaut classmate
of mine (1998) and a mechanical engineer from New Jersey, he keeps
us all in stitches. His antics are the perfect "after SCUBA
dive/space walk" tonic. Yet when it's time to get down to business,
there is none better. I would cherish the opportunity to fly in
space with these two.
Dr. Emma Hwang,
a biomedical engineer from the Johnson Space Center, is our "Steady Eddy" and our mission Science Officer. She is simply amazing
with her ability to coordinate all of the experiments and life science
data collections while troubleshooting various equipment problems
when things don't seem to like 2.5 times the pressure on land! Our
hab techs, James Talacek (North Carolina) and Ryan Snow (Vermont),
have a simple job - keep us alive! As James would say, "...sounds
easy, doesn't it...?" The true "kings" of the habitat,
they are two of the most competent individuals that I have ever
met. That makes me glad, because our lives are, in a large way,
in their hands. The rest is up to us!
time for bed, one of my favorite times during the previous week
of training and during our first days as neophyte "Aquanauts."
Exhausted, yet content with a good day's work, I will settle down
alongside my crewmates. Nestled together in our 6 bunk beds, nary
a few inches apart, I will drift off to sleep with a few more tunes….