Shuttle-Mir Stories

Astronaut Andy Thomas with small "SoloEtte" guitar.

Thomas on Mir Recreation

In his Oral History, U.S. Mir astronaut Andy Thomas discusses recreational activities onboard Mir.

Thomas says that it's largely up to the crewmember to make sure he or she has good acitivities planned. "I think the big lesson from that is, if you're going to do a long-duration flight like this, the crewperson does have to have a personal recreation device at his disposal which is something he or she really derives a personal benefit from.

"NASA can provide tapes and videos and CDs and things like that, but the crewperson needs to think about what they really need for themselves for that time, ... [such as a] hobby to take with them ... because it's really important that you have good recreation [in order to] ... psychologically remove you from the environment, so that you can have productive times during your work, just like here on Earth."

Thomas says creative activities turned out to be important for him. "I'd actually taken some guitar music up there, and there was a guitar up there, which I tried to play. Playing a guitar in zero gravity is actually very difficult, because the guitar won't sit in your lap. It turns out it's a lot harder than you might imagine...

"...The most creative recreation I did was to do sketches. I had paper and pencils up there, and I would do sketches of things that I saw out the window or internal views and things like that. Over the twenty weeks I was there, I did a number of these sketches, not many, about twelve, because they take a long time to do. But I found that a very rewarding activity because you can get so involved in it, it distracts you completely from everything else you've been thinking about, and you're thinking creatively -- which I like to do -- and that turned out to be an immense pleasure during the flight.

"I would . . . do some sketching on a Saturday, and I'd find suddenly that hours had passed, and at the end of it I felt just refreshed and ready to go, plus it has given me a personal record of the trip, which is perhaps a little more personal than just a whole series of photographs."

Related Links:
Life on Mir
Thomas Increment
Profile: Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas Oral History (PDF)


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