Linenger's Letters to his Son

February 10, 1997
"
Human being questions"

Dear John:

Just got done talking to Grandma Linenger. On the TV. During a CNN interview with John Holliman, they surprised me and had my mom on the telephone.

He and I talked briefly before the interview. He said that all mothers are alike. They all worry over their children. He related that when he was in Baghdad during the start of Desert Storm, he would call his mother every day to assure her that all was okay.

Mom just said that I'm in her thoughts and prayers, and to take good care of myself. I said that I'm doing just fine and sent my love. Ten or twenty or forty years from now, I bet that Kathryn will still be worrying over you, John. Very special and nice, a mother's love.

I think that a father's love isn't much different. Rougher, but just as endless. Maybe less expressed, but there.

I did a second interview afterwards with Discovery channel, Canada. I heard they wanted to talk about a Canadian experiment called microgravity isolation mount. Since Discovery channel usually does some rather serious documentaries, I decided I had better brush up a bit. Isolates in the frequency range of .01 to 100 hertz. Queld, another Canadian experiment that sits atop it, measures diffusion coefficients in metallic binary systems, glasses, and semiconductors. You know, that kind of stuff.

They asked. I replied the big picture answer--something like it isolates the experiment from disturbances on the station--called g-jitter. Showed them a bubble of orange-mango drink floating to demonstrate how unique the space environment is, and how we can better study the fundamentals of fluids after removing some of the Earth-gravity created confounding factors. He immediately moved to the next question. How was your ride in the Soyuz capsule, or something like that. Then, how do you feel? What do you see? Softball stuff. I could tell he did not want to talk about technical stuff anymore than I did. We both relaxed and had a nice chat.

The bottom line is that most people just want to know what it is like up here. How do you feel. Physically. Psychologically. What do you do. What surprises you. How does it feels to undock, to fly in a spaceship, to be isolated, to live in a dangerous environment. How do you deal with it. What does your wife think. What does your mom think. Human being questions. I try to answer honestly, try to give them a feel of the adventure.

Today I saw huge dust storms in the Sahara of Africa. Lake Chad drying up. Five minutes later, the Nile, the triangle of the Sinai Peninsula, and the Red Sea all in one view. Then Elbrus and the snow-covered Caucasus. One month and 12,000,000 miles under my belt. Quite an adventure.

Sleep tight, don't let the bugs bite.

Dad.

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