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Preflight Interview: James Halsell, Jr.

The STS-101 Crew Interviews with Jim Halsell, the Commander of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Jim, 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.

Along 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.

With 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.

And it turned out, indeed, to be the path that you took.

Yes. And 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.

Along 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?

Yes. One 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.

From 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 the program?

Well, in 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.

Well, 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.

Well, with 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.

Let's 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.

Well, the 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.

You 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.

You're 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.

Well, Atlantis 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.

The problem with choices is that you have to make them, right?

Yes, exactly right.

After 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.

Yes, certainly. 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.

I've 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?

It's because 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.

You 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.

The 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?

Well, my 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.

That 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.

Well, they 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.

You 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.

The 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.

You 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?

We think [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 what's happening.

Over 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.

[There] are things on the list with names like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; [are these] fairly self-explanatory?

Yes, they 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.

It 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 time?

Right. And 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 time.

During 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?

Well, that's 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.

Does that leave you to be the runner, going back and forth?

It's funny 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 is required.

By 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 a success?

The number 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.

As 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 to do?

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.

IMAGE: James Halsell
Click on the image to hear James Halsell's greeting.
Commander, STS-101
Crew Interviews

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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