Salute to Mir
The world has benefited greatly from Russia's
pioneering experience with the Mir space station. Many Shuttle-Mir
dockings have provided further insight and teamwork necessary
for the station's success. It's fitting that the first crew is
comprised of two cosmonauts and one astronaut. Sean Fuller, Houston
Support Group Expedition 1 Lead, assisted with their training
for the past two years in Russia and will facilitate crew communication
with two control centers in Houston and outside Moscow."I
think both teams bring great assets to the program. This particular
crew has each had quite a bit of experience in their various programs,"
said Fuller. They've been trained for all their mission tasks
and are familiar with those of the three shuttle visits (so they
can assist if necessary and follow-up once visiting crews leave).
For all the years of planning and testing, there will still be
surprises. "I believe the first several missions on the station
are going to face more unknown than others," said Krikalev.
Men, One Crew
crew is honored to be the first residents.
As Krikalev said, we do "not represent only our hometown or even
our countries in space, it's more like an international adventure."
After five years of training, they have become friends and co-workers.
They've lived and worked in each other's cities, been exposed
to different cultures and languages and met one another's family
And they've come to appreciate and understand that, while countries
approach and solve problems differently, each has the same goal--success.
They've even created their own language: Runglish. "When we are
short of words in one language we can use the other," according
Life in a remote, closed-in space is challenging.
"I think living on station is much more like being on a ship,
or maybe a submarine, than flying in an airplane," said Shepherd.
During training, "each of us has kept in mind the kind of model
on how we're going to operate," said Gidzenko. Eventually, they'll
establish a routine. There will be full days of work (where they're
on-call 24/7) and the chance "to meet close to the end of the
day, usually floating around the table and during dinner time."
Exercise is a serious requirement. "Everybody's got two hours
each day to run on the treadmill because when you're weightless
the effects on
your body can be pretty negative," according to Shepherd. It's
also important to "find time for R&R;, for rest, to get away from
all of this. It could be just looking out the window, reading
a bit, chatting with each other," added Gidzenko. Keeping in touch
via email with family and friends helps. So do visitors. "We will
be looking forward to our compatriots from Earth who will bring
us things from our people who are dear to us."
by Nature "Earth is sort of the cradle for
mankind," Gidzenko said. And, as curious creatures, we have a
great need to leave what we know to explore what we don't. Expedition
One has not only opened the "door" to the station for themselves,
but for all of us back here on Earth. It's the ride of the planet.