Home' Technology Review : January February 2009 Contents ORAL HISTORY 63
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Simonyi: It's like going to the opera or the symphony. You
take the score with you to understand what's going on. You
appreciate more if you have the written score.
Garriott: Even before you can feel the thrust, you can feel that
there is a massive amount of fluid shifting. Then the engines
start some seconds prior to lifto , so you can feel all that stu
power up. You can feel a bit of sway because of the wind. And
then, right on time, right at launch moment, the Soyuz just
very gently, but confidently, begins to step o the pad.
Olsen: Listen, when I felt that rocket rumbling, I got serenely
peaceful. I'm thinking, "Yes! The next 10 days belong to me,
and nobody can take this away from me."
Garriott: You are going, "Well, okay, if this goes well, it's going
to be a gentle ride up. If this goes badly, hopefully that escape
tower is going to work. Either way, life or death, it's going to
be pretty raucous!"
Shuttleworth: It's a profound experience. You're mixing moments
of terror with moments of pure joy.
Olsen: At launch, we got to about three and a half G's. I tried to
raise my arm, and it felt like I had a 10-pound weight on it.
Ansari: The pressure was not bad at all. Between the first stage
and the second stage, it was like time stopped. Everything
came to standing still for just a few seconds. Then it started
back again. You get a kick there.
Olsen: After about eight minutes the G forces go away and
you know you're going close to 17,000 miles an hour. It's a
constant velocity, so there's no force.
Shuttleworth: The thing I remember as being quite striking
was this collection of very domestic sounds that kicks in after
the main-engine cuto . Mechanical sounds, like the air circu-
lation and the conditioning, and then bits and pieces are kind
of kicking in. You've got alarm clocks and fans, and you've got
a big device called the "globus." It's a ball---your map, basically---
that turns, and it starts going tick, tick, tick, like a cuckoo clock.
You've just gone through this extraordinary experience of get-
ting up into space, and then suddenly it's like waking up inside
the workshop of an old Swiss clockmaker or something. So
it's this amazing contrast between what you might expect---
which should involve special e ects and background music---
and the very mechanical physical reality of it.
Ansari: The next thing I knew, this pen that was attached to a
string started floating. It was just so crazy in my head. I was
like, "Oh my God, I'm in space!"
Olsen: When you go weightless, one of the e ects is that you
have to urinate a lot because of fluid shift.
Simonyi: The fluids are behaving di erently in the bladder.
Olsen: So, I'm dying to go, and finally I'm saying to myself,
"Gee, I'm probably going to have to use this diaper. This might
smell the capsule." I lean over to the commander---on the sur-
face, he's like a stern Russian, but he's a great guy---and tell him,
like I'm tipping him o .
Simonyi: In the capsule you communicate by nudges, because
you all face forward and it's hard to turn your head. You can't
see each other. But you can certainly feel the rest of their body.
You are kind of pretty much just joined.
Olsen: Then he leans over to me and says, in English, "Don't worry,
Greg Olsen. I already went." Once I heard that, I just let go.
Garriott: I did wear and need a diaper during launch. You're
psychologically motivated not to need it, but you quickly learn
to get over your di culty and use the device as designed.
Olsen: It didn't smell. Those diapers are well made.
Garriott: I don't think there is any way I could have gone the
distance without it, so to speak.
Ansari: It took another while before they allowed us to take
o the belts and be able to float in the cabin.
Simonyi: When you are weightless and in the seat, it's an inter-
esting feeling, but not that big a deal. When I saw Oleg [the flight
engineer] open the hatch above and fly out of his seat, through
the hatch, and into the living room, that was amazing.
Olsen: We have this habitat module on the top.
Simonyi: There's this famous picture of Christ rising by the
medieval painter [Matthias] Grünewald. It's just a fantastic
painting, and these guys just floating like angels reminded me
of it. It's amazing. And then you do it. I mean, it's fabulous.
Garriott: When you actually get a chance to look down at
Earth from space, of course the view is spectacular. You can
tell you're high because of the blackness of space, the curva-
ture of the earth. But the view, at least looking straight down
"You're walking to this fully fueled rocket, full of kerosene and oxygen.
The thing is so cold it's covered with white frost. It's very clear that
you are stepping into something that is on the edge, so to speak."
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