Home' Technology Review : January February 2009 Contents ORAL HISTORY
TECHNOLOGY REVIEW JANUARY/ FEBRUARY
to the ground, isn't that di erent from the view you might see
out of an airplane window.
Simonyi: We had a Velcro curtain on the window. At one point
I was trying to steal a glimpse of Earth, but [the commander]
nudged me, and he raised his voice and ordered me to stop.
In a real commander fashion.
Ansari: They really caution you the first couple of days about
looking out the window, especially looking at the earth.
Simonyi: The Soyuz is put into a constant rotation so that
the solar panels face the sun. Looking at the earth while the
spacecraft is rotating can get you sick. You can get sick even
if you don't look at the earth. That's called space adaptation
syndrome. And that rotation exacerbates the e ects of space
adaptation syndrome. So for the first couple of orbits we
weren't supposed to look at the earth.
Ansari: You have to take it really easy, move slowly, move your
head slowly or don't move your head at all if possible. I felt
great during the launch. I felt great right after the launch. Then
it was time to sleep, and we set our sleeping bags.
Olsen: It's just, like, so weird when you sleep for the first time.
I struggled to get to sleep, just because you're so excited. It's
strange, and it feels good.
Simonyi: I was dreaming that I was on the ground. I'm in
Star City just training, filling out this form, blah, blah, blah,
blah, blah. And then I was awakened by the commander. I
was kind of disoriented. Where am I? Oh, I'm in a spacecraft
going around the earth!
Ansari: After I woke up, I was like, "Oh, it's my first day in space,
first morning in space." I was so excited. I started flying out
of my sleeping bag. Flying around, looking out the window.
Going from one window to the other window.
Garriott: Just being able to flip and spin like an incredible pro-
fessional gymnast and land with your face next to a window
looking out at a big gorgeous sunrise is really fantastic.
Ansari: That's when the whole Soyuz started spinning around
my head. I knew that I just did something I wasn't supposed
to---and I got really ill.
Olsen: About 40 percent of all people who go into space do. It
has nothing to do with being macho.
Ansari: I didn't let them see it. I thought, "Oh my God, they will
think I'm stupid. I have my vomit floating around the cabin."
I managed to grab a bag before it got too bad. I just had a little
bit of it floating around. The good thing about it is it's floating,
so you can catch it. I was able to catch it with a napkin and put
it in the bag before they all could see it.
After two days of travel, the Soyuz capsule reaches low Earth orbit
and begins to dock with the International Space Station.
Simonyi: Docking is fully automatic.
Olsen: The commander has the ability to take over the ship,
but it's all done by radio controls. You're basically bouncing
a radio beam o the ISS. That's telling you how far away you
are, plus what velocity you're approaching the station at.
Simonyi: You start being aware of the presence of this
incredible structure. You see it very small at first. And then
you can see details of it, just through an optical sight. It's like
a very old-fashioned---I don't know what it is. There is noth-
ing, no items like that anymore, I'm sure. It's a periscope, in
a sense, but you don't put your eye next to it. It's a projection
on a matte glass: it has this faint, faint image. It's very sharp,
of course, but it's not very bright.
Shuttleworth: I was focused on the periscope, because that's
where it's approaching.
Simonyi: That instrument could have been constructed in the
19th century. Not the 20th century but the 19th century.
Shuttleworth: It's sort of a functional minimalism. It would
be very hard to break it.
Simonyi: Toward the very end, the retro-rockets fire. They
just decrease the speed just by the tiniest amount. They pause
more than fire, and the fire is just this white flash. But they fire
right next to the side windows. And you can see this white
flash and little bubbles, little globs of unburned propellant
that go every which way.
Shuttleworth: I was intensely focused on the periscope, and
after we docked, I looked out my window and suddenly the
radiators and solar panels show up. There's this bloody great
structure there, and it's very dramatic. You dock with the sun
behind you, so it's very, very stark, and everything around it is
completely black. It's very stunning, very space, and very cool.
Garriott: There's this iridescent, orange-ish glow from the solar
panels that's just not captured in photographs.
Olsen: I remember we were right on target.
Garriott: The docking cone is designed to where you can be
o target by even up to half a meter, really, and it will funnel
you into the correct docking.
Ansari: They open the hatch toward the Soyuz first.
Olsen: Our hatch won't open. Our commander is pulling and
pulling ... finally we put our feet on it. "One, two, three, heave.
One, two, three, heave." It won't budge. I'm thinking, "All the
training and money, and now we can't get the door open. We're
going to have to go home." Then, finally, we cracked it.
Ansari: At that moment [the crew of the ISS] opens their door---
to see how you look. If I was still sick, they didn't want to put
me in front of the camera and embarrass me.
Simonyi: We shaved beforehand, put on clean flight suits.
Olsen: When we drifted into the ISS, the first thing I did was hit
my head on the ceiling. This was on Moscow television.
Shuttleworth: On the one hand, it's kind of festive and welcom-
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