Home' Technology Review : January February 2009 Contents ORAL HISTORY
TECHNOLOGY REVIEW JANUARY/ FEBRUARY
Shuttleworth: Eventually, you learn to stick and then cover
pretty much anything. Everything has Velcro on it. You want
to make sure there are at least two points of attachment for
anything that you happen to be working with.
Garriott: I had everything in bags within bags, Velcroed and
zip-tied and rubber-banded.
Simonyi: When something goes drifting, it's very di cult to
find. On Earth, when you lose something, you look on the floor.
Here, you can't. You are looking at everything, and there is just
stu everywhere. It could be anywhere. Behind anything.
Shuttleworth: You'd often come across someone looking for
something, and it would be floating just behind their head.
Simonyi: The space station is so messy. Words don't do jus-
tice. It's like going into the messiest hardware store you have
ever seen---which only has one of everything somewhere in its
inventory, okay? Try to find it---it's going to take you a while.
Shuttleworth: There are something like 17,000 pieces of loose
equipment up there. You'd think that everything is docu-
mented, that everything has its fixed place, as it were. But it's
just too big and complex for that.
Garriott: It is cluttered, but then after a while you realize, well,
that's true if you're thinking in 2-D, but once your brain shifts
to 3-D, you realize that it isn't. I'd be in the middle of filming, on
camera in this fairly tight space, and people would cross the floor
or the ceiling and not be bothering me at all, or vice versa.
Simonyi: If you leave something on the table, and then your
worldview changes, now your wall becomes your floor. You
don't automatically know where to look for the thing that you
left on the table. It's like being in a di erent space. You don't
necessarily recognize it. You can easily get disoriented.
Shuttleworth: Your body very strongly wants a sense of what's
up and what's down, but those concepts are meaningless.
What's interesting is that at some level, you maintain a sense
of where the earth is. That's when you were most conscious
of actually floating, because it felt like you were floating along
horizontally. It wasn't so magical, but then being able to turn
around and then dive into what felt like a well---the docking
module, which was dropped down to Earth---that was pretty
radical. Whereas the other piece o at an angle was the airlock,
which was oriented o to the right, as it were, as you were mov-
ing down the very galaxy toward the U.S. end of the station. I
had a good relationship with NASA, so there wasn't any sort
of artificial constraint on where I was supposed to go and not
supposed to go, which would have been weird.
Simonyi: I had an arrangement with NASA: I could call friends
from space. Fantastic.
Olsen: The phone service is limited. It depends on where you
are in relation to the communication satellites. But I would
say on the average we only had maybe 10 minutes an hour. I
was very conscious of the cosmonauts who'd been away from
home for six months. In my opinion, they had priority over
me, so I tried to be very respectful of their time.
Simonyi: It's a big deal for the astronauts and cosmonauts. The
Russian space agency made the same deal; the cosmonauts
could use those sort of Americanized assets. We have a head-
set plugged into a normal PC, and you go into Skype and you
use the Skype interface.
Garriott: My first call was to my mother. The next call was to
my girlfriend, Kelly, and her daughter. And then finally I made
a call to the mayor of the city of Austin.
Olsen: With e-mail, NASA would only let addresses through
that I already preapproved. I gave them a list of a hundred.
Simonyi: The thing about the e-mail is that---and you know, it's
kind of sad---it had to be vetted by NASA. They worry about
product promotion. And in fact, at one point I was writing a blog
entry from the station, saying, "Wow, the champagne [on launch
day] wasn't that great. The next time I will bring Dom Pérignon"---
which I will. It was kind of a joke. I mean, I completely forgot.
And so they caught it. To me it just seems so petty, so unneces-
sary. Is that what Mr. Spock is going to do? Explore new worlds
and new civilizations and worry about whether somebody acci-
dentally says "Dom Pérignon"? I mean, come on!
For working astronauts and cosmonauts, every minute of every
day on the ISS is scheduled, so mealtimes are the one chance that
the space tourists get to really interact with the natives.
Shuttleworth: We took turns making dinner. It was lovely.
Ansari: We had brought some fresh tomatoes and a few fresh
fruits, and it was sort of a celebration.
Olsen: In general it's kind of like backpacking food. But the
NASA shrimp cocktails were really good.
Simonyi: There's only one place to eat on the space station,
which is in the Russian segment. That's where the heater is,
the food heater. An oven, if you will.
Garriott: The galley table is covered with spoons that are stand-
ing up like trees, because they put double-sided tape on the
FROM THE LAB Anousheh Ansari with, left to right, Flight
Engineer Mikhail Tyurin and Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, in
the laboratory module of the International Space Station.
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