Home' Technology Review : January February 2009 Contents ORAL HISTORY 67
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table. You can just tap the bottom end of your spoon handle
on the table and it sticks there. That's one of the first lessons,
the three-dimensional use of space.
Ansari: [Dinner] was my favorite time on board the station,
because during the day, everyone is busy. This is the only
chance you get to sit---of course, not sit, because there are no
chairs to sit on---to float around the table and talk. For me, it
was really great to debate some of my beliefs. Advertising, for
example: What's wrong with it? I know especially NASA is
dead against that, and I was arguing with some of them about
it. "So what if you have a can of Coke here?" I asked. We had
long arguments. I found them very interesting.
Garriott: It's very di cult to put six around the little dinner
table. The dinner table is usually full with four or five people
right-side up. Then one or two people the other way, using
the ceiling as the floor.
Ansari: One of the first nights I was there, [the commander]
asked me to pass the bread to him, because it was next to where
I was standing. I took the bread and handed it to him. He was
like, "No, that's not the way they do it in space. You have to
throw it." I was like, "They told me not to throw food at anyone."
"But you're not on Earth, you're in space. You have to throw it.
You take the whole fun out of it, the way you do it."
Simonyi: Yeah, that's fun. Especially in the beginning, we kind
of told our stories and reflected on what we were doing.
Garriott: I am here to tell you that one of the most common dis-
cussions amongst astronauts who live and work in space is the
finer points of how to work with the life support systems, par-
ticularly the toilets. The Russian toilet actually works the best.
Olsen: [My doctor] asked me all the questions: "We got your
heartbeat, any problems?" Blah, blah, blah. Third day, fourth
day came: "You go yet, Greg?" "No." The fifth day: "No." He
said, "Don't worry. World record is 14 days. You'll never beat
it." It took me six days to go.
Garriott: A lot of people get constipated up there. But even if you
don't, you are still going with very, very, low frequency. In my 12
days in space, I had to use the rest room three times.
Olsen: I remember we had this long conversation about what
we were going to do when we got back. I was more enthralled
with "Hey, I'm in space." But [Commander] Krikalyov and
John Phillips [the NASA science o cer] had been in space for
six months now. They're getting really anxious. I remember
Phillips said, "I just want beer and pizza. That would be it for
me." Krikalyov joined in and said, "I just want to have a co ee,
but not this crap we have here. I want the kind of co ee that I
could hold to my nose and smell."
Simonyi: The returning crews are anxious to return. We were
delayed by two days. They were up there for more than six
months. I was celebrating: two extra days! And these guys were
all, "Oh my God, I was supposed to be back. I was dreaming
about this day, and now I have to wait two more days!"
Garriott: [My movie] begins with my actual departure from
the space station with people waving. "Bye-bye, Richard, bye-
bye." Then it goes to "Wow, man, I'm sure glad we got rid of
that guy---all he would ever talk about is video games. Ultima
this, Tabula Rasa that. Whew, glad he's gone." And after a bit of
humorous life on board, they determine that there's too much
oxygen being used for the number of crew that are currently
on the station. So they believe an alien is on board, and they
go searching for it, and instead they find my mother.
The flight back to Earth takes three and a half hours from undock-
ing to landing, and on the way down, the Soyuz sheds two of its
three sections. Both the service module, with its solar panels and
communication equipment, and the habitation module (or "living
room") burn up in the atmosphere. The heat-shielded reëntry mod-
ule, containing the cosmonauts, deploys a succession of parachutes
and retro-rockets to slow the spacecraft before impact.
Garriott: Packing up is a sad time. When you say your good-
byes, they try to do that live on camera, and then they rush you
o and undock quickly, for safety reasons. So it's really kind of
a rushed and harried good-bye, which is really quite tearful.
Shuttleworth: I thought the flight down was the best bit of
the whole thing. Just from the physics perspective, it's very
dynamic. The launch is kind of sterile: you're 15 meters away
from the engines, which is where all the action is. On the
"The space station is so messy. Words don't do justice. 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." ---Charles Simonyi
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