Life on the Space Station
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Let's go 250 miles above the Earth now to the space shuttle Discovery. It's been circling the Earth this week. The crew delivered parts for the Japanese space lab "Kibo" to the International Space Station. We're joined now by Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Volkov of the Russian Federation Air Force. He commands the International Space Station. He's been up there since April 8. And a U.S. Navy Commander, Mark Kelly, who is leading this space shuttle expedition. Mark, thanks for calling. I've got to ask. We've heard so much about it. Is the toilet working?
Commander MARK KELLY (U.S. Navy Commander, Leader of Space Shuttle Expedition): The toilet is working. We brought the parts and Sergei and Oleg fixed it the other day. I'll let him comment.
Lieutenant Colonel SERGEI VOLKOV (Russian Federation Air Force): So far, it works successfully and the unit is like in the normal way and they even can share this with our shuttle guys.
SIMON: Mark, what has the workweek been like?
Commander KELLY: We work from basically the second we wake up until the second we go to sleep, more or less. Our flight lasts 14 days, and we opened the hatch on day three of our mission, just about 48 hours into it. We come aboard the space station with a lot of equipment and we've already done two space walks. It's been very successful and satisfying.
SIMON: It's your third trip, Mark. And Lt. Col. Volkov, you've been up there just since April 8th alone. Does the view ever become old stuff?
Commander KELLY: The view to me - this is my third flight, so I probably had, I don't know, about a little over 30 days in space right now. It does not become old to me. I love, you know, looking down at our planet. Sergei has more time in space than I do now. So I'll let him comment about looking at the planet.
Lieutenant Colonel VOLKOV: The sunrise. It's probably the most beautiful what you can see or you can imagine.
Commander KELLY: You know, it's amazing to look down and you don't see borders between countries. We can make out cities, especially at night. See where the population centers and it's - you know, it's incredible to think that you know, we're far away circling the planet and the rest of humanity is down underneath us.
SIMON: What kind of research will be possible once the Kibo is working?
Commander KELLY: Kibo is going to do research in material science, life sciences, basic physics and chemistry. Interesting thing about science and space, unlike any laboratory on Earth - laboratory on Earth, you know, you can control the temperature of your experiment, pressure, the humidity, all those things. You can't control gravity. And gravity affects everything.
SIMON: Does it ever seem a natural environment to you?
Commander KELLY: You know, as a kid, I used to dream what it would be like to fly around like Superman, and that's one thing you can do here.
SIMON: Well, Mark Kelly, commander of the space shuttle Discovery and Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Volkov of the Russian Air Force who's the commander of the Space Station. Thank you both very much for speaking with us from 250 miles above Earth.