Anousheh Ansari Space Blog

September 28, 2006

The wave from space

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 4:54 pm

Email between cousins — one on Earth and one in space

From: Afshin Shahidi
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 06:15
Subject: days into nights

Hi Anousheh joon,

I just met up with Amir for dinner and he showed me some video of you from the space station. First, you look fantastic, I love the jumpsuit with the american and iranian flags on it. Very nice. Second, it seems like the time has gone by very fast, I’m sure even faster for you as you now prepare to come back. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have to leave.

Like when reading a great book, you don’t ever want it to end. I’m sure you realize though that you are only finishing a chapter in this book and that there is plenty more to read. Your book is being written everyday and the events that you have put in motion in this chapter will bring you more joy and opportunities in the upcoming chapters. All this to say that as sad as it may be, coming home will give you the chance to go back again which I know you will very soon.

You know that we all miss you here and can’t wait to see you and talk to you. Think of coming home as going back to school in the fall, although this time you come back as the teacher. You will see old friends but there will always be in your heart and mind the bliss and thrill of your summer and the comfort in knowing that it will be summer again soon. So come back and warm and inspire us with your noor for a bit before heading back into the cosmos.

“All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You–you alone–will have the stars as no one else has them–”

The Little Prince was mis-titled. It should have been The Little Princess.

Safe and Happy Travels.

Over and out until I see you.

Love

Afshin

– – – – – –

From: JSC-ISSCREW1
Sent: 9/28/06 9:14 AM

Afshin Khoobam,

Reading your email brought tears to my eyes… Specially the little excerpt from the Little Prince… I cannot tell you if it was tears of sadness or content… but it was so beautifully written that I have asked that it be posted on the blog… I hope you don’t mind!…

I do hope to be able to continue writing new chapters for this book. To be honest I hoped that one day me or someone else would be able to start something that is contagious and that it would make all the young people in the world to unite and change our world… Reading the messages I have received, I can see the start of this wave and I hope I can do my part to keep it going… I feel I have a big responsibility now and I have to figure out how to best fulfill my part…

I do know that I will experience weightlessness again and I look forward to it… but no matter what, saying goodbye is a hard thing…

With all my love from the Orbit…
Anousheh

On leaving Orbit

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 3:51 pm

Hello World,

I’m writing my last blog from orbit. It is a bittersweet feeling…

We just finished our last supper in orbit. We had a few fresh tomatoes that we brought up on the Soyuz and had been saving for a special occasion, along with some smoked fish and other usual space food. Jeff Williams, the flight engineer on my return flight, welcomed the Expedition 14 crew and wished them a successful expedition.

Misha Tyurin then gave a beautiful speech… I thought he has read my blog because his sentiment echoed what I had been writing about. He talked about how we are people from different countries, backgrounds and cultures and by being here together, working and living together we have established a special bond. He continued, “One day the space station will outlive its useful life and deorbit and burn in the atmosphere but the memories of this trip and our friendship will outlast all of these…”

Sting was playing in the background, singing “how fragile we are…” Then Misha told me he had a special surprise for me… He gave me his personal badge, the badge of Cosmonauts and his name tag plus the little Bear that was hanging inside our capsule during liftoff, called “Misha.” You probably saw it in the Liftoff video. He told me “Misha” is the zero G sensor for the trip.

His speech and his special gifts were so touching that I could not hold my tears anymore. I had tried all day to keep it all inside and to act as if everything is fine but inside I felt I was losing something special… It is true that you establish a bond up here that is hard to break. For the past 10 days I had trusted my life in the hands of Misha and LA, they had been wonderful and took care of me like their own sister… They have made this trip so incredibly special for me that I’m sure I will never forget them…

It is hard for me to write tonight. My emotions are high and there are millions of thoughts going trough my head. Every few minutes the tears that I have been holding back come to the surface and my throat starts hurting and then I swallow it all back down again and try to catch my train of thoughts… I was nowhere near this emotional on my launch day. I guess I’m good with beginnings but not with endings…

I keep going to different corners of the station and try to hold on tight, in my memory, to what I’m seeing and feeling. Several times I just let myself float freely and tumble around like a feather caught in a breeze to see where I would end up.

I looked out the window a lot and thought to myself, “I don’t know when I will see this view again.” I tried to play some of my favorite songs. This morning at breakfast I played “Only if you want to” by Enya. It energized me. Throughout the day I kept whistling “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “My Favorite Things.”

I tried to focus on the positives… Tomorrow I will see my Husband after a long time… I miss him so much. It has been a hard six months for both of us… He is my soul mate. We had been inseparable up until this trip… He has been trying to be the strong tough guy who is the anchor of my life… but I know inside he has been burning up. He will have the first sigh of relief when he hears that they have pulled us out of the capsule.

I was also just talking to my sister and I could hear in her voice how anxious she was and how scared she was of losing me… I promised her that I will be fine and will be with her in a few days… I could tell she was crying but trying hard not to let it show in her voice.

The descent usually takes about four hours and it is a rough ride down with a big impactful landing at the end. The Soyuz will look like a little ball of fire as it enters the atmosphere. Then the parachutes will deploy and yank the capsule and swing it all over the place to slow us down a little and at the last stage the landing thruster will come on and prevent us from hitting the ground like a meteor. I am not worried about it too much… I have other things to worry about like when I will be able to feel this exhilarated and free again…

My trip is coming to an end but my dreams have just started.

You tell me in your messages that I have inspired you… Well I have to admit you all have inspired me right back… Every time I feel like I’m drowning in the sadness of my departure from the space station, I try to reach for one of your messages and pull myself out and look forward to what we can all do together.

May be this was all meant to be this way. My sudden trip to Moscow and the last minute change in crew. May be I was supposed to be the alarm clock that awakens that little voice inside of each and every one of you so you can all start changing our world to a better place to live for all of us… May be I was meant to inspire that young scientist who will become the one who comes up with the “Warp engine.” May be I was supposed to remind all of us of our infinite possibilities… May be… May be… May be…

There are many thoughts flowing through my head and I ‘m not sure I know what I’m supposed to be or do… I have never calculated my moves and planned that far ahead… I sort of usually have a destination and then I let the voice inside guide me to my destination… I always knew in my heart that I would go to space, but did not know exactly how. But I kept telling everyone how much I love space and I want to go to space, and finally found the way…

My destination tomorrow will be Earth… But the Earth is not the same Earth that I left. It is a little bit better now because there is more love in it. I can see it from your written words that are sent to me in the emails… I only hope that I can help grow this wave of positive energy that we have started and to make sure it touches more and more people.

They say smile and the world smiles with you… I can tell you from practice that is true… I was told over and over again that my smile is contagious… I hope it contaminates you as well 🙂 Because when you smile it is that much harder for someone to say “no” to you…or to hate you… or to hurt you…

So tonight, when you go to bed, go to bed with a big smile on your face and see how you feel tomorrow, when you wake up… don’t forget to keep that smile on for the rest of the day…and until you hear that I have touched down…

Live long, prosper and be happy my friends…

Timeline for Today

Filed under: Space Explorer — by X PRIZE @ 5:39 am

kindly provided by Peter Guelzow, President AMSAT-DL, with all times converted to UTC.

Anousheh’s trip to the ISS took about two days from launch to docking, but the return to Earth takes only less than 3.5 hours.

NASA TV will cover the farewell ceremony and closing of the hatches is planned for Thursday, September 28, 18:35:00 UTC.

The Expedition 13 crew and Anousheh Ansari will then prepare to depart. Only the German astronaut Thomas Reiter will stay a few more months until December, before he is scheduled to return home.

Soyuz TMA-8 is scheduled to land in Kazakhstan at 01:10 UTC on September 29.

Soyuz TMA-9 will be the return vehicle for the Expedition 14 crew.

* Undocking −00:00 / Landing −03:23:00

Separation command to begin opening hooks and latches that hold the Soyuz spacecraft to a docking port on the Space Station.

* Undocking +03:00 / Landing −03:20:00

Hooks opened. Soyuz begins physical separation from the Pirs docking compartment at 0.1 meters per second.

* Undocking +06:00 / Landing −03:17:00

A 15-second separation burn when the Soyuz is about 20 meters from the Station.

* Undocking +02:29 / Landing −00:54:00

When the Soyuz is at a distance of about 19 km from the ISS, the engines fire for a 4-minute, 21-second deorbit burn.

* Undocking +02:57 / Landing −00:26

The unoccupied Orbital Module separates from the Descent Module and burns up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.

* Undocking +03:00 / Landing −00:23

The Soyuz reaches Entry Interface – 121 920 meters in altitude – 31 minutes after the deorbit burn.

* Undocking +03:08 / Landing −00:15

Parachutes are commanded to deploy. Two Pilot Parachutes are deployed, the second of which extracts the Drogue Chute. The Drogue slows the spacecraft’s descent from a rate of 230 meters per second to 80 meters per second.

The Main Parachute is then released. It slows the Soyuz to a descent rate of 7.2 meters per second. First, its harnesses allow the Soyuz to descend at an angle of 30 degrees to expel heat, then it shifts the Soyuz to a straight vertical descent.

* Undocking +03:23 / Landing −00:02

Six Soft Landing Engines fire to slow the vehicle’s descent rate to 1.5 meters per second just 0.8 meters above the ground.

Soyuz lands.

N8MS Ham Radio Contact

Filed under: Ham Radio,Space Explorer — by X PRIZE @ 4:04 am

To: Anousheh FanMail
Subject: ham radio recording–N8MS

Good evening Anousheh!

I have attached a copy of our ham radio conversation from Thursday; I thought you might enjoy it. As you will hear, it only has your side of the contact because I did not have time to set up a radio to record both parts of the conversation.

Thanks again for making Science become so real for my kids! It was quite an inspiration! Because of our conversation, I have one young lady that proclaims she will be the second woman civilian aboard the ISS, and I have no doubt that she will make it!

Have a safe return tomorrow. You will be in my thoughts!

Matt Severin, N8MS
Coloma Junior High School
Coloma MI

September 27, 2006

Thank You from Space

Filed under: Space Explorer — by X PRIZE @ 9:26 pm

This just in from AnoushehAnsari.com — check out the new Videos Page there!

Here is a special Thank You to the readers and writers here on Anousheh’s blog:

Thank God for Velcro

Filed under: Space Explorer — by Anousheh @ 4:48 pm

Being in weightlessness has its wonderful advantages…

You can lift a 500 lb block with one hand and move it around with one finger… You can fly and float around instead of walking… you can do somersaults at any age… and you can play with your food.

As I have said before, everything is effortless. If you want to move forward you slightly touch a wall or any other solid object with one finger and you start moving in the opposite direction of the force you applied. People are blocking your way in the hallway, no worries, you flip to the ceiling and just like Spiderman crawl the ceiling over their head using the bar handles on the walls (of course you cannot crawl but it looks like you are crawling).

You forgot your book at the other side of the module, no problem… you ask someone close to it to send it to you … that means they pick it up and very gently push it toward you, and here it is… your book flying to you all the way from the other side. Your friend is having a candy and you ask if you can have some, so he gently throws a piece your way and it comes flying into your open mouth… (Kids please don’t try any of these in Gravity 🙂 )

In space it is okay to play with your food. The astronauts and cosmonauts all do. The cheese puffs are not put into the mouth by hand, they are slightly jolted out of the container and flown to your mouth. When you open a bag of soft food like yogurt or soup, if you are not really really careful, small yogurt bubbles or soup bubbles start floating around and then you can catch them with your spoon. But if you try to catch them too fast, one bubble hits your spoon and becomes 10 smaller bubbles and now you have to catch ten of them!

I truly enjoy weightlessness… You feel like a free spirit. I remember when I was very young, for a long period of time I had this constant dream that, to the amazement of my family, I was floating from one room to the next in our house and I was amazed at my ability to do that. Of course, in my dream, I was expert at it and I was able to float around with my will power and not by touching things around me.

In reality though, I’m a rookie… I fly around hitting walls and dislodging things. The first few days I would push against a wall too hard and end up flying too fast to the other wall, not being able to stop and BANG! I would hit the other wall and bounce back toward where I started from… Recently, however, I was complimented on how professionally I fly! It was very flattering 🙂

I guess the closest thing to moving in weightlessness is floating in water. But there is a major difference. In water when you move your arms and legs, you move… in here you can move your arms and legs all you want, but you are not going anywhere. The only thing that can help you move is the gentle air flow from the fans…

The guys up here wanted to show me how this concept works so they put me in the middle of the Node, which is one of the American Modules, and I couldn’t reach anything to push myself… so I was just floating in the middle of the Node and no matter how much I moved myself I did not go anywhere. They were all laughing at me and finally the gentle breeze from the fan slowly got me close to a handle on the ceiling and I was able to free myself 🙂

So now keeping this in mind, today when you are working, imagine there is no gravity so not only are you floating, everything around you is floating too. Can you imagine that? You are sitting at your computer typing…. well… you can’t sit because nothing will keep you in your seat, unless you strap yourself down to a chair that is bolted to the floor… So since you cannot sit, let’s stand… well, you cannot stand still either because every key stroke pushes you further form the keyboard.

So what do people do in space when they want to stay in one place and do something? They use their feet to secure themselves. They stick their feet under these bars that are all over the place or find something to anchor their feet. That is why, the first day I arrived on the station, Pasha gave me these soft Eskimo lamb skin boots… I didn’t know why and did not wear them. Then at night when I went to bed, I noticed that the top of my feet had small bruises and hurt a little. In space you learn to use your toes well. I don’t think I ever paid any attention to them on Earth, but up here, your big toe is a powerful tool to hold you in place.

So let’s continue working… You want to read something from a book so you put the book on the table, butl it doesn’t stay… You put your soda pop bottle on top of it to keep it down, now you have the book flying with your pop bottle, so you hold it down with one hand but now the bottle is flying, so you quickly grab the bottle with the other hand, and then the phone rings… You put the book on the table to pickup the handset and as soon as you do that the book starts flying again and you try to control the handset but now it’s floating away…

You get the picture… So God invented Velcro for this very purpose… to keep things in place in weightlessness. Everything here has Velcro attached to it…even your pants have Velcro strips. I thought things could be secured if I put them in my pockets and closed the zipper. Well they are secured until you open the zipper and take one out… here comes the other small items flying out.. Shhhh! don’t tell anyone up here but I’ve lost a few little things already, like my lip-gloss 😉

So basically everything you own should have Velcro attached to it. There are bags of Velcro strips with different shapes and colors up here and they are used all over the place. You just have to remember that if you let anything go, it does not stay in the same place and that makes performing tasks a little more challenging up here.

All in all though, it is a wonderful feeling to float… and my biggest challenge before I leave is to see how long I can stay floating in one place without hitting anything. You have to stand still and not exert any force on any thing. So far I can only do 25 seconds before I’m carried away…

It’s time for me to go savor the last few days onboard…

Til’ later…

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