A Day in the Life
You're having pleasant dreams when a whining electric tone suggests it's time
to get up. You find yourself zipped into a sleeping bag, which is strapped onto
the wall of one module of the Russian space station Mir, which is hurtling
through space in Earth's orbit. Click on the highlighted hours of the clocks
to find out what the day has in store.
It's 8:00 a.m. in Moscow—though you may be up to 300 miles over Buenos
Aires—and a new day is beginning.
You dress in your Mir uniform—a simple zip-up suit over a tee-shirt—and pull
yourself through the module, named Kvant-2,
to the Transfer Node
that links to the other five modules. A ninety-degree-turn in the Node, and you
float into the Base Block, the main module,
where your colleagues—two
Russian cosmonauts—have woken to the same alarm. They have already dressed and
used the Personal Hygiene Area, so you enter it, use the water-recycling
toilet, and join them in the main cabin.
You say good morning and talk a bit, and then you all don headsets for the
first communications pass, or "comm pass," of the day. Once every orbit—about
every 90 minutes—while passing over one of the communications ground sites in
Russia, you talk to mission control. The Russians speak with their supervisors,
and you generally talk to the NASA flight director, who is at Russian mission
control. He or she is coordinating your activities with the scientists whose
experiments you're running.
You discuss how your experiments are going, receive instructions from the
scientists whose projects you're working on, and exchange any other information
necessary. These comm passes also provide you with welcome 10-minute breaks
during your work day and give you a few minutes to hang out with your
After the morning's first comm pass, it's time for breakfast. The three of you
eat together, floating around the galley table in Base Block. You may
have a bag of Russian soup, and a bag of fruit juice, both of which you "cook"
out of dehydration with hot water, as you do most of your food.
After breakfast, the work day begins. Work schedules for the following day are
sent via radio and faxed to Mir every day after supper on Russian Space Agency
Form 24; your Form 24 entries are based mainly on assignments from NASA. While
your crewmates spend most of their day maintaining Mir's systems, you also get
to work on experiments.
Today you're working in the Priroda module on a biology experiment.
Priroda is packed with instrumentation to allow a wide variety of
experimentation on everything from developmental biology to air pollution to
This feature is based in part on an article by astronaut Shannon Lucid
published in Scientific American, May, 1998.
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