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.
Shuttleworth: That’s quite a big tradition with the Russians. They have a stamp made for each ISS mission. People take postcards and envelopes and get them franked up there.
Olsen: I took an iPod, lots of photographs. My iPod, I had everything from opera to rock ‘n’ roll on there.
Garriott: I had a good friend, who writes the Dragonlance series of books for the company that makes Dungeons and Dragons, write me a screenplay. The story is basically that my mother had snuck up [to the space station] on the supply vehicle.
Ansari: The unmanned cargo mission that goes up before the manned flight takes some of your clothing, some of your food, a package that has your personal toiletries. But I wasn’t supposed to be a primary member–Dice-K was. They said that they had changed it at the last minute, but when I got up there, the packages that they had sent up were still Dice-K’s packages. I had his shaving cream, a razor, cologne, and things like that. They didn’t have any of the things that I could use except for the toothbrush and the toothpaste. Fortunately, I took some stuff with me. I didn’t have to wear his underwear.
Olsen: I had a little camera that I lost because I put it in my pocket and forgot to close the zipper.
Shuttleworth: The only thing I can recall going awry was breaking my camera up there. It was after hours and I was trying to get a night shot, and I put the memory card in the wrong way around or something. That was very frustrating.
Ansari: I was always losing things. I would write something, then put the pen down, forgetting that the pen would float off the table. I lost my lipstick, my lip gloss.
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 difficult 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 stuff 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 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.
Shuttleworth: There are something like 17,000 pieces of loose equipment up there. You’d think that everything is documented, 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 different 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 off at an angle was the airlock, which was oriented off to the right, as it were, as you were moving 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.