|Travis - What is the most important part of your job, Bill? The most important part of my job is to keep the orbiter in tip top shape. As the pilot, I help to maintain all the systems onboard. I have many additional jobs as well.|
|Driskoll - What is your favorite freeze dried space meal? I've enjoyed many. In fact, I haven't had a bad one yet. One I didn't think I would enjoy too much, but have, is the oatmeal. I guess that's because it's like the instant oatmeal I take when I go camping.|
|Morgan - Does it make you feel weird when you blast off? The launch was more fun than I imagined. You shake a lot when the solid rocket boosters ignite. Then you get pressed into your seat pretty hard as you accelerate up to the speed you need to stay in orbit.|
|Moriah - How many miles will you go on this mission?
Don't know for sure. Probably millions. Maybe you could do the math: We are going 17,500 miles per hour. We will be up here for about 13 days total. Knowing there are 24 hours in a day, you could probably solve that problem - or ask your teacher to show you.
|John, young visitor to the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska - How many miles away from Earth is the Space Shuttle Discovery?
We are in an orbit that is about 180 nautical miles above Earth.
|Christopher: Do astronauts use any robots to help them in space? Yes. We have two robotic arms up here. I have operated the one on Discovery.|
|Sean: How do you get air to the ISS? We bring the air up on the Space Shuttle or Russian Progress re-supply ships.|
|Kenny : Do you have to be in the military to be an astronaut? No.
In fact, most astronauts are not military.
What happens if the astronauts get sick on the ISS? We have medicines and equipment, much like a paramedic, to take care of sicknesses and injuries.
How do they take a shower if they are going to be up on the ISS for so long? We can't take showers. We take sponge baths with a wash cloth, a towel, soap and water. We just have to make sure our soap doesn't float away.
How can we identify the ISS in the night sky from earth? The ISS will look like a bright star, quickly going across the sky. However, Alaska is far enough north that the ISS will not fly directly over it. Even with that, we are high enough that when we get close to Alaska, we can sneak peeks at the very southern part of the state.
|Conner: How does zero gravity affect your body during long missions?
It makes you lose bone density and muscle mass unless you exercise a lot.
What happens if there is a leak in the ISS? We have procedures to take care of most emergencies we may come across and have received a lot of training and practiced many times in the event an emergency may arise.
Thanks for the great questions. I hope to have time later in the mission to write again. In
the mean time, study hard and enjoy your upcoming Christmas break. And enjoy the snow for
me. I don't get as much as I like these days.
Your friend -
|Jamie and Daniel: Did you ever think you were not good enough to be an astronaut? I never really thought about it. I just wanted to fly airplanes, and I always thought I was good enough to do that.|
|Logan: If you played sports in high school, what did you play? I played football in high school. I enjoyed it very, very much, and it continues to be my favorite sport.|
|Sienna: Did you have any animals growing up? What were they, and what were their names? My family always had dogs. Mostly, Great Danes, but we had some "mutts" – mixes of different breeds. I loved every one of them. I most recently had some Boxers as pets. They are great dogs. Friendly, and they are very family oriented.|
|Jaden: What was your favorite and most embarrassing experience at NASA? Hard to say. Each day is a great day, and each training session offers the chance to excel or not. I just strive to do my best.|
|Bailey: What got you interested in being an astronaut? About 10 years ago when I was doing test pilot work for the Navy. I found out all space shuttle pilots were former test pilots, so I thought I would give that a try.|
|Brittany: Did you find the training to be an astronaut really hard? Not really. Probably the hardest training I did in my Navy career was studying to become a Test Pilot. There was a lot of math and science required, in addition to the precise flying and report writing we had to do. Second was when I went through TOPGUN. That was some of the most intense, yet fun, flying I have ever had the privilege of doing.|
To all my friends in Alaska, and elsewhere, thanks for your support and interest in this mission. Remember, this is OUR space program. We can all be proud of that. It belongs to all of us and will be what we choose to make it. I will do my part to make it successful.
Off for final preparations for tomorrow’s launch.
Dec. 3, 2006 -- Just arrived at Kennedy Space Center today. We are very
busy and it's really starting to hit home that we are about to embark on a great
adventure. So many people have worked so long and so hard to get this mission
to this point. I feel very privileged to be a part of it.
I wish to share this experience through periodic postings, however, I am not quite sure how much time the mission workload will allow toward this desire. I will do my best to pass on what's happening as it does, but regardless of the writings, I am proud to know my friends and family from the Great State of Alaska, as well as elsewhere, will be watching and cheering me on. I will do my best to make you proud.
Let me take a moment to answer some questions:
|What inspired you to want to become an astronaut? I didn't grow up always wanting to be an astronaut. I grew up wanting to fly airplanes. As I progressed through my Navy Test Pilot career, I saw an opportunity to take this flying to a different level - that of flying the space shuttle. So the inspiration came from the continuous challenge to become a better pilot.|
|Who are the most influential people in your life? It would have to be my mom and dad. They have always been there - through good times and bad.|
|Is there an age limit to being an astronaut? How old were you when you became an astronaut? I'm not sure what the maximum or minimum age limits to being an astronaut may be. Consider checking the NASA Web site. More important is the experience level from previous jobs that help to become an astronaut, and the ability and opportunity to perform the tasks necessary for spaceflight that determine how long you may stay around. In my case, I was selected for astronaut training when I was 33 years old.|
|What was the most difficult part of your astronaut training? How long did your training take? There are various parts of astronaut training that are challenging, but none I would really classify as difficult. Hard work and a positive attitude will carry you far and will bring those things that may seem difficult or impossible closer to becoming a reality.|
|Is the vomit comet really that bad? No. It's a ton of fun. But you need to take it easy at the beginning. The people that get sick are typically the ones who don't adapt slowly and try to do too many things too quickly. This actually is true for spaceflight where we say "when you first get up there, slower is faster."|
It's hard to believe, after nearly 5 years of training for this particular
mission, I will get to apply that principle myself in a few days.