Hello everyone.  This is NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson ready to answer your questions about being an astronaut, mission training, and what it’s like to live in space.

Have a question for me? Ask it here, then watch the answers here.

The Sokol Suit

The launch and entry suit that we wear in the Soyuz is called a Sokol.  It would protect us in case of a depressurization of the vehicle. During dynamic phases of flight (launch, entry and docking to the station), we wear the suit…but luckily, for the rest of the two days before docking, we will be able to just wear a flight suit.

The suit has an inner bladder that serves as the leak tight barrier, but first we have to get into the suit (pull up the legs first and put arms in next, and then with some ducking, shrugging and grunting, put my head through the helmet ring).  

The hole that we got into the suit through, then has to be sealed.

We fold the heavy rubber-like plastic together and wrap some very sophisticated rubber bands around it, then lace and zip up the outer covering.  

Since the suit is designed to be “comfortable” while lying on your back with your knees up nearly to your chest, it is difficult to walk in, without looking a bit like a Neanderthal (shoulders rounded, with a large space on the back side). Do not judge the size of my backside by the Sokol suit…it really isn’t THAT big.  

Peggy Whitson checking on a soybean plant in the ISS. Experiments like these are not only important to research biological processes in space and experiment with food production in space stations, they also give the astronauts an opportunity to see plants again. That might seem trivial, but when you are hurling in a metal box through space, it is nice to encounter something living and green.

Photo Source: NASA2Explore

The NASA Village

Today in the NASA Village… They Said Man Was Not Meant to Fly.

One of the beautiful things that people often forget is how wondrous spaceflight is. Not because anything will come from it, but simply because we’re able to do it. 

Nick Pavlow is one of the divers that works at the NBL, today he said, “They said man was not meant to fly. They said we’d never put a man on the moon. Today they say we will not go to Mars. They have a lot of opinions about things they know nothing about. Always take what “they” say with a truckload of salt. Remember “They” are human too. And most of them only say things because someone else told them that’s how it was. Seek your own answers, find your own way. And if the solutions are not the ones you find acceptable, change the equation.  And you don’t have to be an Einstein to do this. Einstein’s real genius was in the passion he put into figuring out a problem. We can all work with this caliber of passion no matter what the pursuit.”

Nick is a diver, but on my training day he was helping lower us into the pool. The spacesuit is so heavy we need a crane to lower us safely into the water.  

With the growing interest in commercial space projects, training facilities like the Neutral Buoyancy Lab are only going to become more important. Our entire NASA Village is essentially on the front lines of teams that will eventually be created to start other commercial ventures around the world. Imagine being the lead diver or training supervisor or even an engineer that begins a commercial project, thus expanding and advancing our capabilities in space. Without the interest and support from millions of Americans on the ground we will not be able to achieve all that we can. Imagine the opportunity a diver has in possibly bridging the gap between astronauts and support staff.

Nick says, “I don’t think I will ever be a diver that goes into space, but that person is out there and that time is quickly approaching if it’s not already here. It would be an extreme honor to see someone from my team get to have that experience.”

Check out How NASA is directly benefiting humanity in Eye on the Tide: 

Next time on the NASA Village: Environmental Monitoring: How Clean is it?

Do you want more stories?  Find our NASA Villagers here!

It’s a U.S. Record! Cumulative Days in Space: 383

Today, Astronaut Scott Kelly has broken the record for longest time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut! Over the course of his four missions, Kelly has spent 383 cumulative days in space. This record was previously held by Astronaut Mike Fincke, with 382 days in space over three flights. Here are some more fun facts about this milestone:

  • 4: The number of humans that have spent a year or more in orbit on a single mission
  • 215 Days: The record currently held by Mike Lopez-Alegria for most time on a single spaceflight by U.S. astronaut. On Oct. 29, Kelly will break this record
  • 377 Days: The current record for most days in space by a U.S. female astronaut, held by Peggy Whitson
  • 879 Days: The record for most cumulative days in space by a human, currently held by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka

Why Spend a Year in Space?

Kelly’s One-Year Mission is an important stepping stone on our journey to Mars and other deep space destinations. These investigations are expected to yield beneficial knowledge on the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by astronauts during long-duration spaceflight.

Kelly is also involved in the Twins Study, which consists of ten separate investigations that are being conducted with his twin brother, who is on Earth. Since we are able to study two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments for one year, we can gain a broader insight into the subtle effects and changes that may occur in spaceflight.

For regular updates on Kelly’s one-year mission aboard the space station, follow him on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Fic: Vegas, Baby

Title: Vegas, Baby (1/?)
Author: Emma Grant ( @emmagrant01)
Fandom: Check Please ( @omgcheckplease)
Series: Something Like This
Pairing: Kent Parson/Taylor Whitton (OMC)
Rating: Explicit
Summary: When Jack and Bitty went to Montreal, Taylor Whitton went to Las Vegas.
Length: 6300 words this chapter

Notes: This fic takes place during chapters 41-43 of the main story. It’s a WIP, and I’m not sure how long it will be. Please note that I probably won’t be able to get back to it until the main story is finished, but I think chapter 1 stands alone pretty well.

I just thought a little porny fic might help on this no good, very bad day. <3

Thanks to DrinkingCocoa, Esterbrook, and Nautilicious for their comments!

Link: Chapter 1