1. What do you think you do on the international space station in astronautics?

Astronauts on the space station stay busy. There is a lot of work to operate the many science experiments on board. The crew also has to make sure that the station is in top shape, so they clean, check equipment, maintain and repair or replace broken equipment. Crew members also must exercise two hours each day to stay fit and keep their bones and muscles strong. Sometimes we need to do a spacewalk to work outside the station in our space suit. It's a tough and dangerous job but the view is terrific.

2. Can you tell me how fast and high you go as an astronaut?

The space station travels through space at 17,500 miles per hour at an altitude of about 220 miles. We orbit the Earth about once every 90 minutes. During the orbit of the Earth we are in daylight for about 45 minutes and darkness for about 45 minutes. That means the sun will rise and set 16 times a day.

3. What do you feel while launching as astronaut?

Shortly before the time of launch you start hearing different noises below you and you know things are getting ready to happen. Then, it is as if a giant beast is waking up. You hear and feel the thumping and bumping of valves opening and closing as engine systems are pressurized. When the first engines light there is a terrific low frequency rumbling and things start to shake. Then the main engine lights and the rumbling and shaking get even louder. Slowly, slowly you begin to move up and away from the launch pad. But, very quickly you build up speed and the g-load, or the force of gravity or acceleration on a body, increases. You shake and rattle along and then there is a bang when the rescue system is jettisoned, another bang when the four strap on boosters separate and another bang when the nose faring comes off. Now the windows are uncovered and you can see light coming in. At the second stage separation there is another bang and the g-load drops immediately. You go from about four and a half g's down to about one and a half or two g's. Then the third stage engine lights; you have a big push forward and the g-load builds again.

4. Where do you think you go in the Space Shuttle?

The Space Shuttle orbits the Earth at an altitude of 120-300 miles. We fly the shuttle to the ISS where we dock and continue work on board the station. In the past we have taken the shuttle to the space station and we have used it to visit the hubble space telescope for on-orbit repairs. Today, from our orbit above the earth, we are in a good position to study the stars, study the earth, perform experiments, build and resupply the ISS, and learn how to live and work in the absence of gravity.

5. Can you tell me how much time it takes to train before you fly in space?

Astronauts are in constant training for space flight. The initial training involves learning about basic space station systems, space walking and operating the robotic arm. You continue this training while awaiting a mission assignment. Once assigned to a flight, specific training for your mission may take as long as three years. The length of training depends on how complicated the tasks are on your mission.

6. Do you know what does space flight effect on your body?

A normal body will adapt to the abnormal environment of space in many ways. Immediately upon entering zero gravity, fluids in your legs and the lower part of your body move upwards towards your head. In fact, your face will feel and look swollen. Except for the occasional headache and congestion, astronauts are not bothered by this fluid shift. Some astronauts feel dizzy and have an upset stomach during the first few days of a space flight as they get used to zero gravity. This feeling usually goes away after three or four days. After a few days almost everyone is used to zero gravity and feels great. If you do not exercise, your bones and muscles will get weak.

7. Tell me what do you do while waiting for a mission?

When astronauts are not flying on a mission or training for a mission, they support other missions. There are many jobs on the ground required to support the design, preparation, training and flying of a space mission. Astronauts work in mission control (the 'voice' that communicates with astronauts in orbit), check out procedures and the checklists the crew in space will use, help verify the space station and vehicle software, develop procedures and tools to be used during spacewalks or robotic operations, help scientists in developing experiments that will be run in space and perform other jobs in support of ISS and vehicle flights.

8. Do you know what do you eat in space?

We bring along several different types of food when we fly in space. Since we don't have a freezer, refrigerator, stove or microwave, most of the food has already been cooked, then freeze dried and vacuum packed (meaning the water and air has been taken out of it), or it is thermally stabilized (meaning treated and sealed in a package to prevent spoiling), much like camping food. We do not want food that makes crumbs in space since crumbs would float all over the place and that could clog up equipment.

9. What do you do when you want to go to the bathroom in space?

The space is a little different than the earth. First of all, to keep from floating away, you must use foot-loops or straps while sitting on the seat. This holds you on to the seat, sort of like a seat belt. Secondly, the space bathroom uses suction not water to flush.

10. Tell me what do you do for fun in space?

The space station crews can ask mission control to send them shows that they can watch during dinner or off-duty time. They can also watch movies on their laptops. They may bring books, music, and musical instruments with them. Some astronauts enjoy hobbies, such as drawing, photography and HAM radio. During missions, astronauts are very busy. The few hours of free time may also be spent looking out the window at the beautiful Earth below, listening to music, surfing the web or corresponding with friends and family back home.

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11. Can you talk to your family and friends while in space?

Until a few years ago, we were not able to communicate easily with people on the ground outside of mission control. Now, we can send email to our friends and family directly and we can make phone calls using a hook-up through our computer. The phone connection is really clear. You would never know we were calling from space. Many astronauts carry pictures of their family with them on space missions.

12. Tell me are you afraid of flying into space?

A very experienced astronaut who has flown every space vehicle from Gemini to the shuttle once said that if you are not just a little afraid, you do not know what is happening. Astronauts are well aware of the risks involved in space travel.

13. Can you tell me what do you do if you get ill in space?

We carry first aid kits and some special medical equipment into space with us. We also are trained to take care of most minor and some major medical problems. There is not a doctor on most flights but all crew members are trained in basic first aid and CPR. We can talk to doctors on the ground if we need help. If someone gets very sick in space, we can make an emergency
trip back to earth.

14. Tell me Where is manned spaceflight going in future?

I see human spaceflight moving ever-outward from earth. The logical sequence is earth orbit, the Moon, asteroids, Mars. We have so much to learn/invent at each step and there is no rush. It needs to be both driven and paced by technology and drawn by science, discovery and then business.

15. Tell me if you believe in extraterrestrials or not?

Believing and believing in are two different things. Our best telescopes have shown us that there is basically an unlimited number of planets in the universe. To think that earth is the only one where life could have developed is just self-importance.

16. Please describe space?

Space is profound, endless, a textured black, a bottomless eternal bucket of untouchable velvet and non-twinkling stars.

17. How does micro-gravity affect you while you are sleeping?

You do not sleep that good. I mean, actually you do not want to sleep, it is too exciting to be here but the dreams themselves did not change in my case. Maybe the others have other experiences.

18. How would you define astronautics?

The science and technology of space travel and exploration is called astronautics.

19. Do you know how long are the missions?

The ISS missions, called expeditions, usually last about six months. There are three to six crew members on board at all times. A space shuttle crew is typically five to seven crew members. We have carried as few as two and as many as eight at one time, and space shuttle missions have been as short as two days and as long as 18 days.

20. What are the requirements to enter in astronautics?

All astronauts have some special skills, either as pilots or scientists. So they have all gone through college and gotten some experience in their particular field. I do not know of any age requirement but the experience that is needed would probably mean that the astronauts are at least 25, more likely over 30.

21. Do you know how near can an astronaut get to the sun in space?

It depends on how well the spaceship is designed to handle the heat and light. Even an astronaut in space around Earth could get burned if he or she did not have a good spacesuit on, one side would get fried by the sun and the other would freeze in the dark. by this we get to know why the astronauts have to wear such bulky spacesuits.

22. Can you tell me how does an astronaut breathe in the space shuttle?

In order to breathe on the shuttle, they take along a supply of oxygen. There are also filters that take carbon dioxide out of the air.

23. Tell me how does the pressure affect you in space?

Well, there is not any pressure because space is nearly a vacuum. That is one of the reasons that astronauts wear spacesuits.

24. What long-term effects human body faces due to weightlessness in space?

I understand that one problem is that the bones lose some calcium. Exercise helps but it does not stop this completely. This is a major area of study for manned spaceflight. It is a problem we will need to solve before we send people to Mars. It is a long trip.

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25. If the astronauts lose any of their tools in space then what happens?

Astronauts try not to lose anything, including tools because they float off into orbit. Later you might be going along in orbit and that tool could smash into the shuttle. Fortunately something like that would not stay in orbit forever. The shuttle is only a few hundred miles up. There is a very small amount of atmosphere up there, just enough to gradually slow space junk down so that it eventually falls into the atmosphere and burns up.