Sharing on Space Station a Must, Astronaut Says
The Expedition 18 and 19 crew members, along with spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi, participate in an in-flight media interview on April 1, 2009.
Credit: NASA TV

There may be questions on Earth over which food and bathrooms the multi-national crew of the International Space Station can use, but the rule in orbit is share and share alike, an astronaut said Wednesday.

NASA astronaut Michael Barratt said that each of the space station?s American, Russian and Japanese crewmembers has their own private sleeping quarters, but everything else is open to all.

?Other than that, the rest of this big space station is pretty much communal,? Barratt, who launched to the station last week, told reporters Wednesday via a video link from the orbiting laboratory.

Barratt?s comments come after recent reports from Russia that morale aboard the space station is lowered by terrestrial bickering over which food, space toilets and other facilities U.S., Russian and other international astronauts can and can?t use.

In an interview with Russian language newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the space station?s newest cosmonaut commander Gennady Padalka reportedly lamented restrictions that prevented Russian cosmonauts from eating food or using gear made by the U.S. or the 14 other partner nations involved in the $100 billion space station project.

"What is going on has an adverse effect on our work," Padalka told Novaya Gazeta, according an Associated Press story published Monday.

Padalka reportedly attributed the problem to a 2003 decision by Russia?s Federal Space Agency to charge other agencies for the use of its resources on the station. He arrived at the space station on Saturday with Barratt and space tourist Charles Simonyi, and will command the outpost?s crew for the next six months.

"Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide," Padalka told the newspaper, according to the AP wire story. "We are grown-up, well-educated and good-mannered people and can use our own brains to create normal relationship. It's politicians and bureaucrats who can't reach agreement, not us, cosmonauts and astronauts."

Padalka reportedly used back-and-forth decisions over whether he could use a new American exercise machine to illustrate his point in the Novaya Gazeta, but did not comment during Wednesday?s video link on how resources are used aboard the station.

Barratt stressed that aboard the orbiting laboratory, everyone pitches in each of the space station?s different modules.

The station is made up of a series of connected modules built by the U.S., Russia, Europe and Japan. It is currently home to two Russian cosmonauts, two American astronauts, a Japanese astronaut and an American space tourist.

?I would say that with the exception of your small, personal space, it?s pretty much a group effort,? Barratt said.

Padalka and Barratt joined Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who was already aboard the station, when they arrived last week to begin the outpost?s Expedition 19 mission. Wakata arrived at the station earlier this month aboard NASA?s shuttle Discovery to join the outpost?s Expedition 18 crew — NASA astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov.

Fincke and Lonchakov are due to return to Earth with space tourist Simonyi next week. Simonyi, the world?s first repeat space tourist, is paying about $35 million for his second trip to the station under an agreement between Russia?s space agency and the Virginia-based firm Space Adventures. He last visited the station in April 2007.

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