Skip to main content

Expedition 13 Journals: Chapter Two

Space Station Astronauts Settle in for Six-Month Mission
NASA Science officer and Expedition 13 flight engineer Jeffrey Williams poses for a photograph while floating in microgravity inside the International Space Station (ISS). (Image credit: NASA/JSC.)

The following is part two of NASA astronaut JeffreyWilliam's two-part journal of his first month in Earth orbit aboard theInternational Space Station (ISS).

Getting Settled In...

We have been on boardthe ISS now for our first month with 5 to go. Handover week with the Expedition12 crew was busy but very productive and we got Bill, Valeryand Marcos safelyhome on 8 April. Since then, getting settledin and organized along with the scheduled tasks every day have kept us prettybusy. There is no problem with being bored on station. That is for sure.

There is little routine about the daily "routine" on ISS. Every day isdifferent with different challenges. The planners have estimated that it takesalmost 3 people just to run and maintain the station. I now believe it.

Our normal activities can be put in several main categories, not a whole lotdifferent than living on the ground in your home.

For example, we eat 3meals a day and have the opportunity for snacks or a "coffee break" now andthen. We live on a 24-hour day schedule using Greenwich Mean Time and haveabout 8 hours scheduled for sleep every night.

Wakeup is normally at0600 with sleep starting at 2200 or so. We exercise every day just to sustainmuscle mass and bone density for the return to earth in September or October.Periodic cleaning and maintenance, of course, is required just like any "home"or work place. Repairs of broken or malfunctioning equipment is also a commonactivity. Conducting all of our routine activities requires a lot of supplies,equipment, tools and other consumables, all of which have to be stowed,organized, and findable when needed. That takes me to other activities not socommon in your home.

Because of the tremendous amount of "stuff" we have on board, it is impossibleto remember where everything is. It is also necessary for the flightcontrollers and planners on the ground to know where everything is stored. Forthat reason, every significant item has a "bar code" and we use bar codereaders integrated with a huge database to stow and later find things.

The database ismaintained in the Mission Controls (both in Houston and Moscow) and theplanners use the database to prepare the procedures for our daily work. Thenecessary use of bar codes also means that there is a lot of overhead inworking even routine things such as deploying new food, clothing, or hygieneitems or moving things around for one reason or another.

Of course the overheadis vital to being able to keep track of what is on station, know where it is,understand the resupply requirements and build themanifests for the Russian Progresssupply vessels and the spaceshuttle flights. We have a great team of folks on the ground who keep up onall of that and do a great job of meeting the logistics requirements for thelong haul.

Another activity that we really enjoy is earth photography or what we formallycall "earth observation."

You can never tire oflooking at the part of God's creation we call Earth. Traveling around the globe every90 minutes provides lots ofopportunity to view the geography, oceans, cloud formations, sunrises andsunsets, thunderstorms, city lights and many other things in vivid detail.In both the Russian segment and the U.S. segment of the station we have acomputer map program running to show us where we are and to provide predictionsfor future passes over specific sites on the earth. Most of the photography isdigital and is sent to Houston every day.

Recreation includes listening to music, reading news from home, writing e-mail,and reading, among other things. We also have a selection of movies on boardalthough I do not expect to have--or to spend--much time at that...too many otherthings to do.

  • Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 13
  • Complete Space Shuttle Mission Coverage
  • The Great Space Quiz: Space Shuttle Countdown
  • All About the International Space Station

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: