After a 125-day stay aboard the International Space Station, ISS Commander Sunita (Suni) Williams touched down in Kazakhstan on Monday, along with Flight Engineers Aki Hoshide and Yuri Malanchenko. Part of what is known as Expedition 33, the three boarded their Soyuz TMA-05M on Sunday to return to Earth, but before they left, Williams downlinked an extensive tour above of the ISS orbital laboratory. Williams has given several interviews from her ISS post, so you may have already seen her floating weightless in front of the camera, a nimbus of dark hair around her face.
Here we see a number of interesting features of the station. She begins with the Japanese laboratory, then moves to the European module, “Columbus,” where many of the medical experiments take place. Interestingly, every surface is a suitable workstation; since there’s no reference for floor, walls, or ceiling, and no need for anything to stand on, one can maneuver into any position without losing a sense of direction. As Williams demonstrates the “sleep stations,” phone booth-size compartments with sleeping bags, she shows how the astronauts can also sleep in any position at all without feeling like they’re “upside-down” or disoriented in any way. There’s also a lengthy tour of the “facilities” (in case you’ve ever wondered how that works) and the “cupola,” a small transparent room like a WWII gunnery station where the astronauts can gaze out at their home planet.
So, yes, I will admit, I’ve always liked to imagine the interior of the ISS like the smooth, padded corridors of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, but the reality is still seriously cool. The Washington Post has a slideshow of Expedition 33’s touchdown near the town of Arkalyk in northern Kazakhstan, and the video below shows the small ceremony that greeted the crew hours after their arrival back on Earth.
via Universe Today
Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.
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