IJMC Urban Legend...or...E-mail From Space?

               IJMC - Urban Legend...or...E-mail From Space?

It's a Low Down Dirty Shame I didn't get this a few months ago when I was 
looking for things to send out about Mir. But hey, better late than never 
as my mom always says. Granted, the way I feel right now, I'm thinking I 
might have preferred never returning home, instead of as late as I have. 
But then, after a soak in the hot tub, I think I'll be glad it was only 
late...if I'm still thinking, that is. Good night.                  -dave

 From a friend of a friend...
 Mindy works at UTexas Houston where I used to work- Matthew

 Mindy and I have somewhat of a claim to fame.  Dave Wolf, the American
 Astronaut currently on the Russian Mir space station, was a guest at our
 wedding.  A very close friend of Mindy's works with the shuttle program
 at NASA.  Mindy's friend brought Dave Wolf as a date to our wedding.

 Following is an email sent from the Mir space station to Mindy's
 friend.  I found it interesting so I thought I would forward it along.
 >Subject:       A few good words from Mir...
 >From Oct 31--
After finally learning where to find critical items like the self
closing trash container liners, I think it is safe to say that I am
settling in up here. One of the things I am learning is that you don't
have to be a rocket scientist (even though that is what we are) to make
a real difference on MIR. Between operating a full time lab module and
pitching in on the daily ship's chores, I hardly have time to write my
letters home. Don't take that as a complaint. There's no place on earth
I would rather be.
Because the crews before us were so busy fighting alligators it's now
up to us to return this remarkable ship into top shape.  Unfortunately
for me, that means things like organizing and cleaning - tasks my mother
can attest to that I didn't always excel at back on earth. But she sure
would be proud of me now. I spent most of today in the bathroom,
organizing and cleaning it, not using it.  Yesterday, I spent the
morning capturing the water which accumulates as big wiggling, floating
blobs on the heat exchangers of our condensate recovery system.
My pet project is keeping the numerous ventilation filters clear - no
small order. I also have been put in charge of the local lost and
found.  Because I helped stow the gear from the progress supply ship,
Pavel and Anatoly think I actually remember where I put everything. But
even if that were true, unlike on earth, up here things don't
necessarily stay where you put them. If you don't nail it down (up here
we use velco) there is literally no telling where something is -
anything-will float.
I am trying to fix our CD player but I'll be lucky to even get it back
together again.  I also helped Pavel out with the up and down data link
through which much of our communications with the mission controllers
occurs.  But, mainly, my time is spent in the laboratory module,
Priroda, which means "nature" in English.  It's a capable lab.  I really
enjoy the work and interacting with the researchers and operations teams
on earth.  It keeps me so busy I can't imagine having yet another module
(would have been Spektor) full of experiments.  I feel we have already
made some important observations.  A great colleague of mine said that a
lab is a place with enough junk in it to do anything.  We're there.

This ship literally wreaks of both history and character.  It's a "fixer
upper" all right but one you would take a long trip with in a
heartbeat.  The central command post (cockpit) has keys that look like
worn ivory.  Leather shrouds serve where plastic would now be chosen.
The metal machining is recognizably Russian, and of the highest quality.
It's overall character brings forth the image of the "time machine" from
H.G. Well's classic.  Signatures and instruction placards written by the
hands of over a decade of  Cosmonauts who maintained and lived in this
true marvel of human achievement.  Adapted over the years to the
unforeseen requirements of 0 gravity life.  Tables with things on both
sides.  A bicycle with no seat.  A set of heavy tools held in place by
rubber bands.  It sports a network of bungies and cables suited ideally
to gravityless locomotion and stowage.  Spiderman would be envious.

I ate dinner with my eyes closed while listening to music recorded at a
Russian cafe on Tverskaya. Apparently it takes longer than 3 weeks to
get totally used to no gravity.  I still look up at the gas analyzer on
the ceiling and wonder, for a moment, how I'll get up there to read it
and find myself momentarily surprised to discover that I can just fly on
up. I continue to try and put things "down" foolishly thinking it might
stay put. Naturally, it quickly gets lost. I get my hands too full, and
then, am a bit slow to simply let go and then sort it out.  I also
forget to use the ceiling as a surface. The other morning Pavel was in
my path for several seconds before I remembered I could just float over
him to get where I was going. We show off to each other the intricacies
of body control, in the proper form, as dictated by current 0 gravity
style. These are competitions I invariably lose.  I am still trying to
figure out how not to become upside down when putting my pants on. 
Don't worry though. I have plenty of time to figure it out.

IJMC January 1998 Archives