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Barbara Morgan Talks With Students on Ham Radio

08.16.07

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Q: How did you body feel during the launch?

Morgan: During the launch, your body feels ... First of all, there’s just a lot of shaking going on. You don’t feel a lot at first, and then the g forces get more and more, and finally at the very end by the time you get to 3 gs, it gets pretty tough to breathe. So you feel like somebody's kind of standing on your chest.

Q: What is your main duty on the mission?

Morgan: The whole crew, what we're doing is helping to finish, to build the International Space Station. So we have several large pieces of equipment we've put on the station using the robotic arm and using our spacewalkers. And one of my jobs and the one I think I like the best is being the robotic arm operator. We also have about 150 bags worth of stuff, of equipment and everything that the ground ... that our station crew needs, and we've been transferring that back and forth. And that's what we've been really busy with lately.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

Morgan: Well ... it’s my free time right now, and guess what I get to do? I get to talk with all of you guys on the ground in McCall, Idaho, from the International Space Station using the ham radio. So this is one of the things we do with our free time, although we don't have very much free time. The other thing I've tried to do is get peeks out the window to take a look at Earth below and the sky above.

Q: Is it hard to eat in microgravity?

Morgan: It's not hard to eat in microgravity, it's pretty easy. In fact, it's pretty fun because you can even play with your food. For example you can ... my crewmate right here has a ... his food is floating in mid-air and he's reaching for it with his tongue. Also he's playing with a can and spinning it around. At first it was hard to get the food to actually go down when you swallowed it. It felt like it stayed up near your throat. That lasted for two or three days, but then that went away.

Q: Is there anything that looks like it's moving on Earth?

Morgan: Last night I was looking out the window and I was looking down at the Indian Ocean, and there were big lightning storms all over the Indian Ocean. And that's what I could see moving, was the lightning flashes. As far as everything else moving, since we are traveling faster than the Earth is spinning, it looks like the clouds are moving underneath us but it's really us moving over the clouds.

Q: How do you sleep in space?

Morgan: You actually sleep very soundly in space. We have kind of a ... we call it a sleep restraint ... it's kind of like a flimsy sleeping bag that we can zip ourselves into clip to the wall somewhere so that you float around and hit your head on the equipment. But you can really sleep just floating in mid-air, too. And I've found that once I shut my eyes I go to sleep right away, and I wake up when the alarm wakes us up about eight hours later.

Q: How do you exercise on the space station?

Morgan: On the space station, we have three different tools for exercising. There's an exercise bicycle, there's a treadmill so that you can run. You strap yourself into it or you strap yourself into the bike. And we also have what we call resistant exercise. It's a lot like lifting weights, only your pulling on cables that are attached to this cannisters that you pull against.

Q: What is the temperature outside the space station?

Morgan: 300 degrees hot, and when you're on the nighttime side, it's 300 degrees cold.

Q: What protects the space station from asteroids?

Morgan: We have a lot of protection on board both the shuttle and the station from asteroids, and there are special ... actually they're big metal plates, but they've got kind of a honeycomb structure inside of them, so that if any asteroids hit, the energy dissipates inside and they kind of break up into smaller pieces.

Q: If you had to choose one, would you be an astronaut or a teacher?

Morgan: Do I have to choose one or can I do both, please? Actually, both are excellent jobs and they're both very, very similar. Both you're exploring, your learning, you're discovering and you're sharing. And the only difference really to me is that as an astronaut you do that in space and as a teacher you get to do that with students. And they're both wonderful jobs. I highly recommend both.



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Last Updated: August 16, 2007
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