Rufus and Ruby's Exciting Venture into Space on STS-112
October 7-18, 2002
Rufus and Ruby here - just to let you know - we'll be writing in our journals instead of the people at NASA. Since they are busy at work, they've asked us to write down things we're thinking about and every once in a while, they'll ask us to write down what they want to say to everyone.
Oh, oh, oh - we are SO excited! We arrived at the Johnson Space Center (JSC as everyone here calls it) in Houston, Texas, in September so we could get all the paperwork done before we go to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. At KSC we're going to get ready for a ride on the Space Shuttle that's going up to the International Space Station. Wow - Houston is kinda HOT! But, there are so many things here to see and do, we don't think about it being too hot. Actually, everyone's been telling us that it's quite cool right now - hmmmm ... they think 85 degrees is cool.
We took a little time out and went over to Space Center Houston - that's where visitors to JSC go. We had a terrific time there, and we met a lot of kids at the Kids Space Place, had fun climbing all over the displays and trying to flying an MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit) to dock with the Shuttle (it's almost like the real thing). On our tour of JSC we got to see Mission Control Center, the Space Shuttle and Space Station mockups and trainers, and the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) - - the NBL is the biggest swimming pool in the world. Nope, we didn't go swimming - even though we bears are great swimmers, that pool is REALLY deep (40 feet) and wide (110 feet) and long (210 feet) - not like the rivers and lakeshore areas where we're used to swimming. And, hey, we ACTUALLY got to see where they keep track of what's going on during the Space Shuttle missions - Mission Control Center. Lots of men and women work there in all kinds of jobs. It's just too cool!
We found out that while we are on the Space Shuttle our "home" is going to be in the Mid-Deck. Lots of things happen on the Mid-Deck - some astronauts sit there during launch and landing (and of course, us too); that's where they keep their food and fix their meals; it's where the bathroom is; it's where some of the astronauts sleep; it's where the hatch (door to the outside) is; and it's where most of the supplies are stored. There are things in the floor, things in the walls and things in the ceiling but best of all, when we get into space and experience Microgravity we're going to get to find out all about no ceilings and no floors, but six walls - top, bottom, and all four sides around us. We can't WAIT to float! Ohhhh….I hope we don't get sick - somebody told me that sometimes happens in Microgravity. But, we're in a really cool place in the Mid-Deck where we'll stay safe and will also be out of the astronauts' way when they are working.
We got a little extra sleep time because the launch was delayed. There was this huge hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico - Hurricane Lili -- and while it didn't look like it would bother us on the launch pad, it could have blown into the Houston area and hurt the Mission Control Center while we were in space. Just to be safe, NASA delayed the launch. It's "safety first" around here!
Monday, October 7, 2002
It's Monday, October 7th, we're awake, and we're listening to all the things going on in the Shuttle Orbiter before we launch. This is just SO exciting!!!! People are checking out the Mid-Deck and Flight Deck one last time, and the astronauts are climbing inside to get strapped down and ready for launch.
Here we go!! WOW!!!!!! What a ride! We launched on Monday, October 7th, at 2:46 p.m. Central time. They said that there's a new camera on the Shuttle's external tank and there will be fantastic pictures - we can't wait to see them. Unbelievable - we were in orbit around the Earth in less than 9 minutes - that's really moving! We're onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Wednesday, October 9, 2002
On Wednesday morning we docked with the International Space Station (ISS) - what a cool place! We had to get to bed early (a little before 7:00 p.m. Central time) because the rendezvous operations (where the Shuttle meets up with the ISS) started early Wednesday morning just after 5:00 a.m.) Hey, Rufus - I overheard one of the astronauts say that they are the first visitors to the ISS since the Expedition Five crew arrived there 123 days ago. (Each crew that stays at the ISS is an Expedition crew - the crew there right now is the fifth crew to be onboard.) Know what else I overheard? Astronaut Peggy Whitson (one of the Expedition Five crewmembers) has been sending letters back to Earth describing her life onboard the ISS - and kids (of all ages) all over the world can look at them on the Internet at http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/. I bet that's probably done each time an Expedition crew is onboard the ISS.
"Say, Ruby, I just heard all the astronauts talking about opening the hatch between the Shuttle and the ISS - do you think we'll have to hold our breath and not be able to breathe?" "Oh, Rufus, you're so silly - we won't have to hold our breath - there's air to breathe in the Shuttle AND the ISS."
Friday, October 11, 2002
Guess what, two of the astronauts are going to do a spacewalk today - it's the first one one of three that they are going to do this mission. The one today is to put in the next segment of the ISS's backbone - the trusswork.
Saturday, October 12, 2002
It's just SO much fun to hear all the work going on inside the Shuttle and ISS. The astronauts inside are helping the astronauts doing the spacewalks outside the Shuttle. They're working with the Canadarm2 (the robotic arm on the Shuttle) to grab the trusswork and take it out of Atlantis' cargo bay and move it to the end of the trusswork so the astronauts outside can get everything put together. Hey, did you know that thing weighs 14 tons (28,000 lbs.) and is 45 feet long? But, even though it's heavy on the Earth it weighs hardly anything up here - except that it still has mass and you've got to be careful when you start moving things around up here. You have to go very slowly and take a lot of care with everything you do. Know how the astronauts are going to get from one end of the trusswork to the other? On the Crew and Equipment Translation Aid - a big name for a handcar on the truss rails. Soon the astronauts (with their equipment) will be able to move hand-over-hand across the 100-yard "railway" atop the ISS's truss. Cool, huh?
There's another spacewalk on Saturday and the last one is on Monday, Octrober 14th. When they get done there will have been more than 19 1/2 hours of spacewalks on this mission.
Sunday, October 13, 2002
"Psst - hey Rufus - are you awake? Guess what the astronauts are doing right now? They're fixing the treadmill that's onboard the Shuttle. I heard them say something about a broken cable on the gyroscope that is part of the vibration dampening system for the treadmill. Hmmmm ... I guess that means that a part broke that helped keep it from moving around so much."
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Well, it's now Tuesday and we have to leave the ISS tomorrow. Seeing the Earth from space is truly unbelieveable!!! It is so beautiful! From up here we can't see any country borders; the Earth looks like just one precious, fragile place in the big, big universe. "Wow - Ruby, did you see that? We're flying by Hawaii - the islands are SO green and the water around them are all different colors of blue." "Hey Rufus, let's check our journals to see where everyone lives and remember all the wonderful places we've been. Even though they can't hear us, maybe we can wave and say "hi" to each of them as we pass over where they live. We've traveled so very many places that we are going to be waving and saying "hi" for days! We better get started so we don't leave anyone out!"
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
We closed the hatches today and the Shuttle (where we are) undocked from the International Space Station (ISS). We backed off very, very slowly - because of how big we are and how big the ISS is, we have to do everything very slowly (remember what we said about "mass" in our journal above). So VERY much has happened during this Shuttle mission and we can't believe our time here is soon to be over.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
"Rufus, wake up! I just heard the astronauts talking about the weather for landing tomorrow. It looks as if the weather is going to be almost perfect. It's just SO amazing that the Shuttle launches like a rocket ship, flies around and around the Earth, and then lands back on Earth like a plane. How COOL is that??"
Friday, October 18, 2002
Today is the day we leave our space "home" and travel back to the Earth.
What a ride we've had! Launch was SO exciting and landing was just as exciting! In the time we were gone, we traveled 4.5 million miles (yep, that was MILLION miles). That's about 180 trips around the world-whew! We have to tell you - this was a fantastic trip for us. It's unbelievable just how complicated the Shuttle and ISS are - the Shuttle must be the most complicated machine ever built! We're impressed with how the astronauts and all the people on the ground work together. It truly takes everyone doing his or her part for a successful mission, this mission of which we were a part, was a successful mission!
Rufus and I want to thank all the people who made it possible for us to fly onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. This was an experience we will never forget.
Remember, your lifelong dreams can come true with planning, preparation, and hard work.
Rufus and Ruby, back from space, showing off their space suits
Rufus's Certificate of Flight, signed by Mission Commander Jeffrey S. Ashby
Ruby's Certificate of Flight, signed by Mission Commander Jeffrey S. Ashby
Space Shuttle Atlantis races toward space just after liftoff from Launch Pad 39B on mission STS-112. Liftoff occurred on time at 3:46 p.m. EDT.
From Space Shuttle Atlantis, you see parts of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. The Front Range of the Rockies is the dark range crossing the bottom of the view.
International Space Station (ISS) was photographed by a crewmember on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis following the undocking of the two spacecraft. Atlantis pulled away from the complex at 8:13 a.m. (CDT) on October 16, 2002.
This view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis was photographed by an Expedition Five crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS) during rendezvous and docking operations. Docking occurred at 10:17 a.m. (CDT) on October 9, 2002.
The Expedition Five and STS-112 crews assemble for a group photo in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS).
Space Shuttle Atlantis kicks up dust as it touches down at the Shuttle Landing Facility, completing the 4.5-million-mile journey to the International Space Station. Main gear touchdown occurred at 11:43:40 a.m. EDT; nose gear touchdown at 11:43:48 a.m.
Children with Diabetes expresses its deep appreciation to NASA for helping make Rufus and Ruby's trip into space possible, and for the Turner family of Cincinnati for the idea.
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