Video: Astronauts talk about space station mission

  1. Closed captioning of: Astronauts talk about space station mission

    >> day.

    >>> president obama heads to florida 's space coast this week to talk about the future of american space travel but today we're launching you up to the international to hear from the "discovery" crew. this mission is one of the last as the program retires in september. right now there's a push to get the o' ryan spacecraft back into play. that's the shuttle's replacement canceled in the president's budget. as nasa looks ahead , the agency also marks 29 years of shuttle travel with a liftoff of " columbia ." i just spoke with the shuttle commander, a pilot and also a mission specialist . let me begin to today with jim because i know this is your first space flight and before you lifted off you said it's hard to wrap your head around this. do you want to explain?

    >> well, there's a couple things that are hard to get your mind around. one is having wanting to do something for 30 years of your life and have it right before you. for me that was amazing to realize that it would happen. i have a lot of friends who would love to be here right now and i wish were here with me and so i know that i'm very blessed to be here. i think also just wrapping your mind around what you're going to do and jumping on a rocket and launching into space is pretty exciting endeavor. all of that really was just hard to get a grip on but very exciting.

    >> speaking of getting a grip, the veteran astronauts say that it's funny to watch rookies come up and try to figure out their way around zero gravity but it looks like, jim , you have this down pat.

    >> i can tell you these guys are far from rookies. they hit space running and did a great job right after the cutoff when we got into orbit, these guys took off on their preflight plan and never stopped.

    >> dorothy, here you have been orchestrating the space walk out there and how has that been?

    >> yesterday was probably our most technical space walk and all of the robotic arm operations came perfectly together with what rick and clay were doing outside and i could watch most of it out the upper windows of the space shuttle so i spent my time on the flight deck doing that making sure they were safe. you probably heard we struggled with a bolt because the hardware changes in the extreme heat and cold up here but as you saw clay and rick were very professional and they got it down so we'll fix it up tomorrow.

    >> what do you think is the future for america 's space program now with the shuttle program ending and of course the president canceled the next program.

    >> it's time to look back and reflect about the great things the space shuttle has brought us over the last 25 years. i think we're going places . we're doing a lot of interesting stuff up here. it's great to be here as well. i'm hopeful for the future. i think the leadership and the folks who make policy decisions will do the right thing and we'll be able to get the job done.

    >> stephanie , this time in space and for the first time , there are four women in space. is this a giant leap for womenkind?

    >> i would say it's a giant leap for humankind. this is the third shuttle flight to have three women and as we join tracy on the international space station , we're thrilled would be working with stacy and thrilled to be working with each other and we also have the benefit of the mentorship of women in the astronaut office that have been there to lend us their experience.

    >> jim , we talked to your mom who said that you have wanted to be an astronaut since you were a child and in fact it was your school librarian that helped you with a letter and she was at the launch now. what message do you have for other children out there for may be watching this and dream of one day being where you are.

    >> i think for kids having any kind of dream is really a gift. it gives you a focus and helps you to get through the rough time when you're focused on a dream you can do things you wouldn't normally do because you see the end goal. i think that's what i would encourage them to do is find what they love and pursue it with all their heart. enjoy the journey along the way . it's not necessarily getting to the goal that brings the most satisfaction. i think it's really the journey.

    >> thank you all for your

updated 4/12/2010 4:14:51 PM ET 2010-04-12T20:14:51

The astronauts aboard the orbiting shuttle-station complex celebrated two big anniversaries Monday as they geared up for the third and final spacewalk of their mission.

And the world was treated to the first recital of traditional Japanese music and poetry in space.

Monday marked the 49th anniversary of the first human spaceflight — by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961 — and the 29th anniversary of the first shuttle launch.

"April 12th's a really special day for astronauts," said space shuttle Discovery's commander, Alan Poindexter.

In honor of Russia's Cosmonauts Day, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the residents of the International Space Station to wish them well. Three are Russian, two are American and one is Japanese.

"Space is something that unites all of us. It's a global issue," Medvedev told them.

Medvedev suggested that world leaders hold a summit to discuss space exploration, as they do other matters. On Thursday, President Barack Obama will visit Kennedy Space Center to elaborate on NASA's role once the shuttle era ends. Only three shuttle flights remain after this one.

"Space is our highest priority, regardless of how hard the economic situation was in the country and will be, I'm sure," Medvedev told the station crew.

In addition to the space station's six occupants, there are seven shuttle visitors — a Japanese woman and six Americans.

The two Japanese — the station's Soichi Noguchi and shuttle astronaut Naoko Yamazaki — took a call Monday from dignitaries and schoolchildren in Tokyo.

This is the first time two Japanese astronauts have flown together in space.

Yamazaki shared a haiku — or Japanese poem — she wrote after seeing Earth for the first time from space. Then, with Noguchi accompanying her on an electric keyboard, she performed a Japanese folk music springtime piece, "Sakura Sakura," which translates as "Cherry Blossom." Noguchi opened the piece with a few notes on a traditional wooden flute.

"This is probably the first time that you are going to hear the historic performance from space," Noguchi said.

The recital took place in Japan's big science lab, Kibo, or Hope.

It was a slower pace for the astronauts Monday. They got some time off one week into Discovery's flight.

Image: Members of the Expedition 23 crew talk with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev from the International Space Station
NASA TV  /  Reuters
Members of the Expedition 23 crew talk with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev from the International Space Station. The crew members are (left to right) front row, Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Kotov and Mikhail Komienko and in the back row, T.J. Creamer, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Soichi Noguchi.
One more spacewalk still needs to be conducted to finish installing a new ammonia tank, on Tuesday. The astronauts will place a big cargo carrier back aboard Discovery on Thursday, after it's stuffed with old equipment and trash. Then on Friday, one day before departing, the shuttle will be inspected for any signs of micrometeorite damage.

This survey of the shuttle wings and nose usually is conducted after undocking. But Discovery's main antenna is broken, and there would be no way to transmit all the laser 3-D images to Mission Control for analysis. NASA added a day to the shuttle's visit so the inspection could be carried out at the station and the data could be sent using station resources.

Shuttle inspections became mandatory in space following the 2003 Columbia disaster.

Columbia lifted off on the first shuttle flight on April 12, 1981.

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