This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program
The Space Shuttle Endeavour returned to Earth last month. It
carried the fourth crew to live and work on the International
Space Station. One member of the crew kept a written record
of what it is like to live in space. Today we tell what astronaut
Daniel Bursch wrote.
American astronaut Daniel Bursch returned to Earth June nineteenth
after a total of one-hundred ninety-six days in space. He and
the other American crewmember Carl Waltz now hold the American
record for the longest time spent in space on one flight.
Astronaut Bursch was chosen to live on the space station crew
because he had spent almost three-thousand flight hours in more
than thirty-five different aircraft. He had also flown three
times as a crewmember of the space shuttle. Before living on
the space station, he spent more than seven-hundred-forty hours
Daniel Bursch is an officer in the United States Navy. He was
born in the eastern state of Pennsylvania in nineteen-fifty-seven.
He is married and has four children.
Mister Bursch is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.
He has advanced education in engineering science. He was selected
by NASA in January nineteen-ninety and became an astronaut in
The space shuttle Endeavor was launched into space December
fifth, two-thousand one. It was carrying two American astronauts
and one Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.
Daniel Bursch began writing on his one-hundredth day in orbit,
March eighteenth. He wrote the diary in an effort to give others
a feel for what it is like to be a crewmember on the International
Mister Bursch said the trip to the International Space Station
was a little different experience for him. It was the first
time he had flown in the space shuttle as a passenger, not a
member of the crew. Bob Doughty reads from the diary of Daniel
The launch was the first time for me on the middeck, inside
the space shuttle. There are no windows there and you can not
see outside. It surprised me when the shuttle began to roll
as part of the launch. All space shuttles do this. But I was
used to being on the flight deck where we can see outside through
the forward and overhead windows. Up there you can see what
We soon were in orbit and linked with the International Space
Station. Everyone became very busy. Things did not slow down
until the shuttle left for the return flight to Earth. There
is a limited amount of time to do all of the planned tasks.
This caused a good deal of pressure as we worked hard to do
all that was required.
The commander of our crew, the fourth crew to live and work
on the International Space Station, is Russian Cosmonaut Yury
Onufrienko. When we arrived at the station, Yury already had
spent more than one-hundred-ninety-three days in space on the
Russian Mir space station.
Yury told us that it would be a strange feeling when the shuttle
returned to Earth and we three were the only ones left. It was
a little like a family party¡¦very busy¡¦and
it suddenly came to an end¡¦everyone left.
Our working days slowed a little, but we were still busy. We
worked outside the space station two times in January and we
had to move cargo into the space station from the Russian cargo
The Christmas and New Year holidays were a nice break from
our work. It was very hard for me to be away from my family.
We spent most of the holidays catching up on sleep, writing
electronic mail and watching movies. We also called friends
and family on a special telephone linked to the Internet communications
system. It was very special to be able to call my family. It
was a lot of fun to call someone and listen to their surprise
when we said we were calling from space.
Daniel Bursch wrote in detail of the tasks he performed each
day. He explained how they planned for future jobs such as the
arrival of the next space shuttle, or Russian cargo spacecraft.
And, he told about the food and how important it became.
Our days are controlled by ¡°Universal Time.¡±
We start at six o¡¯clock each morning and our day
ends at twenty-one-thirty hours.
Sometimes we have to change our workday because of a coming
event such as the shuttle or a Soyuz spacecraft linking with
our space station.
Each day we get several messages that we need to read that
are part of a daily work plan. We read these messages and print
them with the aid of small computers. We read our mail, wash,
eat breakfast, read the plan of our work day. We also have a
morning conference with our teams on the ground at Mission Control
in Houston, Texas, the Operations Control Center, in Huntsville,
Alabama and Russian Mission Control in Moscow. Each control
center prepares questions for us about our work or sends us
Our daily work includes safety inspections of all of our equipment,
taking pictures inside and outside. We work on science experiments,
and inspect and repair any equipment that needs work.
We also have about two and one-half-hours of physical exercise
every day. We usually have our last meal of the day about seventeen
We have a combination of Russian and American food. Yury told
us our tastes would change in space. And, he was right. Food
that I thought was hot or spicy¡¦is no longer spicy.
Also, some foods that I really liked on Earth no longer appeal
to me anymore. I still can¡¯t wait to try some pizza
when we return to Earth. We all like to see the space shuttle
arrive, or the Russian cargo ship because it means fresh fruit,
different food and mail and gifts from our family and friends.
Members of the space station crew can fly from one part of
their home to another because of the lack of gravity in space.
Astronaut Bursch liked to play a game. He would throw an object
across the room and then try to fly in exactly the way it did,
like two aircraft flying together. However, he said he had to
be careful because if you hit something, it hurt! Here he explains
how difficult living on the space station can be for extended
periods of time.
One important part of space flight is the mental challenges
that take place when you live with two other persons in what
is really a large can. Living with someone is very different
than just working with them. And living and working together
with only two other people for several months can be difficult.
If you have a bad day, you can¡¯t just go for a
walk. I have come to accept that all of us will have good days
and bad days. You have to quickly learn that you can not let
small problems bother you. You can¡¯t think about
small problems, you have to let them go. And soon you will realize
how unimportant they are and will probably laugh that they even
bothered you in the first place.
I learned that it is important to let the others know when
something bothers you. Like any other relationship, if you let
things go all the time they will collect inside and always come
out at the wrong time. So, relations in space are a balancing
act the same as on Earth.
Astronaut Bursch likes photography. He explained that he especially
enjoyed taking pictures of Earth from the space station. One
morning he saw the highest mountain on Earth¡¦something
he would never forget.
I happened to be up early. I looked at our world map and saw
that we would be passing near Mount Everest soon. I looked at
our computer and saw our flight path would be over this famous
mountain. I looked out the window and there was Mount Everest.
It almost seemed to jump out at me. It was just after dawn there
and the sun was low in the Earth sky. This made the mountains
look very beautiful. I began taking photographs. It was just
one of those sights that will be forever burned into my brain.
You can see Daniel Bursch¡¯s beautiful photograph
of Mount Everest if you have a computer that can link with the
Internet communications system.
The Web site address is www.voanews.com. Then look for Special
English and the picture.
This Special English program was written by Paul Thompson and
directed by Cynthia Kirk. The diary of Daniel Bursch was read
by Bob Doughty. This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another
EXPLORATIONS program on the Voice of America.
This V-O-A Explorations Report is published
courtesy of VOAnews.com