The crew breathed a bit easier, unwound a bit, and took a much-needed rest after successfully docking and establishing communications with Houston. Taking in the sights out of the windows left the crew feeling exhilarated but also humbled. It was a feeling of being insignificant but on top of the world at the same time.
Victoria Eddleston was the Commander of Expedition 64 and the oldest female astronaut on the ISS with her 62 years, only slightly noticeable because of her graying hair. It was her third mission, but the first time in charge of the crew. “Let’s check-in everyone,” Victoria requested of her team.
“Lakeland here. Secondary systems check will commence in an hour,” Kendra Lakeland, Pilot of the expedition, answered first. They’d worked together as a team for many years. Both equally excited to be heading up this mission.
“Stanton. Mission specs in review, tasks scheduled,” answered Jeff, Lead Mission Specialist. Expedition 64 was his second for NASA. He knew what to expect at the station but was quite pleased to see some of the upgrades since his last one.
“Mission Specialist Botel here,” said quietly. A little too softly for Victoria’s taste, a small red flag went up internally.
“Mission Specialist Cummings glad to be at the ISS,” Sue said with a smile. “I appreciate having you all on board supporting the exciting research we’ll be doing!” Victoria and Kendra eyeballed each other and by thought-waves transmitted – We’ve got an excited one! Smiling, they understood each other so well.
“Last but not least, Payload Specialist Fitzgerald at your service, Commander,” said Carol. “I’ve got all the research items organized and look forward to working this mission with you all.”
“Excellent, everyone. Let’s get to work,” Victoria signed off the station coms to address the tasks on her list.
The ISS, orbiting at the distance of 400 kilometres above the Earth, relied on two satellites for communication with Houston – one in White Sands, NM, and the other in Guam. Victoria began her transmission to Earth as the mental note she’d made herself reared up in her mind. She wondered whether she should mention it to ground control. Victoria decided against it for now.
“Houston, come in.”
“Welcome back, Commander Eddleston, secondary checks complete?”
“Yes, Houston, required check-ins complete. Research and assigned testing have begun. All crew members comprehend the necessary tasks.”
“Very good, Eddleston. Houston out.”
January 28, 2021 – International Space Station 1 PM, UTC
The Mission Specialists – Jennifer Botel, Sue Cummings, and Jeff Stanton, situated in the Destiny laboratory, busily carrying out the necessary experiments, occasionally glance out of the nearest window.
“I’ll never get over how wild this ride is. I mean, no one who hasn’t been up here, would understand what it’s like to travel 18,000 MPH. Even for me knowing to expect, it blows my mind,” Sue said excitedly. “It’s just so fascinating that we orbit the Earth every 90 minutes.”
“Yeah, it is wild that we have 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets in a day,” Jennifer responded dryly while concentrating on her task. Jeff and Sue were shocked that she said something as she was usually so quiet.
A loud ping sound that repeated a few times distracted them. They all looked at each other; Jeff spoke up first, “Did you hear that?”
TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…