Imagine seeing this call detail on your phone bill: International Space Station! I thank my lucky stars that I was the recipient of the call!
Seriously, I was very blessed and thrilled to receive a call FROM SPACE from Mission Specialist Dr. Michael Barratt while he and the other five members of the final Shuttle Discovery mission were docked at the International Space Station. I sooooooooooo wanted to blog about it immediately, but I was asked to wait for confirmation from NASA and Mike himself that it was OK to chatter about it on my blog.
It is, and I am!
So, what does an astronaut say to you when he calls you from Space?
Well, Mike told me that at that moment, they were somewhere over Africa. “We’re really having a blast up here,” he said. “We do have this phone and it’s a hoot to call people. So, I’m calling to say hello from the International Space Station. It’s cool to float up here.”
A little trivia on the Shuttle Discovery. It’s flown more missions than any other shuttle, has made more than 5,600 trips around the Earth, and has carried satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and sent the Ulysses robotic probe on its way to the Sun. It was the first shuttle to rendezvous with the Russian Mir Space Station, and it delivered the Japanese Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station.
On its final mission, the Discovery carried a crew of six to and from the space station as well as what used to be the Leonardo Multipurpose Module on a one-way trip. It’s now called the Permanent Multipurpose Module, and rather than returning, it will stay attached to the station’s Unity node to provide extra storage for the space station.
In addition to a host of new science experiments and hardware, Robonaut 2, the first dexterous humanoid robot in space, was also aboard. Although its first priority, according to NASA, will be to test its operation in microgravity, upgrades could eventually allow it to fulfill its ultimate purpose of becoming an astronaut helper on boring or dangerous tasks.
After that amazing phone call from Space, I then had the privilege of watching the Shuttle Discovery land for its final time during my visit to the Kennedy Space Center, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. I was ecstatic when I saw it touch down safely.
Thank you, Mike, for giving me the thrill of a lifetime! And thank you to NASA’s own Genie Bopp and the Bopp family for making this happen. Genie just happens to be “Aunt Genie” to my bff Jennifer Bopp.
By the way, Genie and Jennifer, Mike said to tell you hi!
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson