During his visit to Rabat, Mr. Daniel Tani, an American astronaut, gave an interview to Lte Magazine (Khaouja) about his experiences and his travels in space.
Hello Mr. Daniel Tani. Thank you very much for agreeing to participate in this interview and welcome to Morocco.
1-How did you experience the first moments of your very first takeoff in 2001, I think aboard the space shuttle Endeavour?
Yes, this was aboard Endeavour. My first thoughts at lift-off were “I can’t believe this is really happening!” But since i was the flight engineer – I had responsibility to check the engines and systems, so that kept my mind focused.
2-As an astronaut, how many space trips have you made and what was the total time you spent in space?
I took 3 trips to space: the first on STS-108 on Endaevour in 2001. My second trip consisted of launching on STS-120 on Discovery, living on the International Space Station (ISS) and then coming home on STS-122 on Atlantis. My total time in space is 132 days.
3- Can you describe a typical day in space, particularly at the International Space Station?
On the ISS, we work 10-12 hour days. We wake up at about 6am (GMT) and get ready for the day. At 8am, we have a conference with Mission Control to discuss the day’s plan. We are assigned tasks throughout the day – with some time for lunch. Exercise is schedule for us every day – 2 hours each day. At about 6pm we have an end-of-day conference with Mission control. We can then finish up any work that we have not completed, and then have dinner. Bedtime is about 10pm.
4-Was it easy for you to adapt to weightlessness in space?
Weightlessness is great – but it does take some getting used to. Usually, the first day or 2 are uncomfortable as your body is getting used to having everything float (including the organs in your body!). After about 2 days, your body usually feels completely normal. But then you need to figure out how to control your body and equipment as you move around the large space station. That can take a few more days. Once you figure it all out – weightlessness is fantastic.
5-What were the most interesting scientific experiments you carried out aboard the International Space Station?
One experiment we did was missing 2 fluids of different densities (think of oil and vinegar salad dressing). On Earth, after you mix them, gravity will pull the heavier (vinegar) towards the ground and they will separate. In space without gravitational forces, they will not separate. However, this experiment looked at what happens after a long period of time (weeks). It turns out that the same-density particles attract each other and clump together – but the forces are so small that we could never observe them with the presence of a high bigger force – gravity.
6-What does space look like from the International Space Station?
Looking out into space from the ISS is very similar to looking at space on a dark cold night from the Earth. Since we are no closer to the stars or planets (the ISS is only 400 km above the Earth’s surface), the stars and planets do not look any bigger. Since we are not looking through atmosphere, we can see dimmer stars and so many more stars are visible, but it is not a much different view than from Earth.
7-What are the telecommunications means used by space shuttles during the different trips, and specifically what are the frequencies used? For Apollo 11, the late Niels Armstrong told me when we met on the 24th of November, 1997 in Rabat, Morocco, that the S-Band is used between the moon and the earth (Houston), while the VHF is used between the earth (Cap Canaveral and Houston) and the atmosphere (870 miles). Did the space shuttle use only the VHF band?
The Space Shuttles used VHF, UHF, S-band and Ku-band. VHF was used as the primary voice communication to the ground. UHF was the backup radio to the ground. UHF is also used between space-waking astronauts and the shuttle (or ISS) S-band was used by Mission control to send commands to the Shuttle and to receive data (telemetry) from the Shuttle. Ku was used to send high-rate data to the ground – usually video or computer files. The ISS only uses S-band and Ku-band.