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Reason can answer questions, but imagination has to ask them.
- Ralph Gerard -

Cosmonaut Q & A

MirCorp spoke with cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kalery to discuss their activities onboard Mir. We asked them your questions about the mission and their experiences living on the space station. The questions and their responses are below.

Review the first set of questions answered by the cosmonauts.

What does it smell like onboard Mir? Also, do the plants onboard the station help circulate the air and what is the air quality inside Mir like?

The air quality we have inside the station is high enough. Some days ago, we sampled air in different compartments for microbes and bacteria and the air tested clean.

There are some smells one can feel onboard the station. There is a smell of the specific technical human environment we live in on the station. Besides, one can smell food, sweat during our exercise sessions and so on. The air on the station is purified not by plants, but with the help of certain technical systems. These systems are quite effective to cope with temporary smells such as smell of food or sweat.

Can you please tell us about your exercise routines to stay healthy in space?

We have a treadmill on the station for walking and jogging, a cycle ergometer a special bike - and we use an expander for exercises involving strength. You should work hard to keep fit.

Do you have a mission emblem for this flight?

Yes, our mission does have the emblem.

What kind of sounds does Mir make? Do the sounds change when you are on the dark side of your orbital pass?

The sounds, which can be heard here, are mainly made by the equipment running on the station, especially by the fans that mix air and provide thermal convection. These sounds are invariable during the day.

During your daily routines, do you get a chance to see the sun rise and set around the Earth? If so, which daily event is more beautiful from Mir?

We certainly have time to admire the Earth's beauty, the Sun's rise and set. All the views are very beautiful, it is impossible to single out something as the best.

To people's knowledge, there cannot be sound in space. When spacewalking, do you hear anything when, say, a tool clanks against the side of the station?

No, the clanks of a tool against the station's hull are not heard in outer space. During spacewalks we only hear the spacesuit's fan working, the voices of other crewmembers and voices from Mission Control Center's experts.

Can you tell me how many Orlan spacesuits are still onboard the station and what their serial numbers are? Also, are they all Orlan-M or are the Orlan-DMA no.25 and 26 still onboard?

At present there are 5 Orlan spacesuits of different modifications on the Mir station.

Have one of you guys ever been afraid when staying in space? Also, are you dreaming the same dreams when you sleep in space?

We realize that space flights are very dangerous. But a man can not live constantly with the thoughts about danger in his mind and at the same time he should not forget about this danger. You are to be on the alert for any surprises.

Our dreams remain quite usual. We dream about what we experienced long ago on the Earth and about what has happened recently.

Would you want to live on Mir permanently if it became technically possible to do so?

And what about you? Would you like to leave your family for ever and settle in the Antarctic, for example?

When will the electrical tether system be attached to Mir to help keep it in orbit?

We hope that this system for keeping the station in orbit will be tested within a year. As to the nominal use of such a system onboard the space station, we do not think it will happen soon.


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