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Our visit from the Commander of the Space Shuttle Atlantis flight STS-112/9A (9th Assemlby mission of the International Space Station) is over.

Wow, now more than in my childhood, I want to be an astronaut!

What a truly neat guy Captn Jeff Ashby is, and what an incredible job he & his peers do.

The Space Shuttle has been compared to mans greatest accomplishments, the pyramids, the Panama Canal, the worlds tallest buildings. But the International Space Station, being assembled now hovering 250 miles above the earth for 30 years by its mission completion, built by 16 countries, whose workers speak 11 different languages, whose parts have never been assembled on earth and have to fit with micron precision in the vacuum of space ...the International Space Station is truly mans greatest achievement in process. It's inhabited sections are the size of a 747.

It puts into perspective what a travesty mans feeble petty bickering on earth, tyrants such as Saddam & Bin Laden. What great things we can accomplish with cooperation instead of battles. Footage and pictures Jeff shared displayed what struck him from space; that on earth, you cannot see national boarders, the earth is beautiful and homogenous, man creates borders to our own fault.

Jeff had so much enthusiasm as he described the potential for the unimaginable advances in medicine and science for the betterment of mankind in the next 20 years that will be a direct result of this Space Station...appropriately called "Destiny".

A snippet or two of the things he shared with us:

The space walkers take 4 hours to get into their suits, they spend 7 hours working, when they undress, their hands and gloves are bloody from their knuckles and fingers being abraded during their work. In space it goes from day to night 5 times during a 7 hour walk with temperature swings from 200 deg. below zero to 200 above.

The current residents, two Russians and an American have been on board 4 months. They were brought pecan pie, salsa, mail and their most prized delivery, human faces. It truly is lonely out there in space.

Astronauts have to work out every day for they start to loose bone density and muscle mass their first day in weightlessness.

The arm delivered last year to the Space Station actually walks itself around the station and attaches itself by its end, releasing the other end to become the working part like some sort of mechanical inch worm.

Have Windows problems on your PC? Last years flight of the Atlantis was the first Shuttle flight to be totally digital. until then some mission critical processes were still done with tape drive computers. But the Space Shuttles have exceeded every goal by magnitudes. Things such as payload and reuse. Only has cost exceeded goals. The fleet is expected to fly until 2030 each flying over 100 missions by then.

The Shuttle is manually docked to Destiny, not by computer control. Jeff shared that tracing his crew back to their teenage years, this $5billion dollar machine was docked by a dishwasher, a neighborhood ice cream boy and a snail farmer from the south of France.

We truly can do anything you set out to do in life.
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