A Visit with Don Pettit and the ISS Simulator

This web page was originally posted in 2003

On Friday, November 14, 2003 I had the great pleasure of visiting the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, as the guest of astronaut Don Pettit. This visit followed the first of Don's three trips (so far)to the International Space Station and he showed me around the space station simulator. Back then the Space Shuttle had not yet been retired, so I was also able to go into the Space Shuttle trainer, a facility usually restricted to guests. The ISS was much smaller back then and did not yet have all of its present modules or large solar arrays, thus the images shown here reflect a small ISS.

On his first mission, Expedition 6, Don was the Science Officer aboard the International Space Station from December 2002 through May 2003. During his six months in orbit, Don took many photographs of of various phenomenon at night, such as the aurorae, lightning activity on Earth, the airglow in the upper atmosphere, and noctilucent clouds. He also did much astrophotography from the Space Station as a "hobby" activity. I was priviliged to be in email contact with Don while he was in orbit and helped him with various aspects of his celestial photography as well as relaying Iridium flare predictions to him that were being generated by Rob Matson. This last activity resulted in the first photograph of an Iridium flare taken from a manned spacecraft in orbit. Some of Don's astronomical images can be viewed at this NASA web site. Select "gallery", then "space station" then "Expedition 6" in the "ISS Crew Imagery" box to see Don's work in orbit.

Me in the pilot's seat of the Space Shuttle cockpit trainer at JSC. Don Pettit in the flight engineer's station on the Shuttle flight deck.
Don explaining the function of some of the switches on the Shuttle flight deck. Me sitting in the air lock module of the International Space Station trainer in Houston.
Me in the Destiny module in the International Space Station trainer. Don Pettit in the Destiny module of the Space Station trainer. The "window" at his feet represents the port hole through which he did most of his photography from space.
Don visits with two of the Russian trainers who taught him how to fly the Soyuz spacecraft. Me in the Russian Zarya module in the Space Station trainer

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