Interview: Nikolai Budarin
International Space Station Expedition Six Crew Interviews with
Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin.
you are set to begin a four-month-or-so long mission on ISS; can
you explain what is the goal of this particular expedition to the
International Space Station?
Well, as you
know, the station has been in orbit for two years. There have been
five expeditions to the station; right now we're in assembly phase,
and the goal of our expedition is to continue assembly of the station
on orbit, both external and internal. At the same time, we will
be performing various scientific experiments, medical experiments,
perform EVAs -- spacewalks -- to install additional equipment external
to the station; we'll be receiving cargo vehicles; we'll be meeting
and seeing off visiting crews. So in short, that is the goal.
is your third spaceflight. How has having the experience of having
flown before helped you as you prepared to fly this mission?
right; this is my third flight. I have flown two times previously
to the Mir space station: first in 1995, on STS-71, and second in
'98, on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. This long training, long space
flight training -- I've been doing this for 12 years, training for
flights to space-combined with the previous flight experience --
how, what to do on the station, what not to do on the station, how
to rest, how to work; all that will certainly help me in my third
flight. And not the least is the experience of working as part of
international crews: Now I will be working with Ken Bowersox and
Donald Pettit; in the past I've flown with … as part of other international
crews. I think in that sense, it is very important to understand
who are your teammates and act accordingly.
me why it is that you wanted to become a cosmonaut in the first
This is an
interesting question; we always get asked this question, why do
you, why did you become a cosmonaut. Well, I was 8 years old when
Yuri Gagarin made his first flight into space. It was a turning
point in not only my life but in the lives of all other boys and
girls, and that was when the dream was born for me. And I graduated
from high school, enrolled into Moscow Aviation Institute. Upon
graduation, I worked at the Rocket and Space Corporation Energia,
and this work during which I had to participate in testing of spacecraft,
both on the ground and in air provided an additional motivation.
I thought, why not try? And in '86, I was selected for the cosmonaut
were eight years old when Yuri Gagarin became the first person ever
to fly in space; can you tell us what you remember of that day,
and what that was like in your town?
Oh, of course,
that was a long time ago, 41 years ago, to be exact. But I remember
it was sunny, nice weather outside … we were trying to see the spot
in the skies, but we, boys and girls, were still out there peering
into the sky … he has of course long landed since, but we were still
looking. We, of course, we were filled with a sense of pride for
our country because our fellow countryman, Yuri Gagarin was the
first man into space. But of course, it is the achievement for the
mankind as a whole. And now we're continuing in his footsteps.
have mentioned that you've been involved in, throughout your career,
in the joint Russian-American efforts in space … both of your previous
missions had Americans involved. From your point of view, would
you say that the partner nations in the International Space Station
have succeeded in trying to achieve the goal of learning how to
The previous experience of our joint flights has demonstrated that
we are capable of working together, and that we will be working
together, and the International Space Station is a very good example
of that. I think we are successful in building and operating the
station, and I think we will continue to be successful in that.
of any flight crew have to have a range of different talents to
complete all of the tasks that are involved in their mission. Tell
me what are your primary responsibilities as Flight Engineer 1 of
to make a clear distinction between duties of a flight engineer
and a commander. Our crew will be maintaining the station, performing
assembly work; we'll have to keep the station in the good condition
for the next crew. As for myself, I will be dealing with the Russian
segment systems, I will be performing Russian scientific and medical
will you, you will also be the pilot for the Soyuz?
Yes, I will
be the pilot for the Soyuz spacecraft. We will be having a Soyuz
spacecraft permanently docked to the station for a potential need
to do emergency descent and landing. As far as piloting is concerned,
we are scheduled to receive one cargo vehicle: We will be docking
it in an automatic mode, and if there are any problems with automatic
docking, I will be the one responsible for performing manual docking
from the station.
your space flight begins when Jim Wetherbee and his space shuttle
crew deliver you and Ken and Don to the space station. During the
time that the two ships are docked together, there is time scheduled,
as you mentioned, for the Expedition Five crew to help orient you
and your crewmates inside the station. And you've done that on your
missions to the Mir space station; it's in, in English is called
a handover. Why is that period of discussion between the two crews
crew is experienced in the station operations, and it only makes
sense that the old crew will bring the new crew up to speed on the
systems, on communication, on equipment stowage. We call it handover,
and this process lasts more than one day. Basically, this will be
an ongoing work during our joint flight. And, the new crew will
try to learn as much as possible from the old crew to help prepare
for the flight on board the station.
when that is over, the shuttle will depart and bring Valery and
Peggy and Sergei back home, leaving you and Ken and Don to settle
in. Can you, is there such a thing as a "normal" day when
you live in space? What would your routine be like?
Well, a routine
day will be no different from your regular day on Earth. You get
up, you do your morning routine, you read your e-mail, you read
your flight notes, you get your equipment ready, you set up your
experiments; this is nominal routine work, and the only difference
is that we are floating in zero g, but otherwise it's just housekeeping,
cooking … your regular day. Although on the ground we have a house
in which we live, where we rest, where we meet our friends, and
we go to work elsewhere, to an office or somewhere else; but on
the station, the station is both our office, our home, everything.
mentioned that you will have science operations; I'd like to talk
for a couple of minutes about science and the science mission onboard
the International Space Station. In general, overall, can you say
how the experiments from all of the partner nations in this space
station during your time on board are going to be advancing, improving,
the mission, the science mission, of the ISS?
Well, as we
have said before, our crew will participate in scientific and medical
programs, there will be a lot of technology experiments, we will
get observing and monitoring Earth from space -- this is an important
discipline. We're trying to understand how the activity of the mankind
impacts on the Earth and on the environment on Earth, and the opportunities
provided by space monitoring allow us to better understand man-induced
processes on the Earth. As far as medical part is concerned, our
crew will be doing mostly work concerned with the, studying the
effects of microgravity on the human body. The thrust of this research
is, of course, the future Mars flight. This is going to be a very
long flight, the Mars flight, and we will need to study all aspects,
all factors that will affect the human body during that long extended
also mentioned a few minutes ago how a big part of your job would
be seeing to matters in the Russian segment of the station, and
I take it that that includes the Russian science as well. Could
you describe one or two of the Russian experiments that you will
be spending time with during your time on board ISS?
Russian segment will have its own share of science and medical experiments.
We will be performing Earth monitoring and observation for Russian
scientific program. One of the experiments is called Diatomeya.
It involves observation of ocean surface in order to determine …
regions that are best suitable for fishing; fertile regions of the
ocean. Currently, these particular regions of the ocean are well-studied
and their location is known, but in nature, everything changes,
everything morphs, and these regions are changing as well. So we'll
be determining the new characteristics of the regions. Also, we
will be monitoring the glaciers. Everybody's talking about global
warming, so we will be watching out for glacier dynamics. Medical,
well, the goals and objectives are similar across all programs.
The equipment may be different, but we will be working towards the
same end pretty much.
and this may change after, by the time you launch, but at this point
there is one spacewalk that is being anticipated for this crew during
your increment. Can you tell me what are the current plans for this
EVA, and whether you will be one of the crewmembers to go outside?
about EVA, I very much hope that we'll have this EVA. There will
be two crewmembers going outside, stepping outside the station;
one will stay behind, supporting their activity in the outer space.
When, the, Jim Wetherbee's crew will have installed the P1 segment
on the S0 truss; we will pick up with installing equipment on this
truss segment. We will install a UHF antenna, we will install a
radiator, we will have to deploy it. It is, it will be stowed and
latched. In order to deploy this radiator we will need to open the
latches, open the locks … there are eighteen of them, so there will
be a lot of tedious work. I'm doing these locks. We will also have
to install some struts with lights on the CETA cart, which stands
for crew EVA … and we will also be transferring tools from one truss
segment to another; we will be using robotic arm. I'm hoping that
I will get a chance to participate in this EV, spacewalk. I have
eight spacewalks under my belt from the Mir experience, and I'm
hoping to get EVA experience on the International Space Station.
Maybe there will be other objectives, but for now, this is the program
of our EVA. But, we are ready to do whatever comes our way.
you consider all that is planned to occur during your time onboard,
if you were to imagine yourself at the end of your expedition, what
do you think will have had to have occurred for you to consider
Expedition Six was a success?
This is an
interesting question. Well, first, I think we would like to see
all goals of the expedition completed; that we are ready to leave
the station for the next crew in the good order, in the good condition.
Second, I would like to see, I'd like to have had the scientific
and medical program completed fully. And, that will be the measure
of the success of our increment. And we will be able to say that
we have contributed to the assembly, to the construction of the
all are scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station very
shortly after the second-year anniversary of the start of the station's
continuous habitation. Nikolai, I wonder, in your opinion, after
two years of operations onboard, what do you think is the best thing
that has come out of the International Space Station during these
first two years of human operation on orbit?
is a significant time, and the fact that the station continues operating
means that we are able to work together, that we have learned to
work together, and that we will continue to work together. This
is the most important thing that comes out of these two years.