ISS Update: Interview with Expedition 34/35 Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn

Uploaded by ReelNASA on 06.12.2012

>> Dr. Tom Marshburn will be making his second flight
and his first long-duration stay aboard the station as well,
his first flight was as a crew member on STS-127,
which flew back in July of 2009 to the ISS,
and in fact we do have an opportunity to talk
to Dr. Marshburn, he is as I mentioned in Star City,
awaiting I guess departure for Baikonur on Thursday,
good morning Tom, are you there?
>> Hey, good morning Kyle, good to hear your voice.
Yep, I'm here.
>> Hey, that's great, it's great to talk to you about --
I appreciate you joining us here in the control center
for a few minutes to talk
about all the work that's been going on, your training
and basically what got you here to be ready to go.
It probably doesn't feel like --
feel like that it's actually here now, huh?
>> Oh, you're absolutely right, two and a half years
of training overall, and it's --
and for the last few months it's been a series of final exams
in the U.S. in the early fall, and then final exams here
in Russia for the soviets and the Russian segment studies.
We've been saying goodbye to our instructors as we go
from these training centers, so it's been a bit
of an emotional step down each time, so we're a bit used to it,
but now it's starting to dawn on us that we're going to launch
in about two weeks and we're getting very excited about it.
>> Yeah, I bet.
We're going to have an opportunity I think to talk
to Chris tomorrow, but you have a kind of a special background
because you're obviously a medical doctor,
and in fact you actually have worked
in probably both control centers, right?
You supported shuttle flights
when you were a flight surgeon here at NASA on this side,
and then you also supported one of our mirror crew members on --
from that control center over there correct?
>> That's right, a really unique experience,
a chance that few people get to get.
I was sitting surgeon consult for shuttle flights
and for station flights, but I was one
of the prime capsule communicators, which is a rare
for a non-astronaut, I was flight surgeon at the time,
from the mission control center in Moscow.
And that happened simply because we didn't have a lot
of NASA personnel at the time over here in Moscow.
So for most of the US astronauts that flew
to the mirror space station in the '90s, I got to talk to them
from the mission control center, very interesting
to see the way the two control teams worked together,
a lot of similarities, a lot of overlap,
but also a good number of differences.
It was a lot of fun.
>> Yeah, I bet.
And so then you, you know, you became an astronaut
so you've had that background working
with all the flight controllers and of course you flew,
as I mentioned leading into discussion, back on Endeavor
on the 2-JA mission, which on
that flight you did three space walks I believe, so you've got
that experience too, but what do you take from your flight then
and now looking forward to going back to the station,
only this time long-duration?
I mean, as a medical doctor that's got
to be I won't say a lifelong dream, but certainly something
that is very beneficial to your background.
>> Oh yeah, as a flight surgeon we would --
one of the jobs of the flight surgeon is to imagine what it's
like to be in space, you're treating astronauts and you --
the best flight surgeons are the ones that are able to sort
of predict, even though they're never able to get there,
predict what it's going to be like for the astronaut,
and predict what the challenges the physical --
the physiological challenges are going to be.
And we do that by interviewing astronauts when they come back,
it's part of their medical record,
part of their medical debrief.
So very exciting to get up there myself, and a number
of flight surgeons have been selected as astronauts,
Mike Barrett's another, and to get up there
and to actually be able to experience that ourselves,
it gives a huge amount of insight.
What it feels like when you hit zero gravity for the first time,
the rush of fluids to the head, what it feels
like to have just a sensory overload of floating in space
and having important things to do right away,
so what I'm looking forward to on this long duration flight,
which would be unique for me is to feel my body adapt.
I hear it takes a good month for the body to adapt
to zero gravity, so I'm going to be experiencing that,
and then over the flow of several months what it will feel
like to live in a confined area,
to have similar surroundings during that time,
so I'm just looking forward to seeing what happens,
I'll be keeping a journal
and making observations the whole way.
>> Has Roman given you --
or other crew members that are launched on a Soyuz
versus a space shuttle given you any differences to sort
of look forward to or do they kind of tell you that you want
to experience it on your own
and don't give you a whole lot of information?
>> I get a little bit of information, particularly
from the astronauts that did flow shuttle,
because very few Russians have flown shuttle and Soyuz,
but the astronauts that have gone before me that have flown
to the station have flown shuttle
and then Soyuz understand that the Soyuz launch,
while it's similar in duration to a shuttle launch for time
from the ground to getting on orbit.
Understand that the Soyuz launch is a little bit smoother.
Those solid rocket boosters
on the shuttle really give you a good shaking,
and you can feel the power of those things lifting the shuttle
and its external tank off the pad and up
out of the atmosphere.
So I suspect similar G-forces, but not quite
as much shaking around.
I'll tell you what I'm really looking forward
to is the living space inside the Soyuz, you may know
that it's very tiny for three people
in the landing little gumdrop shape craft,
and then there's a living area.
Both of them together are not much bigger than a closet,
particularly with equipment stuffed in there.
So I suspect it's going to be a little bit like the mercury
and Gemini astronauts, perhaps the Apollo astronauts
experienced on launch.
The same confined living.
We're only going to be that way for about two days,
but I'm very much looking forward to that,
and it'll be a huge piece of history
that I'm getting to experience there.
>> Yeah, no kidding.
Obviously your expedition scheduled probably
for about the same as the three guys that are
up there right now, about 147 days or so if all goes
as it's currently planned
and your shuttle flight obviously was ten days,
and that was to some people described it
as a hundred yard dash versus what you're going to do now
because it gives you an opportunity to spread out
and actually live in space, and you've got to be looking forward
to the contrast in those two based
on your first flight to this one.
>> Yeah, you know there is so much work going
on up there right now, particularly in the laboratories
with the -- we're going to have 130 scientific experiments going
on while I'm there.
People coming back over the last couple of years have said,
"You know, it's really more like a six-month sprint
and not a marathon anymore."
The -- although they're coming back very happy
and a little bit sad to leave, the work-rest schedule,
while the work is intense there's enough rest
to recharge batteries, and you're right,
I think there will be a few times, I think there was only
about a 45 minute period during my shuttle flight,
we were docked at station for about ten days but we were
up there for about 16.
But we were so busy the whole time that 45 minute period
where I got to look out the window
and just experience the joy of zero-gravity other
than the day to day work.
So I think there will be more time on my long-duration flight
to enjoy that and to get to be an expert too
at navigating through the modules.
We were very impressed when we arrived on the shuttle
with the long-duration colleagues that greeted us
as we came over the hatch.
They were very good at not running into things,
and very smoothly floating about the cabin
and in complete control all the time,
whereas we were still a bit of like baby deer on ice,
so looking forward to being an expert there.
>> Yeah, I bet.
And of course the station is a little bit bigger
that what it was when you were there, you --
your flight was in July of '09 and the other components
that were delivered were not massive modules,
but certainly have added to the size since you were there.
You -- I think you and Chris are scheduled for a couple
of space walks right now, during your expedition?
>> We are not scheduled for any right now, the --
we did train for some and as always happens
in space flight you've got to make a plan,
but the plan can change on you,
so those space flights have moved into the future
out of our expedition, however who knows?
You know we've trained to handle any contingency that comes
up on the outside of the space station, so we're prepared to go
out there, and we're going to act as if we are going
to do a spacewalk, that is in terms of staying fit
and keeping our upper bodies fit, keeping our minds sharp
for EVA, if we do indeed need to go out the hatch.
So we're looking forward to that and we'll just see what happens.
You know the Node 3 was added and the PMM were added
after I spent my time on the space station,
and the Node 3as you know has the cupola.
So I can't wait to get out there and get to look out the cupola.
>> Yea, I bet, the -- in terms of spacewalk training,
you made actually a good point there because I think
for shuttle flights you had a ton of time leading
up to a shuttle flight to train for the space walks
because you knew you were going to do those space walks,
because that was part of your mission,
and now if one gets called up while you're up there,
it's a whole different kind of training in terms of it's kind
of paper training or electronic training and voice training
with your EVA team on the ground.
But obviously you mentioned that you guys trained
for generic-type space walks, so if you do get asked
to do a spacewalk it would be a little bit different in terms
of that experience, but you've already had EVA training
and so it's got to help you, right?
>> Oh yeah, yeah that helps, it makes a huge difference.
There's certain things that you just cannot get
in your ground-based training, that you can only get
with the actual experience, the --
I would say the three main things are the view,
you can't recreate that on earth and that does affect you
in the sense that you have
to keep your mind off the view and on your work.
The temperature changes are quite intense in space.
You have to adjust your temperature on the dark side,
I got the chills when I was on the dark side of the earth
in the shadow of the station when we were
on the light side of the earth.
When I was holding onto a metal platform for quite a while,
you start to lose the feeling in your fingers
because you get chilled enough.
So learning how to take care of that,
taking care of that early on, and experiencing
that as extra overhead to your work, that's all part
of the experience of having done it, which I can apply
to my future space walk, and then just the overhead of being
out there, understanding the dangers associated
with spacewalk, the dangers associated
with making sure your safety tether doesn't get fouled up.
Being cognizant of where you really are in the vacuum
of space with just your thin space suit on,
all of those things add up to the actual experience.
So I think having been out there does make a big difference.
The astronaut core and the training teams are well aware
of this issue with the inability to train for an actual spacewalk
that may occur if something just suddenly breaks
on the space station.
So for that reason they've given us generic training,
I'm confident with using any tool that they ask us to use,
working with any component that's out there,
so we'll just have to see what happens.
>> So describe now as you mentioned
that you guys are getting ready to head to Baikonur
for your launch in a couple of weeks, what --
and you guys were just I guess certified,
maybe that's the wrong word, but again, approved I guess
as a crew to go, but kind of lay out your template from now
until launch day on the 19th?
>> Yeah, actually, that is the word they use, certified,
and they are very clear we are certified to go into quarantine.
We've got a few more medical checks before we are certified
for launch, and that won't happen
until the moment before we walk out to the pad.
And that's when our backup crew is off-duty,
they're no longer a back-up crew when they say goodbye to us
on the Launchpad, so that's the moment
in which we are absolutely certified to go.
So but we're going to leave, you're right, on the sixth,
this Thursday, there's going to be two weeks
when we are allowed a lot of administrative time just going
over our notes, reviewing our flight data file,
our instructions for flying the Soyuz, I'm going to use the time
to think about moment by moment what my actions are going to be.
It's like a lot of things I suppose,
if it starts off well it seems to go well over time.
So we'll spend some time going over all the minute details
of our first few days in orbit,
and very importantly just sending emails
to family and friends.
Family will be allowed to visit us,
so we'll have some very poignant and important moments
with my wife and daughter, and the rest of my family,
while I'm in quarantine, so be doing that
and otherwise just staying physically fit
and getting ready to go.
>> Yeah, I was going to ask you about family,
because that's obviously a very important part
of you know the job that you do because it's a kind
of a team effort when you make decisions and stuff,
and how do you all talk about you know,
and obviously being an astronaut is ingrained
in an entire family,
but obviously you don't make decisions alone.
So how did you all talk about, "Hey I'm going to be assigned,"
or, "I want to go do this long-duration flight,
so I'll be gone for a few months"?
>> Yeah well we, my wife and I, talked about it
after my shuttle flight, you know, we started to discuss what
if I were assigned for a long-duration flight
and how would that impact us?
And we talked about it and the difficulties of being away
and felt like, you know, quite frankly,
others have done it before us, members of the military go away
for that long or longer, so we felt like it was --
it's important, it's important for our country.
It's an honor to do it, so we agreed that if I were asked
that I would go ahead and enter the training.
As it so happened after that discussion,
about two weeks later, I got an email from the Chief
of Astronaut Corps and the email said,
better get studying on your Russian!
It was a one-line email and that was it, and I thought,
"All right, well it looks like an assignment might be coming
up here pretty soon," and I was right.
Early, just a couple more weeks and I got an assignment.
>> Obviously the one big announcement that's occurred
in the last couple of weeks while you guys are
in your final days of training there
in Star City is this the one year increment
that has just come up and I don't know
if you have any thoughts on that,
obviously being a medical doctor that --
it's an important step I would think to transition
from at least on the U.S. side from the long days
that we've had, which is maybe on the order of 200
to something more than a year,
as you look toward possible human travel beyond
low-earth orbit.
>> Oh yeah, you know it's important
to understand the limits of what humans can do.
Now, we're also talking
at a cellular level we think we know the rate of atrophy
of muscle, bone, nerve, cardiovascular system,
but we've only had very few people be up in space
for that long a time, more data is better in that regard.
But I think very importantly we need
to understand what we don't even know yet,
what we don't know is a problem.
You may have heard about the eyesight problems
that are coming up potentially due
to increased intracranial pressure around --
in the fluid around the brain that goes up.
We never would have known
that that was an issue unless we continued to fly people
on long-duration flight, and now we know it's a pretty big deal,
and we need to figure out what's going on there, it's important
for exploration, and so who knows what we're going to find
out on this one-year mission?
Hopefully we'll find out that humans are just as robust
as we think they are, and it'll certainly be interesting
from a scientific standpoint.
>> Well the, you know on a lighter note, obviously you're
up there obviously performing all these experiments
and studying the human body for long duration stays
and all that, but there's also downtime, and I know in your bio
that it does mention that you like playing the guitar
and we all know that Chis Hatfield obviously does,
so are you guys planning on any concerts up there?
>> Yeah, you know, we play different styles of music,
I'm a -- I'm not a singer, I'm a classical guitarist
and Chris is a great performer and singer and guitarist,
so our different styles may very well come together up there,
I would like to contribute to some musical pieces.
You know, we'll see.
If he's got the time, I'm sure I would enjoy it.
I think there is one guitar only up there, so I'll have to lay
down tracks or figure out something
because we can't both play at the same time
or maybe I'll figure out drums or something.
But I've got a number of things I'm going to be working on;
I'm going to be keeping a journal.
I think Chris will be the music man up there,
but if I can help out then I'd love to.
>> Well, that's great.
It's obviously one thing about life in space, it's the same
as on the ground in that you do have to balance your life,
and we're really looking forward to you guys getting up there
and joining Kevin, Oleg and Evgeny
and really appreciate you taking time to talk to us here
in mission control for a few minutes
and we're looking forward to your launch on the 19th.
Thanks a lot for joining us, Tom.
>> I enjoyed, it, thanks very much.
Appreciate it.
>> Take care.
>> Buh-bye.