I think after orbiting for a while and looking at the surface, I think the natural tendency is to want to experience it, to go down there and touch it. I started thinking about the Apollo astronauts who orbited the moon and didn't land - that must have been agonizing!
Gravity on Earth provides a force that keeps our bones and muscles working. In the microgravity of space, our bones and muscles are not taxed, so they begin to atrophy.
I wanted to be a veterinarian and go to school in Boston. It didn't quite work out that way, and I ended up joining the Navy as a suggestion of my big brother. It was really awesome - and I didn't realize it at the time, -but provided a lot of leadership and followership teamwork opportunities.
You don't look at the big problem all together, because I think it's a little intimidating. So you just take it one day at a time, meet the people who are going to meet with you, for you, and who you're going to work for, and really try to do the best job that you can. That's all teamwork, and that's what space travel is about.
It's only now that I see the bigger picture: Our ways to attain spirituality may be different - through diverse religious, customs and traditions - but they're modeled on similar principles and ideologies. That's what ties us all together.
Sweat doesn't fall off you. The water just accumulates until it gets too big and agitated and falls off like a sphere of water. It then floats around until it hits something. It takes a lot of water to fall off. Usually it just hangs on, so you get a quick build-up of sweat when working out.
I will say one of my favorite Russian side dishes is beet salad. It is dehydrated beets chopped very finely with nuts. It is a great side dish. I would like to try to make this when I get home. The nuts make it!
On the second flight, we were doing a lot of science experiments, and we've got a really cool window called the cupola. It's a big, circular window with six panes around, sort of at angles so you can see the Earth, you can see the edge of the Earth, you can go out - look out into the universe. It's pretty spectacular.
Ventilation is needed to ensure we get air disbursed throughout the Station. Air stagnates without flow, so it is essential to have good ventilation so one doesn't end up in a bubble of CO2 by accident and then not be able to breathe.
A bonus container is food, especially for each individual - supposed to be one every month, but in fine Pandya fashion, I have been 'saving' them. They are food that we requested or indicated that we particularly liked.
The food containers come in different varieties: for example, drinks, breakfast type food, meats, vegetables. There are about 5-10 days of that type of food in each container. We try not to open a new container until we finish the one we are on - even if that means going without coffee for a couple of days.
As the spinal cord increases, it makes you taller. However, after landing on the Earth, you shrink a bit. What was worrisome was that some of the wrinkles, which had disappeared there, came back.
I think windows are really important for the psychological health of crew members on long duration missions. It is nice to look outside, even if it is dark.
My space expedition has changed my perspective towards people. Looking down at the Earth, we could not see borders or people with different nationalities. It was then that realisation dawned on us that all of us are a group of human beings and citizens of the universe.
During our journey, we did weight lifting, squats, and dead lifts to regenerate the bone density. Luckily, my muscle mass and bone density did not alter. Our workout was so rigorous.
I flew helicopters, and I loved flying helicopters on the East Coast when I did a couple of deployments out to the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.
My siblings and I grew up on Indian food. My mother, though of Slovenian descent, learned to cook Indian delicacies for my father after their wedding.
It is a common fact that we see light flashes in a dark environment while living up here, and this experiment is essentially trying to detect how we humans detect these flashes - not sure if these are visual, if they are some type of radiation maybe sensed by some other part of the brain.
Funny how words in one language get used in another language. For example, 'scotch' in Russian is tape and 'pampers' means diapers.
When you are thinking about going away for a long duration mission, it has to be part of your mindset that you're leaving your family, but it's for the right reasons, for good reasons, and hopefully helping humanity.