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Sunita getting used to life amid stars

india Updated: Dec 30, 2006 13:47 IST
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Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams spent a busy week unpacking and getting used to life at her new home amid stars with the help of her two co-tenants at the International Space Station.

Williams, who came to the station aboard space shuttle Discovery on December 12, had an hour budgeted each day to familiarize herself with the station and adapt to life on board, said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

These unstructured hours are scheduled during new crew's first two weeks aboard to get them used to the station and its activities.

Williams' co-tenants commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin passed a milestone of their stay on the station on Tuesday — it was their 100th day in space.

The week began with Christmas, a day off for Williams, Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin except for required maintenance and exercise. The three were then back on their regular schedule on Tuesday, waking at 11.30 am IST (6.00 am GMT) and going to bed at 3.00 am IST (9.30 pm GMT).

Unpacking items inventorying and stowing more than two tonnes of equipment and supplies delivered by Discovery took up part of each day as they entered the new supplies and equipment in the Inventory Management System, a computerised, bar-coded tool to keep track of the voluminous material aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Scientific activities picked up again on the station since the return of Discovery to Earth.

The space station team worked on experiments analysing heart function during long-duration space flight, measuring cosmic rays and examining plant growth and changes in blood of long-duration spacefarers.

They also continued a Nutritional Status Assessment. Williams and her companions performed required station maintenance and did their daily 2.5 hours of exercise, designed to mitigate some of the negative effects of lengthy space flights.

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