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Mark Shuttleworth - April 30, 2002: HAM Radio excitement - The Wow Factor

The wow factor at Bishops College was huge on Monday April 29. There was great excitement prior to the link up and the atmosphere was electrifying. Learners from six different schools enjoyed the 10 minute conversation with Mark immensely. The Provincial MEC, Andre Gaum, gave a welcome message and Bishops College had recorded a special message to Mark on video with the school song. The event was covered by SABC TV, ETV and a whole number of local and national radio stations. The selected learners asked the following questions:

Zmndile Tshamlambo from Langa High - 8th grade: How does zero gravity affect your body?

Zero-g makes bones weaker and muscles weaker over the long term, because you donít use them us much up here in space and in the short term, it makes you feel a little bit sick. Everything moves in a very strange way, so its bit like being on a boat, so you feel a bit sick after a while, but that passes very quickly.

Esihle Mbonama from Langa High - 8th grade: What is a typical day like on the ISS?

It is very busy up here on the Space Station. There is an enormous amount of equipment and work under way. There are only few people on the space station to do it, so we have to do everything from changing the plumbing to the toilet to the specific and specialized scientific experiments. We start work at about 6 oíclock in the morning and we usually work until 11h30/12h at night.

Mdingi Monde from Fezeka High School: Any positive hope that you are moving forward with your experiment or are there foreseen complications so far?

Itís proving more difficult than we anticipated. ExperimentÖ very impressive.. and challenging Ö (we are) moving forward, hope we will bring back some embryos

Ryan Brouwer from WPPS - 7th grade: How do you think your experience could help South Africa and its people?

Iím living my own dream here and if I do, I hope, getting people to live their dreams and to work towards their dreams is a very good thing. We need to think about our future, we need to dream about a better future and I hope that this projectís the realization of a dream - even if itís by some other people.

Thomas Taylor from WPPS - 7th grade: At present, how do you prevent muscle wastage in the space station?

Thomas, we are on a very short duration flight, even if it is microgravity we donít anticipate any significant damage, even if we donít exercise. I had a very specific exercise programme before the flight, provided by the Sports Science Institute. They hoped that it would become part of astronaut training at NASA and at Star City because it does some critical things to the muscles that should minimize muscle damage. The long term guys, they work out every day. They are on the treadmill and lifting weights and working against resistance everyday, so that they can keep up their muscle capacity.

Duncan Macwilliam from WPPS - 7th grade: How do they keep a continuous supply of oxygen to the space station?

Thatís a great question Duncan. Because oxygen is just about the most important thing we need up here and itís in very short supply. We actually break down water into its component parts, hydrogen and oxygen. We discard the hydrogen overboard into space and keep the oxygen, which we then use to keep the cosmonauts alive. The interesting thing is that the water we use for that is all recycled from water vapour, that we breathe in the space station, so we try to recycle as much as possible to minimize the amount of materials that need to be brought up from earth to the space station.

Graeme Steen from Bishops College - 9th grade: What meaning does this trip have for you?

Graeme, this trip has been a year-long project and a lifeĖlong dream. Iíve been living in Russia for nearly 8 months. Thatís an extra ordinary experience and itís really broadened my horizons and learning to fly a Soyuz aircraft has been extraordinary. Itís the first time Iíve taken on such a technical or aviation type of a job and then the physical and mental, almost spiritual challenge of preparing for living here in space has all been really fascinating so I think itís an experience that has fulfilled and exceeded my expectations and reams and I donít know what else life has in store for me but Iím fortunate Iíve had this opportunity.

Daniel Sharples from Bishops College - 9th grade: What was it like going from Earthís atmosphere into space?

Daniel, it was a wild, wild ride. We launched on the Soyuz from Kazakhstan, which is like the Karoo without the koppies. And 8 minutes later we were in lowĖaltitude (?) orbit somewhere over Siberia and everything moves very, very fast. The launch at first is very smooth but as the pace picks up - the acceleration picks up Ė we had strong g-force and then we had this wild transition as the various stages dropped off the rocket and we are thrown into weightlessness for a couple of seconds before the next stage ignited and kicked us into high g-force again. The first few minutes of weightlessness are incredible. The force of the pull of the earth through the windows is one thing I will treasure as long as Iím alive.

Bethell Sean from Bishops College - 8th grade: How do you think this journey is going to affect your social, religious and family life?:

Well, Iíve been living far from friends and family in Russia for many months and that was a very interesting experience Ė it certainly toughened me up a little bit and broadened my horizons. Coming up here has made me realize how important the people that we are closest to are, so I guess Iíll be making an extra special effort to stay in touch and stay on good terms with the people who matter in life.

Dylan Solomon from St. Josephs - 8th grade: Cosmic rays are deadly! In space you are out of the earths protection against cosmic rays. How are you protected?

We donít yet know exactly how radiation affects astronauts in the long term, there are high levels of radiation here but we are slightly protected by the earthís magnetic field. If there is a major solar flare and a sudden burst of radiation then we will be told to find a part of the station which minimizes the amount of radiation Ė that has the thickest wall. In general, though, weíve only got 2mm of aluminium for the walls of the station and thatís not very good in terms of radiation shield.

Kyle Williams from St. Josephs - 9th grade: What advice can you give us to pursue our dreams successfully as you have done? What was it that ďPushedĒ you?

Kyle, I think the biggest thing is a willingness to do what you believe in even when other people think itís maybe not such a smart idea. There were many times when people, even people close to me said that the things that I wanted to do were almost crazy ideas but through perseverance and faith I was very, very fortunate to make some of those dreams come true. And I see so many other people who wish to do the things but are concerned about what people will say if they make that their lifeís goa.. I would justÖ(faded: end of contact)

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10/06/2002: Ticker-tape parade today
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04/05/2002: Mark talks to learners in Khayalitsha
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Church of Jesus Christ

Zero-G Heart Rate Data

Next-generation Soyuz TMA Cockpit

Mig-25 Afterburners