And Oh Yeah... There Was That One Phone Call...
NASA reports the crews of space shuttle Discovery and the
International Space Station took a "break" Thursday, in and around
transfer work ahead of Wednesday's farewell and undocking of the
shuttle. The 10 spacefarers also talked with President Barack Obama
joined by school children at the White House.
Crew members gathered in the station's Harmony module Tuesday
morning, and spoke to the President, members of Congress and
students. The president was joined in the White House's Roosevelt
Room by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill Nelson, along with
Representatives Gabrielle Giffords, Bart Gordon, Parker Griffith,
Suzanne Kosmas and Alan Mollohan.
The schoolchildren were from the Boys and Girls Club of
Washington, DC, Southeast Elementary Academy of Washington, the
Louise Archer Elementary School and Thoreau Middle School in
Virginia, and the Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace
Engineering in Maryland.
Students asked the spacefarers a variety of questions, including
whether they had time to play video games in orbit (ah, not so
much.) But it was the President who asked the question everyone
really wanted to know.
"You guys still drink Tang up there?" Obama asked. He was
quickly informed by Senator Nelson -- who flew on a shuttle mission
in early 1986 -- that the iconic drink has been off the NASA menu
for some time, according to The Associated Press.
After the phone call, the crew turned its attention to transfer
checklists as the time nears to say goodbye leaving the station
larger and more powerful than it was before Discovery arrived. The
formal farewell and hatch closing is scheduled just before noon
Wednesday followed by leak checks ahead of departure.
Discovery is scheduled to undock from the station at 2:53 pm EDT
Wednesday after the crew bids farewell to its temporary home and
the Expedition 18 crew, leaving behind Japanese astronaut Koichi
Wakata and bringing home Sandy Magnus -- whose
zero-g-unfriendly long hair (above) was also the subject
of good-natured ribbing from Obama -- after four months aboard the
The shuttle is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center on