Davidson Wildcat in Space: A Rainy Monday Means Nothing at 17,500 Miles Per Hour

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This just in from Tom Marshburn ’82, orbiting Earth far above a rainy Monday, on the International Space Station:

Hello John!  How are you doing?  I’ve been tracking our orbital path daily, looking for a flyover of the Piedmont area, but recently it’s been rare, at least while the crew is awake.  The inclination of our orbit and rotation of the Earth under us dictate that we pass over the same spot on Earth at the same time of day only every 60 days – we call these two-month intervals our ‘seasons.’ I did get a glimpse of the East Coast as we tracked down the Midwest a couple of nights ago, and it looked like you were having a clear night.

Work is going well and the time is rushing by.  I can’t believe we’re already over 1/3 of the way through the mission.  We’re completely adapted to the Station environment now, and have been very busy.  The work week seems to only have a Monday and a Friday, with a couple of hours in-between.  And week before last we set a record for number of hours of research support.  It’s incredible how the control centers around the world can weave such a complex schedule and keep so many experiments running simo.

Chances to catch more than just a glimpse out the window are rare, and the sights of Earth get more astounding as our eyes become better trained at picking out details.  We’ve begun to view the Earth, I think, as an interstellar visitor might, with hues, atmospheric conditions, coastlines, and geologic formations taking the place of borders or place names.  The red mottled desert of Australia, granite of Eastern Canada, deep misty green of India, and of course the Eastern US Piedmont, are all immediately recognizable.

The six of us are happy and healthy, and the Station is running well.  This week we undocked one of our cargo ships, emptied of it’s supplies, so it can de-orbit and incinerate on re-entry, leaving room for another ship launching next week to bring more supplies and experiments.  So we’ll have enough to keep ourselves, our ship, and the laboratories running and productive for some time.

Please say hello to everyone at Davidson for me, and all the best from space!

Tom

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