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23 Oct, 2010 02:05

The returned ISS expedition goes through rehab

The three members of the 23rd and 24th missions to the ISS are back on Earth after circling the globe for more than half a year and are now going through a rehab programme at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.

The programme, to again get used to normal life with gravity, is held in Star City outside Moscow and takes as much time to complete as crew members actually spent in space.

NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson told RT that despite the widespread opinion that those who work in space for a prolonged period return to Earth as weak as small children, on the ISS there is sports and medical equipment to exercise with and keep those working in space in great shape. She even said that this “Helps us to return stronger than when we launched.”

There was a delay when the expedition was returning home because of an undocking failure of the return vehicle, the first to ever occur on the ISS, which nevertheless did not worry crew members.

“The hooks of the Space Station would not release our vehicle and we had to delay a few orbits before determining it just was not the right time to come home; we tried it again,” remembers Tracy Caldwell Dyson, “I do not believe at any time that our lives were ever threatened.”

“When you understand how the equipment operates you just do not get afraid, you understand the cause of the problem, its source,” cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko says, “There was no real danger to life. We just extended our flight for another 24 hours, of course it was not pleasant because it prolonged our descent for another two days, during which we did not rest at all.”

The permanent crew at the ISS has been increased from three to six members, but living 400 kilometers above Earth in space has not become in any way routine.

“You start to discover a new reality where everything floats and looking out of the window with a magnificent view is a part of everyday life,” Tracy Caldwell Dyson recalls.

“Our schedule every day was very busy and our weekends seemed to be so short, but yet still fulfilling. It is quite a privilege living in space,” she says.

“The six of us quickly started to work well together. We had a lot of work to do and we were too busy to look out of the window all the time, like some people imagine we do, though we did take photos of the Earth. But, all in all we worked well together and enjoyed it,” Mikhail Kornienko admits.