Small Wonders And Joys

Despite their hectic work schedule, the crew - and particularly the four rookie spacefarers on board Columbia - were nevertheless able to take time out to fully

From a roll of undeveloped film miraculously recovered from among the wreckage of Columbia, the crew 'flies' through the Spacehab module for their in-flight portrait. Top row (left to right) are Dave Brown, Willie McCool and Mike Anderson and bottom row are Kalpana Chawla, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.

From a roll of undeveloped film miraculously recovered from among the wreckage of Columbia, the crew 'flies' through the Spacehab module for their in-flight portrait. Top row (left to right) are Dave Brown, Willie McCool and Mike Anderson and bottom row are Kalpana Chawla, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.

appreciate their unique surroundings. For Laurel Clark, the noises came as a surprise. ''Obviously, everything floats,'' she told an interviewer from orbit. ''The zippers and all the belts that have D-rings that we hold things down with are always floating and hitting each other and jingling. It makes this beautiful tinkling music in the background all the time. It just caught me off-guard. It was beautiful.''

Willie McCool, who spent most of his shifts up on the flight deck orchestrating manoeuvres in support of the FREESTAR experiments, found the sunrises and sunsets, coupled with sweeping panoramic views of the Himalayas and Australia, as some of the most awe-inspiring views of the mission. Yet both he and Ilan Ramon stressed the apparent delicacy of our world when seen from orbit. ''The atmosphere is so thin and fragile and I think everybody, all of us . . . have to keep it clean and good,'' said Ramon. ''It saves our life and gives our life.''

Kalpana Chawla had flown before, but when she floated onto the flight deck on 29 January she beheld an unusual sight. As orbital sunset overtook her view, she saw her own reflection in Columbia's overhead windows, as well as the sunlit and darkened faces of Earth. ''In the retina of my eye, the whole Earth and the sky could be seen reflected,'' she said, ''so I called all the crew members, one by one, and they saw it and everybody said 'Oh, wow!'.'' Not surprisingly for a former gymnast, Dave Brown spent his spare time doing backflips in the Spacehab . . .

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