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← What it's like to live on the International Space Station

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Showing Revision 7 created 11/13/2019 by Brian Greene.

  1. I'm an astronaut.
  2. I flew on the space shuttle twice,
  3. and I lived on the International
    Space Station for almost six months.
  4. People often ask me the same question,
    which is, "What's it like in space?"
  5. as if it was a secret.
  6. Space belongs to all of us,
  7. and I'd like to help you understand why
    it's a place that is magic for all of us.
  8. The day after my 50th birthday,

  9. I climbed aboard a Russian capsule,
  10. in Russia,
  11. and launched into space.
  12. Launching is the most
    dangerous thing that we do,
  13. and it's also the most thrilling.
  14. Three, two, one ... liftoff!
  15. I felt every single bit of the controlled
    fury of those rocket engines
  16. as they blasted us off the Earth.
  17. We went faster and faster and faster,
  18. until, after eight and a half minutes,
    on purpose, those engines stop --
  19. kabunk! --
  20. and we are weightless.
  21. And the mission and the magic begin.
  22. Dmitry and Paolo and I
    are circling the Earth

  23. in our tiny spacecraft,
  24. approaching the space station carefully.
  25. It's an intricate dance
    at 17,500 miles an hour
  26. between our capsule,
    the size of a Smart Car,
  27. and the space station,
    the size of a football field.
  28. We arrive when those two craft dock
    with a gentle thunk.
  29. We open the hatches,
  30. have sloppy zero-G hugs with each other,
  31. and now we're six.
  32. We're a space family, an instant family.
  33. My favorite part about living up there

  34. was the flying.
  35. I loved it.
  36. It was like being Peter Pan.
  37. It's not about floating.
  38. Just the touch of a finger
  39. can actually push you across
    the entire space station,
  40. and then you sort of
    tuck in with your toes.
  41. One of my favorite things
    was drifting silently
  42. through the space station,
  43. which was humming along at night.
  44. I wondered sometimes
    if it knew I was there,
  45. just silent.
  46. But sharing the wonder
    of that with the crew
  47. was also part of what was important to me.
  48. A typical day in space
    starts with the perfect commute.

  49. I wake up, cruise down the lab
  50. and say hello to the best
    morning view ever.
  51. It's a really fast commute,
    only 30 seconds,
  52. and we never get tired
    of looking out that window.
  53. I think it reminds us that we're
    actually still very close to Earth.
  54. Our crew was the second ever
    to use the Canadian robotic arm

  55. to capture a supply ship
    the size of a school bus
  56. containing about a dozen
    different experiments
  57. and the only chocolate that we would see
    for the next four months.
  58. Now, chocolate aside,
    every single one of those experiments
  59. enables yet one more
    scientific question answered
  60. that we can't do down here on Earth.
  61. And so, it's like a different lens,
  62. allowing us to see the answers
    to questions like,
  63. "What about combustion?"
  64. "What about fluid dynamics?"
  65. Now, sleeping is delightful.

  66. My favorite -- I mean, you could be
    upside down, right side up --
  67. my favorite: curled up
    in a little ball and floating freely.
  68. Laundry? Nope.

  69. We load our dirty clothes
    into an empty supply ship
  70. and send it off into space.
  71. The bathroom.

  72. Everyone wants to know.
  73. It's hard to understand,
    so I made a little video,
  74. because I wanted kids to understand
  75. that the principle of vacuum saves the day
  76. and that just a gentle breeze
    helps everything go
  77. where it is supposed to.
  78. Well, in real life it does.
  79. (Laughter)

  80. Recycling? Of course.

  81. So we take our urine, we store it,
    we filter it and then we drink it.
  82. And it's actually delicious.
  83. (Laughter)

  84. Sitting around the table,

  85. eating food that looks bad
    but actually tastes pretty good.
  86. But it's the gathering around
    the table that's important,
  87. I think both in space and on Earth,
  88. because that's what cements
    a crew together.
  89. For me, music was a way to stay connected
    to the rest of the world.

  90. I played a duet between Earth and space
  91. with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
  92. on the 50th anniversary
    of human spaceflight.
  93. Connecting to family was so important.

  94. I talked with my family almost every day
    the whole time I was up there,
  95. and I would actually read books to my son
    as a way for us just to be together.
  96. So important.
  97. Now, when the space station
    would go over Massachusetts,
  98. my family would run outside,
  99. and they would watch the brightest star
    sailing across the sky.
  100. And when I looked down,
    I couldn't see my house,
  101. but it meant a lot to me to know
    that the people I loved the most
  102. were looking up while I was looking down.
  103. So the space station, for me, is the place
    where mission and magic come together.

  104. The mission, the work are vital steps
  105. in our quest to go further than our planet
  106. and imperative for understanding
    sustainability here on Earth.
  107. I loved being a part of that,
  108. and if I could have taken
    my family with me,
  109. I never would have come home.
  110. And so my view from the station showed me

  111. that we are all from the same place.
  112. We all have our roles to play.
  113. Because, the Earth is our ship.
  114. Space is our home.
  115. And we are the crew of Spaceship Earth.
  116. Thank you.

  117. (Applause)