January 30, 1997
Let me tell you about my house.
Spectacular View. Unobstructed, overlooking the oceans, the lakes, the rivers; the mountains, plains, and valleys; the city lights, the stars, the other planets.
Six modules. One toilet. Dining area with two private sleep stations. Three vessel garage: Soyuz, Shuttle, and supply/garbage truck. Each module a 13 meter tube.
Lots of extras. Two modules are new additions. State of the art freezers, computers, gas analyzers. Built-in treadmills and bicycles for the recreational enthusiast. Utilities: completely solar-powered. Water from tanks, urine and condensate. Oxygen included. Radio, ham radio, and telemetry.
Maybe someday you'll have a house like this, John. It's the frontier now, but perhaps the norm by the time you grow up.
I often try to picture you up here. At first, a bit timid. Looking at me for some reassurance. Then a little smile. Then a big laugh. Skip the crawling and stumbling stage of life and just start flying! For sure, you'd enjoy playing hide and seek up here--it's a maze with all kinds of nooks and crannies and places behind panels. And you could hide on the floor, the walls, or the ceiling. And if you can hide like some of the cables "hide" around here, we may never find you!
You might not think so, but in space you still feel like there is an up and down. Although physically you feel just fine standing on your head or doing somersaults, you still prefer feet toward the floor, head toward the ceiling when working. Flying out of the intersection (the node), more often than not you end up in the next module not right-side up; but you instinctively twist and turn until you see the lights above you and then come in for a landing. To enhance this feeling of earthly-normalcy, in each module the ceilings are white, the walls pale blue, and the floors an ugly orange-brown and similarly ugly green. I'm right now floating right-side up, computer attached to an all-Velcro table, typing. And if I don't think about it, I can lose myself and forget I'm in space completely.
Heard you are heading back to Russia on Sunday. Try to be good on that long airplane ride. Crying once or twice is okay, since even we adults feel like crying after sitting still for 11 hours on a plane.
I'll be looking for the contrail of your jet as you head across the ocean (usually, easily seen from space...). And I'll be watching over you.
Love you, Johnchek, Hooliganchek.