08 July 2006

Update on Jeff Williams

by Phil Johnson

It's been awhile since I posted any news about Jeff Williams. That's partly because he's been in the news all week (inluding a live interview on CNN today), and you will have seen him if you watched the docking of Space Shuttle Discovery with the International Space Station on Thursday. That night the Shuttle/ISS passed over my house, and I took the photo to the left, by resting the camera on my back fence. The Shuttle, docked to the Space Station, is the short white streak in the center of the photo. The other white dots are stars. This picture looks east-southeast.

Tonight the Shuttle and ISS went directly over Los Angeles again, and its trajectory took it right across the face of the (nearly) full moon. It was spectacular.

Darlene and I have watched the ISS fly over some 25 times (from diverse locations such as Sicily; Italy's Adriatic coast; Bradenton, FL; and Bakersfield), but tonight when we went out on our front lawn to watch, some 30 people in our neighborhood were also outside watching for it. Apparently the recent news coverage alerted a lot of people that tonight would be an especially good time to view.

It was. One of the local news channels filmed the scene as the Shuttle/ISS flew directly across the face of the moon. If that video gets posted on the Internet, I'll try to link to it.

If you want to get viewing times and exact locations for the ISS in your area, check the Heavens Above Website. It's very precise.

I keep in touch with Jeff by e-mail a couple of times a week. He gets the latest PyroManiacs entries uploaded each Monday. He has posted (without fanfare) a couple of entries to his own blog from orbit.

Jeff says he is having a great time and will be very busy for the next week or so, unloading supplies from the Shuttle and repacking it with stuff to be sent back. There's a spacewalk scheduled, too, for recon and maintenance on the Shuttle.

Jeff and Pavel Vinogradov have been alone in the Space Station for the past 100 days. With the addition of the Shuttle crew, there are now nine people in that tin can. When the Shuttle crew comes home, they will leave behind one member, Thomas Reiter (a German), raising the number of the ISS's permanent crew to three people for the first time in several years.

I don't like having house guests for more than 7 days. But at least you can go for a walk to when you want privacy and time to think. With nine people in the ISS and no place to walk, I'd probably have a hard time. But the video feed from NASA so far makes it look like they are all genuinely enjoying each other's company, and in an e-mail I got from Jeff today, he said was glad for the full house.

Keep praying for him, and of course, pray for the safe return of the Shuttle crew next week.

Phil's signature


Jonathan Moorhead said...

My good ole’ Dad is heavily involved in aerospace in Huntsville, AL. Years ago I remember standing outside our house with him watching the space station fly over. Sweet memories. For the latest live coverage of events online, check out NASATV here.

donsands said...

What a blessing to be able to read these posts.
Thank you for sharing. It must be incredibly difficult to do what Jeff is doing, but it must be incredibly rewarding as well. Though I could never do something like he is doing.
May the Lord keep him, and bring him back safe. All for the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Matt Gumm said...

I forgot that NASA TV was online. Thanks, JM, and thank you, Phil, for reminding us about Jeff.