28 March 2006

Expedition 13

by Phil Johnson

Back in August, I wrote a post about my friend Col. Jeffrey Williams, the astronaut. I mentioned that Jeff was slated to be launched in a Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan for a six-month stint in the International Space Station.

Well, the launch of Expedition 13 is slated for Wednesday evening (29 March; 8:30pm Houston time). Jeff will be on board, traveling to the Space Station with Russian Commander Pavel Vinogradov, and Brazilian Astronaut Marcos Pontes (Brazil's first astronaut).

Pontes will return in a few days in the Soyuz capsule with the crew of Expedition 12, who have occupied the Space Station for the past six months. Williams and Vinogradov will remain in orbit in the Space Station until next autumn. They will be joined by a third crew member from NASA at some point during their stay.

The Space Station has been continuously occupied by humans since November 2000. That's really amazing, when you think about it.

Here's a fascinating NASA interview with Jeff that will help you get to know him better.

Jeff is a reader of PyroManiacs, and he may well become the first American ever to read this blog from space.

He also has one of the original PyroManiac decals. I dared him to stick it on the outside of the Space Station during his spacewalk. He didn't think that was very funny.

But I've invited him to contribute a guest post, or at least a photo or two while he's in orbit. He didn't flat-out say no. We'll see whether his schedule permits that.

Meanwhile, pray for Jeff, and also for his sweet wife Anna-Marie. (You can barely imagine the stress she must endure during her husband's six-month orbit). Pray for a safe launch and a safe mission, and please keep both Jeff and Anna-Marie in your prayers during the next six months.

We'll keep you updated.


29 March 2006; 6:3opm PST:

29 March 2006; 6:31pm PST:

31 March 2006; 8:20pm PST:

Phil's signature


donsands said...

Amazing stuff. Going back to the Moon, and then to Mars? Man! I never knew they we're planning on that.
I'll keep our brother in prayer as I remember him.
May our Lord be greatly glorified in this trip to the space station. Amen.

Patrick Chan said...

Wow, that's wonderful! :-) All the best to Jeff while he's up there. May he glorify the Lord in his space mission! :-)

Gordon said...

This blog is really out of this world!

Gryphonette said...

God bless you, Jeff, and for pity's sake...take PICTURES! ;^)

Will be praying for y'all's health and safety, and for Anna-Marie's emotional equilibrium while you're gone.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

I heard Jeff speak at a TMS banquet a few years back. He is a wonderful man with an awesome testimony of how God has worked in his life.

One Salient Oversight said...

I don't know Phil, having a guy away from his wife for 6 months sounds kinda ungodly to me ;)

Rick Potter said...

One of my best friends (and investor in my business) was an engineer on the tile program for the shuttle. I enjoy hearing his Nasa stories. I wish my best to Jeff and his wife and family and will keep them in my prayers.


Daniel Portela said...

Go Brazil and go Jeff!

Juice said...

When I was in college we lived in the Los Angeles area and went to plenty of unusual, late-night kind of placed. We met a lot of interesting people who would try and impress you by who they "knew". You know, "name dropping".

Well, we had a little test that would tell us if someone was lying or not. The test was simple, ask them if they knew an astronaut. If they answered yes we knew we couldn't trust what they were saying.


Chris Freeland said...

I hope he blogs from space. I wonder how your stat counter or google maps program will log THAT.

Scott McClare said...

He also has one of the original PyroManiac decals. I dared him to stick it on the outside of the Space Station during his spacewalk. He didn't think that was very funny.

I guess this proves that one's sense of humour is proportional to the effect of gravity on his body!

Strictly out of interest: If you look at photos of the ISS, it's got these round, black and white target decals slapped all over it. It so happens I once worked for the company who put them there.

Carla Rolfe said...

I loved the caption on the second pic, lol. Great, now I have Bowie stuck in my head as I head off to bed. Thanks Phil. :-/

Away From The Brink said...

Actually, it is an Elton John song...

Chris Pixley said...


Thanks for this excellent update. I remember some years ago when Col. Williams paid a visit to the staff at Grace to You after having taken a CD version of the MacArthur Study Bible with him on his journey to space aboard the shuttle. He showed us some fascinating images he had taken from space, using them to illustrate many truths revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. My favorite was the picture of the storm crossing over the (Cananary?) Islands that, from the perspective of space, seemed to be wonderfully under control--a thing of beauty really. Col. Williams exhorted us to remember that the storms of life seem, from our earthly perspective, to be out of control and wreaking havoc in our lives, but are really firmly in God's soverign control as He alone stands outside of them. In fact, He is orchesrtating and using them to accomplish His good and glorious purposes in the lives of His people (Rom. 8:28). I've used the story of that picture as an illustration many times since in my own Bible teaching ministry!

That day helped to generate in me a real interest in NASA and space exploration. I've followed their work from a distance during the years since being introduced to Col. Williams. Your post rekindled that interest, and in the course of my investigation on NASA's website last night I was compelled to catch an early morning glimpse of the ISS as it crossed the Tampa sky this morning, moving from the west to the north. It was to be viewable for about 3 minutes, but a partly cloudy sky reduced my view by about half. However, it was still a fascinating show, especially knowing that Col. Williams would soon be making that his temporary home.

Thanks again for this intersting post!

Momo said...

You know, just when I was getting worried about making sure I didn't get too 'worldly' in any of my attempts at humor here, Phil goes and quotes Elton John, the Queen of Rock-n-roll.

(The only way I knew that is because Turk told me)

Carla Rolfe said...

Technically, Freddy Mercury would be the Queen of rock-n-roll, but that's all beside the point.

I knew that was Elton John, I just had a brain-memory-typo. Both did songs about the same time, that were similar and I just spaced off. (no pun intended).


Mike Perrigoue said...


Hey Phil...speaking of decals...where's a good place to stick that thing. I got mine from you at the Shepherds Conference and recently found it in my gift "sermonizer" (I don't serminize...yet).

Anyhow, without stroking your ego too much...you should post on the top five places to stick the decal.

I need some ideas...