I liken the experience of landing in a space shuttle to a good, clean Air Drive landing. But let us go back again to EI (four hundred,000 ft previously mentioned Earth’s surface) and switch our narrative in excess of to the Soyuz, because there are other adjectives to explain that experience. If coming back again to Earth in the shuttle is like driving an airliner, currently being in the Soyuz is like driving a bowling ball.
The first noticeable big difference was soon soon after EI as we reentered the atmosphere. This time it happened in daylight. Capsules like the Soyuz, Apollo, SpaceX Dragon, and Boeing CST-one hundred all use financial institution angle just like an plane does to flip, however considerably considerably less effectively. Although the shuttle had a cross-assortment of a lot more than 1,000 miles, a capsule returning from orbit can typically flip only 50 miles to the still left or right. As we have been zooming in excess of Africa, we banked to the right, and when I seemed out the hatch at the floor down below, we have been going speedy! You don’t discover your speed up in orbit, 250 miles previously mentioned the planet, but by this time we have been only about 50 miles previously mentioned the deserts and mountains, and still zooming by at quite a few miles for each second. It was so remarkable that I scribbled a number of unintelligible notes to myself on my kneeboard, trying to attract my fleeting view when scrunched up in that small capsule and bulky spacesuit.
The real EI stage was also very a little bit different. Whilst I observed the very same pink/orange/pink glow out my window, the Soyuz was considerably a lot more violent. To start with of all, the Soyuz separated into three sections with a big bang minutes before EI: an vacant orbital module, the descent module wherever we have been, and an unmanned provider module. Soon after hitting the atmosphere, the external Soyuz warmth blanket burned off. I had hardly ever been in a flying motor vehicle that was basically ripping apart when I was flying it, but luckily this was for each layout. The believed ‘I hope this disintegration eventually stops‘ did cross my head, but there was nothing I could do in either situation. There have been continuous banging and ripping noises as I watched pieces of the blanket (and who is familiar with what else) fly by my window. Then came the parachute. We had had a briefing by crewmates who had finished this before, and they fundamentally claimed, “You’re heading to consider you are heading to die, but don’t stress, you won’t.” And you know what? It felt like we have been heading to die. But, many thanks to the briefing, Samantha Cristoforetti, my Italian crewmate, Anton Shkaplerov, my Russian crewmate and Soyuz commander, and I had a blast when the drogue chute came out. We have been hooting and hollering and yelling in Russian, “Rooskiy gorkiy!” Which usually means “crazy roller coaster!” In the F-16 group, we would have termed this stage of flight “Mr. Toad’s wild journey.” The tumbling lasted a number of minutes until finally the main parachute lastly deployed and we have been secure and calm, back again at one g.
Up coming came the waiting, as we slowly and gradually descended the remaining number of thousand ft to the Kazakh Steppe. Just when matters appeared to be smoothing out, the seat violently elevated by itself lifting about a foot up from the bottom of the spacecraft. This allowed a shock-absorber gadget to cushion the effects a little bit. Just about every crewmember has his possess sofa, variety-fitted to his entire body mine had been solid about two years prior, at the Energia manufacturing unit close to Moscow. Through that process, you put on white prolonged underwear to protect all of your skin and get decreased by a crane down into wet plaster. When it lastly sets they pull you out, and voilà, you have a seat liner that is molded for your entire body. As the Russian specialists complete this seat, they manually carve out further area previously mentioned the top rated of your helmet space, and I utilised every single little bit of it. On Earth I suit devoid of a dilemma, but soon after two hundred days in space I had developed a number of inches and the top rated of my head was butted up from the top rated of the seat liner.