posted 03-14-2006 12:15 AM
Greg Olsen was in Forked River, NJ yesterday (13 March), at a local elementary school, talking with 3rd and 4th graders about his trip to ISS in order to get them more interested in math and science. I have yet to transcribe my notes for the article I'm writing for the newspaper, but a few things:
This was the 70th or 80th school he had gone to (there was one in Freehold, NJ he did a few months ago.)
Yes, he did bring his Sokol gloves. Yes, he did pass them around. Yes, I did try one on after the kids were done looking at them. And more importantly, yes, he did leave with both of them!
I believe he wore his Russian dark blue flightsuit. For costumers: left sleeve, American flag, white bordered. Left side, top to bottom: Sensors Unlimited name patch, Name patch in English/Cyrillic, TMA-7 patch, Panchenko's Olsen personal patch. Right side, top to bottom: Russian cosmonaut wings, NASA meatball, Space Adventures name patch. Right sleeve: Star City training patch.
He doesn't consider himself a cosmonaut or astronaut. He says he didn't get into space through money, but rather through three words: Don't give up, which was the message he hoped the kids left with.
He'd like to fly again. This time, he'd like to do a spacewalk, which he said is another year's training.
Thankfully, no one asked me if he walked on the moon. (An aside: Ever notice how people think Shuttle astronauts walked on the moon and Apollo astronauts flew on the Shuttle?) No asked him how to go to the bathroom in space, either, but he showed a clip of them literally swapping out the toilet. Olsen gave a neat comparison on the habitation module of the Soyuz, which is filled with garbage and then discarded: It holds 10 of those toilet tanks. Men use a funnel, while women used a sanitary-napkin-type pad which absorbs fluid. Nice to know they still haven't solved the problem of a unisex toilet.
Best part of the trip: floating in space.
Oh, and I outed myself to a fellow reporter, who was covering it for another paper at an earlier time. She wanted to know if I was going, and I replied that I was more than ready, hoisting up my briefcase that had copies of "The Space Tourist's Handbook" and photos for him to sign afterward, if he did sign. She just shook her head at me, and I continued, "I have a poster in my car, I have a backup book in case anyone else shows up, and..." I reached in my waist pack, "...I brought my own Sharpie."