Here at The Mary Sue we love Sunita Williams. How can we not? She holds several records for female astronauts, among them the longest stretch of time spent in space. She’s completed a marathon and a triathlon from up among the stars. And she’s only the second female in history to command the International Space Station. Today at 5:26 PM EST Williams and her crew will undock from the ISS and begin their trip back to Earth. Speaking as an Earthling (well… as far as you know), we’ll be glad to have her back.
On NASA.gov, Williams blogged about her preparations for leaving the ISS after completing the 127-day mission shared by herself, Japan’s Aki Hoshide, and Russia’s Yuri Malenchenko. Writes Williams:
“Last week was busy…and of course it was fun because we are in space! It doesn’t get better than that, even when all your computers don’t work and the toilet gets really broken…
…It took the better part of the day, with a little help from us, for [the computer guys on the ground] to reload the hard drives of two of our main servers. We do the hardware stuff and they can do all the software configurations from the ground. It is interesting to see how vulnerable we are to these types of problems. I know the folks on the ground were scrambling to get all of our systems working again.”
I start to twitch when my Internet goes out, and here Williams is dealing with hardware problems from several hundred miles above the Earth like it ain’t no thang. I know that’s her job, and she’s trained to do it so I shouldn’t be surprised by such levels of everyday badassery, but… still. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Astronauts make just about everyone else look bad.
Oh, and the toilet thing?
“The KTO, or solid waste function of our toilet, was working fine. It was just really the urine processing part. We really need to make sure the right balance of urine to chemicals is put into the system to make sure the downstream components, which turn the urine back into drinking water, don’t fail. As a result, the water valves, all plumbing, two sensors and finally the water pump were all changed out. In the meantime – we used the Russian toilet – all six of us using one toilet is rough!”
To channel my inner Chandler Bing for a moment—could she be more awesome?
Williams, Hoshide, and Malenchenko are scheduled to land back on Earth (in Kazakhstan, specifically) at 7:30 PM EST. If you experience an inexplicable little jolt of happiness at around that time, now you’ll know why: Sunita Williams is back.