NASA’s Crew-3 astronauts have been talking about their six-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shortly before their return to Earth.
NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, along with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, answered reporters’ questions during an event on Friday, April 15. All except Marshburn have been on their first mission to space.
The Crew-3 astronauts arrived at the orbiting outpost aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in November 2021. During their stay, they’ve contributed to hundreds of experiments and technology demonstrations and also taken part in spacewalks geared toward maintenance and upgrade work.
The Q&A session kicked off with a question about how they, as professional astronauts, have been getting along with the first NASA astronauts to have paid their own way to the ISS after arriving on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on April 9.
Fortunately, the response was positive, with Marshburn singing their praises. “We’ve had a lot of fun, showing them around, showing them how to live in the space station. They’ve been great crewmates. They’ve been very kind and gracious with us as well and so it’s been a wonderful week.”
Marshburn added that the private crew had brought with them some “incredible hardware” for some “internationally recognized science.”
Responding to a question about the biggest challenge in the early days of the mission, Maurer talked about how the microgravity conditions caused a great deal of disorientation, with no real “up” or “down” existing. “Even if you put something on the wall, and you think, ‘OK I know where it is,’ it’s like you move in space and then you look at it from a different perspective and suddenly it seems like you lost something,” Maurer explained, adding: “That was the most time-consuming point of the first few days, or weeks, even.”
Barron, on the other hand, found the sheer amount of equipment on board the ISS a distraction in the early days, saying that it took her a while to quickly focus on what she had to pay attention to while filtering out everything else.
The astronauts were also asked about their favorite research experiment conducted while aboard the ISS, their top moments from the mission, and what they were most looking forward to doing back on Earth. Watch the video and you’ll also find out why Chari decided to cultivate a mustache while in space.