Nine days … seven astronauts … ONE space station. For ten days millions across the globe have followed the adventures of Stephanie, Mike, Steve, Piers, Mark, Thomas and Lisa … as NASA TV brought us 24/7 live images from cameras inside and outside the International Space Station.
Day by day the location and dangers of space have tested the endurance of these seven heroes; the men and women have had to form their own cooperative space station society, preparing for dangerous challenges, and using their collective wits to make surviving, without the comforts and conveniences of Earth, a little easier.
It’s the ultimate reality TV show, and only six will return to the surface this weekend, while one, one of the seven astronauts, will be left behind at the station.
Deprived of their family, friends and gravity, the seven astronauts have thus far performed outstandingly in all challenges. Highlights of the mission so far have been the three enduring spacewalks, heartwarming challenges, in which we all saw how Piers and Mike bonded as they were instructed to perform the most difficult of maneuvers in their space suits.
We gasped when Piers’ emergency jet thruster backpack started to loosen on two connection points; we laughed when Mike’s tether was entangled with Piers’; and we wiped away a tear when the station flew over the British Isles and Piers said: “Wow! Oh, my goodness. It’s a beautiful day in Ireland.”
Today, the crew will undock from the station and start their perilous journey back to Earth. Will the NASA astronauts survive their re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere? The Shuttle has been cleared for re-entry, but will it’s heat shield withstand the tremendous energy that will be unleashed upon it to safely bring our six heroes back?
Tune in Monday at 9am GMT for the grand finale, when Space Shuttle Discovery breaks orbit for a landing at the Kennedy Space Center.