Extra Day In Space: The Human Side

When NASA chose to forego landing opportunities Monday and keep shuttle Discovery in orbit until at least Tuesday morning, it undoubtedly set off a chain emotions in the crew, according to former astronaut Dr. Kathryn Thornton.

While "there's no bad day in space," Thornton co-anchor Rene Syler on The Early Show Monday, "I think they were probably disappointed. They've already had one extension on this mission. They were suited up, strapped in and ready to come home and see their families. So I would think it would be a bit of a disappointment to them."

There's plenty involved in suiting up, Thornton explained. The crew members have to put on their launch-and-entry suits, and they "have a layer of thermal underwear under that. They have to strap in. They have oxygen lines and communication lines that have to be hooked up. And it's a bit of work to get that set up. Now they have to take it all down, prepare for another night in space and set it up again (Tuesday)."

Are there any things they stowed for landing that would have had to be taken back out?

"There may be a few things they'll take out. But they're (well) into this day. So they're most of the way finished with this day. They're reconfiguring to be a spaceship for another night. By the time they finish that, it will be almost time for them to go to bed."

Thornton became an astronaut in 1985, and flew on four shuttle missions before retiring in 1996, to join the faculty at the University of Virginia.
  • Jill Preschel

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