Douglas H. Wheelock

@Astro_Wheels

Test Pilot; NASA Astronaut: STS-120 & ISS-25; Space Station Commander; Aspiring Poet; Inspired by quiet moments, kindness and the power of the spoken word.

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Do you remember where you were at 11:32pm, Greenwich Mean Time, on Saturday July 31, 2010?  Shannon, Tracy and I were in the Space Station, along with our Russian Cosmonaut teammates; Sasha, Misha, and Fyodor…orbiting the Earth at 5 miles / 8 kilometers per second, when the alarms sounded and the Space Station began to shutdown.  There is something in the human spirit, deep down at the soul-level that is transformed when you encounter such an ‘event’.  An ammonia pump on the outside of the Space Station failed.  It was one of those moments in which NASA shines, against all odds, in the face of the unknown, when hope seems lost.  We were called on to conduct three complex and very challenging spacewalks totaling more than 22 hours in the vacuum of space.  I was covered in ammonia as I wrestled with the M3 ammonia connector.  Tracy and I were outside and Shannon flew me around on the end of the robotic arm.  Well…victory is sweet indeed…recently in a clean room in Houston, Shannon, Tracy, and I were reunited with the failed pump module that came back to Earth in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on #STS135.  My nemesis, the M3 ammonia connector is uncovered in this photo.  Many thanks to our NASA engineers that turned these frightening and critical moments into one of NASA’s finest hours.

“When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown.  Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen.  There will be solid ground to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”

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1024 days ago

Do you remember where you were at 11:32pm, Greenwich Mean Time, on Saturday July 31, 2010? Shannon, Tracy and I were in the Space Station, along with our Russian Cosmonaut teammates; Sasha, Misha, and Fyodor…orbiting the Earth at 5 miles / 8 kilometers per second, when the alarms sounded and the Space Station began to shutdown. There is something in the human spirit, deep down at the soul-level that is transformed when you encounter such an ‘event’. An ammonia pump on the outside of the Space Station failed. It was one of those moments in which NASA shines, against all odds, in the face of the unknown, when hope seems lost. We were called on to conduct three complex and very challenging spacewalks totaling more than 22 hours in the vacuum of space. I was covered in ammonia as I wrestled with the M3 ammonia connector. Tracy and I were outside and Shannon flew me around on the end of the robotic arm. Well…victory is sweet indeed…recently in a clean room in Houston, Shannon, Tracy, and I were reunited with the failed pump module that came back to Earth in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on #STS135. My nemesis, the M3 ammonia connector is uncovered in this photo. Many thanks to our NASA engineers that turned these frightening and critical moments into one of NASA’s finest hours.

“When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown. Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen. There will be solid ground to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”

16 Comments

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Stelygs 1022 days ago

Moving reunion:) How to forget 3 heroes who,far from the ground,learnt to fly so well & saved the ISS?I was sound asleep after a hiking day...yr night was def more exciting, Cdr :)

lindaleigh 1024 days ago

you guys look like me at work all gowned and gloved up. hooray for you guys fixing a broken station

PC0101 1024 days ago

The beginning of the ammonia pump story … Love that shot of the three doctors, in perfect surgical operation gear ;-)

Kikucchi 1024 days ago

i was probably working. following your tweet & watching NASA footage. did not realize danger of your space operation until much later. you all made it look so easy and cool out in the space. great to see 3-space amigos reunited! nice smiles, cool outf

Spacecad2010 1024 days ago

I remember well. I watched every minute of it and worked almost as hard as you did!

Geshiela 1024 days ago

..So what then is the cause of the pump failure?...just curious...

STfangirl 1024 days ago

Do you remember, guys? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SELeInGh72M&feature=player_embedded From 6:14... "The Big Hammer Maneuver"... :-))

bergholt 1024 days ago

Thank you sir, not least for providing a great example of how a team should deal with a crisis.

liaescribano 1024 days ago

I think i was working ...I heard about the problems with the pump next day on morning news...:S

Magica_D 1024 days ago

I watched on NASA TV those spacewalks. That was something!!!
Old russian rule: If something doesn't work - hit it! :)

STfangirl 1024 days ago

I already remember! I was really in the Hyde Park, I wanted to take some night photos but my camera went wrong... :-( What a solidarity! :-))

HimeIshida 1024 days ago

I don't know (think I was sleeping....) but I remember the pump. I wish everybody could read your posts, I can feel the passion in them. What you say at the end it's true, even if I see the thing in that way only recently. That gives you that strenght to

STfangirl 1024 days ago

Oh, the pump! I'll never forget it!
Memory game? XD At 11:32 pm GMT, on Saturday, July 31, 2010... errrr...it's difficult to say without seconds... ;-P I took pics of the Hyde Park (I think) ;-)

AnaMSanPer 1024 days ago

You are brave (los tres). (I was probably in my house, writing or reading. No conocía aún esta comunicación en twitter). Thank you for all.

andrewjbrooks1 1024 days ago

I was watching NASA TV when it happened,I'd not long been watching NASA TV then, nice repair work!

tourmaline1973 1024 days ago

I will always remember EVA4 on 16 August 2010 - yourself & Tracy C-D were installing the pump, during the EVA time, on Earth my niece was born <3