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.

Photos and Videos by @Astro_Wheels

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To all of my friends and teammates on the ‘Space Coast’…a beautiful summer day over Cape Canaveral, Florida . This is a magical place…an inspiring display of nature and technology in complete harmony. Launch Complex 39 sitting proudly in the middle of a thriving wildlife refuge. A unique place that launched a generation of scientists, engineers, explorers and dreamers. We cannot let this place fall silent…

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We are just caretakers of a priceless Masterpiece. Words escape me, as I watch the Earth dance…“Starry, starry night…Flaming flowers that brightly blaze…Swirling clouds in violet haze…Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue…Colors changing hue…morning field of amber grain…Weathered faces lined in pain…Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand…”

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“Fly me to the Moon…let me dance among the Stars…” I hope we never lose our sense of wonder. A passion for exploration and discovery is a noble legacy to leave to our children. I hope we set our sails and venture out one day. That will be one glorious day…

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Of all the places on our glorious planet, few rival the brilliant colors of The Bahamas. Here is a view of our Progress-37 re-supply spacecraft, with the islands of The Bahamas as a backdrop. What a wonderful world!

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I have been enjoying the stunning and unique landscape of South America, and often find myself without words to describe the beauty. Here is a photo of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile with the majestic Andes stretching the length of the continent. Lake Titicaca takes center stage in this photo, on the border of Peru and Bolivia.

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“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…?” A clear beautiful summer day in Acapulco , Mexico . Now that things are back to normal operations aboard the Space Station, I’ve been able to look out the windows a bit more and soak in the waning summer. I am careful not to wish away time, but I am excited to soon see the colors of the Autumn…my favorite season.

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On the end of the robotic arm, preparing the new Pump Module for its ride up into position on the ISS starboard truss. I am so proud of Shannon maneuvering the arm. She really performed flawlessly and she really took care of me, for which I am very grateful. I told her that I need to take out an insurance policy on her golden hands.

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We exited the airlock for EVA 3, with the momentum in our favor and a tremendous amount of confidence in the team. We hit a couple of snags along the way, but we were able to overcome those and get the Pump Module installed and everything connected, including the M3 Ammonia Connector! Seized the moment for a photo op with Fyodor watching us form the Soyuz window.

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My version of…‘a sling and five smooth stones’…getting prepared to face my ‘giant’, the M3 Ammonia Connector. This is my ‘mini work station’ (MWS) that connects to the front of my space suit. As Abe Lincoln once said...”If I were given six hours to chop down a tree…I would spend four hours sharpening my axe”.

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Space ‘walking’?...Maybe not, but riding on the end of the robotic arm is a real perk of the job. A very unique opportunity and when you get a chance to move away from the structure of the Space Station, the view is profound and life-changing.

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We used the robotic arm extensively on EVA 2, with Shannon at the controls. I am so grateful for her precision flying the arm. This photo demonstrates the delirious darkness of deep space and the sterile colorless structure of the Space Station, white and black and metallic…but when you turn toward our Earth, it is an absolute explosion of color, motion and life, a very sharp contrast that takes your breath away.

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Traveling at 17,500 miles per hour (5 miles per second)…we orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, with a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes. So half of our space walk is in complete darkness. The helmet lights are essential at the work sight. Here I am getting the bail drive lever ready for my arch nemesis…the ‘M3 Ammonia Connector’. The dance begins…

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Exiting the airlock on EVA 2 in the daylight. The colors of the Earth just explode at you as you exit toward the planet. Notice what looks like scorch marks on the hatch thermal cover, the effect of vacuum and atomic oxygen on the threads and thread sealant used on the thermal cover. The ‘smell’ of space follows suit, I’ve heard it described like burnt cake or cookies, or like the smell of an extinguished match.

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“Now I understand what you tried to say to me…How you suffered for your sanity…How you tried to set them free…They would not listen…they did not know how…Perhaps they'll listen now…”

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“…Shadows on the hills…Sketch the trees and the daffodils…Catch the breeze and the winter chills…In colors on the snowy linen land…”

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The sacred night makes me think of my favorite impressionist and one of my favorite songs...”Starry, starry night…Paint your palette blue and gray…Look out on a summer's day,... With eyes that know the darkness in my soul….”

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“Think you can, think you can’t; either way, you’ll be right.” - Henry Ford

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All suited and ready to go. Focusing on the choreography we have planned. I figured out quickly that this spacewalking is as much an art as it is a science. More like a dance than a fight. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but that’s okay. I am just a pair of hands…the brains and genius of our support team are with us every step of the way. That is comforting in these final moments of preparation.

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The M3 ammonia connector awaits our return to the arena outside the Space Station. One last visual check of my tools and tethers. Fyodor is attaching my airlock safety tether. My mind is continually pouring over tasks and procedures. It’s game time and our team is ready. Time to rock!

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Stepping out into the darkness…A view of the crewlock hatch from the window of our Soyuz capsule ‘Olympus’. Fyodor captured this shot at the moment I was exiting the airlock to assess the failed Pump Module. There are no words to adequately describe the view and the flood of emotion experienced from this vantage point.

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