Has the International Space Station (ISS) ever been unmanned at any time, or is there always someone on board? A perfect question for #TheOrdinarySpacemanTM to answer! And that answer is a resounding YES! It has been unmanned and there is not always someone on board. Trust me on this one!
Please note I am NOT referring to the time period in 1998, when the first two ISS elements —one U.S., one Russian— were joined together in space and remained unmanned until the Russian Service Module reached orbit in 2000, with the Expedition 1 crew floating over its threshold shortly thereafter. But I AM referring to that time during Expedition 15 —in October of 2007— when indeed, the ISS was definitely abandoned. You see, I was on the crew that abandoned her.
请注意，我指的不是1998年的时间段，当时前两个ISS段（一个美国的，一个俄罗斯的）在太空中对接在一起，并一直无人值守，直到2000年俄罗斯服务舱到达轨道，而Expedition 1机组人员漂浮此后不久超过其阈值。【？？】我指的是2007年10月的Expedition 15，当时的ISS确实被抛弃了。你看，我就是抛弃她的人之一。
Like many of my astronaut colleagues who are fellow-writers, I could choose to try and make this a very dramatic scenario. You know, like, I could talk about how some sort of drastic emergency caused us to hurriedly depart the station, unsure and fearing for our lives. But hey… I’m not going to do that to you. We abandoned the station for a very simple reason, and only for a period of about 20 minutes or so. We needed to change parking spaces!
At that time in our expedition, we were expecting a Soyuz launch bringing us the Expedition 16 crew. In order to facilitate their docking process, we needed to move our Soyuz spaceship from the FGB Nadir port to the Service Module Aft port. This would require us to undock and perform a short fly-around to the re-docking spot. Switching parking spots!
当时，在我们的expedition中，我们曾期望Soyuz的发射能带给我们Expedition 16的船员。为了促进对接过程，我们需要将联盟号飞船从FGB Nadir端口移至“服务模块尾部”端口。我们要取消当前对接，并很快飞到目标对接点。切换对接点！
This 20-minute jaunt through outer space required us to perform about 16 hours worth of planning inside the station. In the highly unlikely event that once undocked, we could not re-dock, we would really have to abandon the station. Serious stuff. We prepped laptop and video cameras to maximize views inside and we readied appropriate systems in the event they would have to function without human contact/support for an extended period of time. I also rigged a Nikon SLR in one of the Service Module’s earth-facing windows in an attempt to photo-document our endeavor as we passed below the station.
The crew of Expedition 15 —safely strapped into our Soyuz spaceship— sailing slowly, some 220 nmi over the Pacific Ocean, having left the ISS abandoned for a short period. Photo captured via a camera/automated timer onboard the ISS.
安全地绑在联盟号飞船上的Expedition 15的船员在太平洋上方约220海里缓慢航行，在短时间内离开了国际空间站。 通过ISS上的相机/自动计时器捕获的照片。
Fortunately our trip came off without a hitch. Starting with a very boring period inside the hatch-closed Soyuz spaceship living quarters (I napped a lot), we eventually donned (at least some of us did) our Sokol space suits and prepared to depart the station. Once separation was initiated, the clock started ticking for the short, 20-minute transit to initiate re-docking. Safely attached to our new aft port, we exited our suits and the Soyuz vehicle to come back “home.” Entering the space station, we re-enabled all the things we had previously made self-sufficient. It didn’t take us sixteen hours this time!
幸运的是，我们的旅行很顺利。 从封闭的联盟号飞船居住区中的一个非常无聊的时候开始（我小睡了很久），我们最终穿上了（至少我们中的一些人）了我们的Sokol太空服【译注：don是NASA对宇航服的非官方称呼】，并准备离开空间站。 一旦开始分离，时钟就会开始滴答作响，停留短暂的20分钟后，就启动重新对接程序。 安全地对接到我们的新的船尾对接口，我们脱下宇航服，从联盟号运载工具返回“家”。进入空间站，我们重新使用了以前的自给自足的所有物品。 这次没有花我们十六个小时！
Keep lookin’ up!