American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria splashed down in NaJomtien for the launching of Heliotrope, a luxury yacht built at the Bakri Cono shipyards in the Ocean Marina complex.
Michael is a member of the Bakri Cono technical advisory committee and the launch was the culmination of years of work by the Bakri Cono management group.
Astronaut Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, Expedition 14 commander and NASA space station science officer, participated in the final of three sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) in nine days, Feb. 8, 2007, as construction continued on the International Space Station.
Michael was a Navy pilot and graduated to astronaut training, finally ending up recording four space missions to the International Space Station (ISS), 10 space walks and the second longest stay in space, being over six months.
In an exclusive interview for PMTV he explained the rigorous training given to astronauts, which included psychological assessment. With astronauts subjected to stresses which us earthlings can only imagine, a strong psyche is required.
Michael E. Lopez-Alegria
He described the feeling of weightlessness living in the ISS and its micro-gravity. To maintain fitness on a walking road, the astronauts have to fasten themselves to the equipment with bungee cords. Likewise, when sleeping, the sleeping bag can move in any direction and it takes time to get used to the fact you are not lying on something solid.
When cooped up in the ISS with sometimes just one other inhabitant, I asked how did he know he would get along with the other person, who might be Russian, for example. Michael, who actually seemed very easy-going, said that he had never had that problem, and always got along well with the others. He did point out that the ISS is much larger than most people imagine, being the size of a five bedroom house. Sometimes he could go all day and not even see the other astronauts.
The working week in the ISS is five and a half days, and the work is quite wearing at times. During space walks, the astronauts tether themselves to the ISS, to avoid floating away, though they have propulsion backpacks which can be used in an emergency to get them back to the safety of the ISS.
With the American space shuttles now museum exhibits, Michael was transported up and back in Russian Soyuz rockets. The flights up were fairly good, but the descents and re-entry could be somewhat exciting!
He felt that the real heroes in space were the early pioneers who landed on the moon, as the known level of technology was very much less than today.
These days, he has left NASA and flies a desk, admitting that it is a completely different lifestyle, and one that he obviously is trying to come to terms with. After orbiting the earth at 28,000 km/h, life on earth is certainly much slower!
Dr Iain Corness speaks to Michael in an exclusive interview for PMTV.
Backdropped by a cloud-covered Earth, Space Shuttle Discovery is featured in this image while docked with the International Space Station.
Astronauts Sunita Williams (L) and Michael Lopez-Algeria are shown during a spacewalk on the International Space Station, Jan. 31, 2007.
The International Space Station above the western Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.
Wearing Santa Claus hats, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin (left), Expedition 14 flight engineer representing Russia’s Federal Space Agency; astronaut Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, commander and NASA space station science officer; and astronaut Sunita L. Williams, flight engineer, pose for a holiday photo in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station.
Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, trims commander Michael E. Lopez-Alegria’s hair in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Tyurin used hair clippers fashioned with a vacuum device to garner freshly cut hair.
Bakri Cono Shipyard Director of International Sales Philippe Guenat (left) and MD Bernard Lamprect (right) proudly welcome former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria (2nd left) and Eco Adventurer Raphael Domjan (2nd right) two distinguished members of the Bakri Cono technical advisory board at the launch of the Heliotrope, the 1st solar assisted luxury catamaran yacht in the world.