I liken the knowledge of landing in a area shuttle to a wonderful, sleek Air Power landing. But let us go again to EI (four hundred,000 ft above Earth’s surface) and switch our narrative in excess of to the Soyuz, due to the fact there are other adjectives to explain that knowledge. If coming again to Earth in the shuttle is like riding an airliner, staying in the Soyuz is like riding a bowling ball.
The first apparent variance was soon following EI as we reentered the ambiance. This time it occurred in daylight. Capsules like the Soyuz, Apollo, SpaceX Dragon, and Boeing CST-100 all use lender angle just like an airplane does to flip, though a lot a lot less correctly. Though the shuttle experienced a cross-array of a lot more than one,000 miles, a capsule returning from orbit can usually flip only 50 miles to the still left or correct. As we have been zooming in excess of Africa, we banked to the correct, and when I appeared out the hatch at the ground under, we have been shifting rapidly! You don’t notice your velocity up in orbit, 250 miles above the world, but by this time we have been only about 50 miles above the deserts and mountains, and nevertheless zooming by at a number of miles for each next. It was so spectacular that I scribbled a several unintelligible notes to myself on my kneeboard, making an attempt to draw my fleeting watch even though scrunched up in that little capsule and bulky spacesuit.
The true EI phase was also quite a little bit distinctive. Although I observed the same pink/orange/pink glow out my window, the Soyuz was a lot a lot more violent. Initially of all, the Soyuz separated into a few sections with a giant bang minutes ahead of EI: an vacant orbital module, the descent module where by we have been, and an unmanned service module. Following hitting the ambiance, the exterior Soyuz warmth blanket burned off. I experienced hardly ever been in a traveling vehicle that was actually ripping apart even though I was traveling it, but fortunately this was for each style and design. The thought ‘I hope this disintegration sooner or later stops‘ did cross my mind, but there was nothing I could do in either circumstance. There have been consistent banging and ripping noises as I viewed parts of the blanket (and who is familiar with what else) fly by my window. Then came the parachute. We experienced experienced a briefing by crewmates who experienced done this ahead of, and they in essence mentioned, “You’re going to think you’re going to die, but don’t worry, you won’t.” And you know what? It felt like we have been going to die. But, many thanks to the briefing, Samantha Cristoforetti, my Italian crewmate, Anton Shkaplerov, my Russian crewmate and Soyuz commander, and I experienced a blast when the drogue chute came out. We have been hooting and hollering and yelling in Russian, “Rooskiy gorkiy!” Which usually means “crazy roller coaster!” In the F-sixteen neighborhood, we would have named this phase of flight “Mr. Toad’s wild trip.” The tumbling lasted a several minutes till the most important parachute lastly deployed and we have been secure and quiet, again at one g.
Future came the waiting, as we slowly and gradually descended the remaining several thousand ft to the Kazakh Steppe. Just when issues appeared to be smoothing out, the seat violently elevated itself lifting about a foot up from the base of the spacecraft. This authorized a shock-absorber product to cushion the effects a little bit. Just about every crewmember has his own couch, form-equipped to his overall body mine experienced been forged about two decades prior, at the Energia manufacturing facility around Moscow. All through that technique, you set on white long underwear to address all of your pores and skin and get decreased by a crane down into moist plaster. When it lastly sets they pull you out, and voilà, you have a seat liner that is molded for your overall body. As the Russian technicians complete this seat, they manually carve out more room above the prime of your helmet area, and I employed every single little bit of it. On Earth I fit with no a issue, but following 200 days in area I experienced developed a several inches and the prime of my head was butted up from the prime of the seat liner.