|STS-133 Crew Walkout - thanks Max-Q Entertainment|
for holding me high up to wave the crew!
It has these amenities because the astronauts who stay there are critical to the mission and there are strict requirements to keep them quarantined from potential infections.
For crew members staying in the living area, the accommodations offer something between a chance to brush up on last-minute changes and an opportunity to take stock of life and career.
A team of flight crew support specialists is looking forward to cheering and waving as space shuttle Discovery's STS-133 crew members exit the Operations and Checkout Building, board the Astrovan and head to Launch Complex 39 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
|The Operations and Checkout Building|
Later, many of them will watch as Discovery lifts off from pad 39A on Feb. 24, 2011. The team's thoughts and good wishes will go out to crew for a successful mission to the International Space Station.
Lauren Lunde, with NASA, Judy Hooper, with United Space Alliance, and several others, take care of the astronauts 24/7 in the Astronaut Crew Quarters during preflight training and leading up to all shuttle launches. In this home away from home, they work in shifts, with additional staff called in as needed to help cook and clean.
"The crew is extremely busy when they come in," Hooper said. "We could not function without all of the group's efforts to take care of the astronauts."
Those who work in the crew quarters include cooks, attendants, flight data file personnel, flight nurses and other astronauts supporting the crew.
Inside an area that dates back to the Apollo Program are facilities that have been upgraded throughout the years, including a kitchen, staff conference room, crew conference room, workout room, lounge, laundry room, computer room, suit-up room, dining room, medical facility, staff office and prime crew sleeping quarters. Lunde and Hooper said it's their mission to make the astronauts' stay in crew quarters as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
|A technician helps Neil Armstrong put on his spacesuit in Astronaut Crew Quarters before the launch of Apollo 11 to the moon.|
"Their health and well-being are very important," Lunde said. "For this reason, access to crew quarters is limited to the staff and astronaut support personnel leading up to each launch."
Attendants Irene Hancock and Janet McCrary, both with United Space Alliance going on 10 years, are certified food handlers and provide meals for the astronauts and support personnel.
"It feels like family here," Hancock said. "The astronauts share family stories, jokes and laughs with us."
The team's typical day begins at 6 a.m. They get the kitchen going for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Laundry and inventory are completed. Maintenance trouble calls are tended to, and sleeping quarters and the beach house are cleaned.
According to Hooper, the lights in main rooms are adjustable so that daylight can be simulated during the evening, and vice versa, to coincide with the astronauts' circadian sleep rhythms as they prepare for their mission.
|At the STS-130 Crew Walkout - the Astrovan|
|The STS-130 crew waving good-bye!|
|And even more waiving! Bye-bye Flyboy|