August 18, 2007
LONGUEUIL, QUE. — As he prepares for a record-breaking spacewalk, a modest Dave Williams spoke yesterday from the International Space Station about the “real thrill” of just being able to participate in the mission and see “spectacular” panoramic views of Earth.
Dr. Williams is scheduled to go outside the space station today for his third spacewalk, more than any other Canadian astronaut has performed.
Speaking from space to reporters gathered at the Canadian Space Agency, Dr. Williams played down his achievement and instead highlighted the international teamwork during the mission.
“I think what’s really exciting is looking forward to the future, when we have more folks from different countries being able to come and live and work in space,” he said.
“But, for me, it’s just a real thrill being part of this whole mission and getting a chance to get outside and do three spacewalks.”
The record-breaking spacewalk is just the beginning.
“I dream of the future, seeing a Canadian astronaut walking on the surface of the moon, participating in an international mission back to the moon, and perhaps going back to Mars as well,” he said.
His second spacewalk of the 14-day mission took place earlier this week. He said that while he was floating weightlessly outside the space station, tethered to the robotic Canadarm, the view was indescribable.
“You really can’t see your feet at all. But all around you, you’ve got this panoramic view of the Earth beneath you. It’s absolutely spectacular,” he said.
For the past week, NASA has been occupied with a gouge on shuttle Endeavour’s belly.
Tiles that are part of the ship’s heat shield were gashed during liftoff, and mission managers ordered several tests to determine whether they needed to be repaired in orbit.
Mission managers have opted against any risky spacewalk repairs, based on the recommendations of hundreds of engineers.
The crew of the shuttle said they have complete confidence in the decisions of the engineers.
Dr. Williams said he has “100-per-cent faith,” as the decision wasn’t one taken lightly.
“In the space program, we don’t take chances. We manage risk. We’re in the business of mitigating risk,” he said.
On a lighter note, he said he thoroughly enjoyed “Canasnacks,” food developed in Canada for shuttle astronauts. In particular, he said he liked caribou jerky from Rankin Inlet.
“That’s great to help me get ready to go do a spacewalk. It’s really nutritional and really helps me get going,” he said.