Audio Andy Thomas discusses recreation on Mir, 2008

TLF ID R9902

This is an edited sound recording of Australian astronaut and cosmonaut Andy Thomas describing the recreational challenges of living for almost five months aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1998. The recording was made in August 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording gives an insight into part of the experience of living for an extended period in space. Thomas (1951-) spent 141 days aboard Mir, as an astronaut of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He was the seventh and final NASA astronaut to spend time on Mir under a cooperative program between Russia and the USA, launched as a prelude to the building of the International Space Station (ISS).
  • In this recording, Thomas points out the limited resources available for recreation while living in a spacecraft. He outlines a strategy of creatively using what is available, with the aim of creating a good balance between work and recreation. Thomas's recreational activities aboard Mir included doing sketches of what he could see out of the window, and trying the difficult task of playing a guitar in zero gravity.
  • Thomas's time aboard Mir was spent with two Russian cosmonauts who did not speak English. His year-long training program at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow included 'immersion' training in the Russian language. However, he struggled with learning enough non-technical Russian for light social conversations, making his ability to create his own recreation all the more important.
  • Russia had cosmonauts aboard Mir almost continuously from 1986 to 2000, when it was deliberately taken out of orbit, breaking up on re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere. One cosmonaut, Valeri Polyakov, spent 437 days aboard Mir, the longest ever single space flight. NASA astronauts maintained a permanent presence from March 1996 to the end of Thomas's stay in June 1998.
  • Having Thomas and other astronauts aboard Mir enabled NASA to carry out studies about the effects of long-duration spaceflight. The studies paid close attention to psychological aspects of life in space. Possible stresses included a sense of isolation, monotony, confinement or personality clashes with other crew members.
  • Thomas has had four space flights. His first mission was in 1996, when he spent 10 days aboard the shuttle Endeavour - the same shuttle that took him to Mir in 1998. His third and fourth missions were on board the shuttle Discovery in 2001 and 2005, both to the ISS. On the 2001 mission, Thomas spent 6.5 hours on a 'space walk' installing components on the exterior of the ISS.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Andy Thomas
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
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Learning Resource Type
  • Audio
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