Two days on board the Soyuz isn’t as good as two days on board the space station.
Definitely, all the changes they’ve put in have improved the reliability of the vehicle. That’s how the Russians do their progression, it’s small steps changing out a few things at a time, making sure they work before they progress to the next level.
I think it’s a very reliable vehicle to begin with, and I think the changes they’ve put in will make it even more reliable.
One of the more interesting experiments for me, because of my background, is going to be looking at how stem cells grow and also potentially looking at how a bacteria grows and multiplies and how mutations occur and doing the genetic sequencing of those cells.
But we’re doing a large variety of different scientific experiments, including combustion, crystallization, animal biology, plant biology.
We’re trying to understand why crew members sometimes have more rashes or more allergies than we do on the ground, and trying to improve how people live in space for long periods of time.
Obviously, we’ve been looking at bone loss for quite some time, and we’re continuing with that, trying to understand what is the minimum amount of exercise you can (safely) do.
The most important thing about the station is the friendships and the work we accomplish there.
I plan on hanging out in the Cupola window quite a bit.
All right, yes, I’m old.
In terms of goals for Nasa before I die, we need to be living on Mars. And I might not live that long, so they better get on with it!
When I got back from Expedition 16 [in 2008], I became chief of the [Astronaut] Office.
It was actually a very satisfying job, but I did know that I still wanted to fly again — at least, I was not willing to say I didn’t want to fly anymore. So that’s when I stepped down to get back in line [for a flight].
I definitely am a different astronaut now. I have a much bigger-picture perspective.