Helen Donnelly
Astronaut Mom

Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, pay attention. And make sure Commander Sergei Volkov and spaceflight participant Yi So-yeon hear this, too. I don't care if So-yeon is taking a space walk to calibrate the solar panels. I want her to listen up. We need to have a serious International Space Station talk.

Just look at this mess! It's a disgrace. Is this any way for humans to live in outer space? There are used food tubes everywhere, dirty space suits hanging all over the place, and the automated transfer vehicle from last week is still in the loading dock. Honestly, I hoped you would take some pride in the greatest orbital research platform in history. But it looks like you're set on treating it like some sort of rumpus room.


For Pete's sake—take a little pride in where you live! Have you been in the transfer compartment lately? I'd be surprised if you could even get in there, since there's not even a path that you can walk through to get to it. I swear, it looks like a meteor shower went through here. That may fly in your countries, but when you're with me in the deep reaches of space, that just doesn't cut it.

All I want is to have a nice, clean space station for two minutes put together. Is that too much to ask?

The crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery is coming over in a few weeks and it looks like a disaster area in here. What am I supposed to tell them, that we didn't know they were coming? Do you want to embarrass me in front of NASA? They're bringing new lab equipment with them, and now there's nowhere to put it!

So-yeon, don't think you're getting out of it this time. How hard can it be to pick up your coarsening in solid-liquid experiment-2 materials? Especially when you're in a zero-gravity environment! Maybe if you spent a little more time cleaning up after yourself and a little less time maintaining communications with Earth, this place wouldn't be such a wreck.


When you get old enough to have your own space station, you can treat it however you want. But while you're in my pressurized modules, you will live by my rules!

When is the last time any of you dusted the control moment gyroscopes? Or swept under the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint? You know what, forget it. I'm wasting my breath. If you're not going to take care of the Elektron system that provides oxygen for the entire station, then we're not going to have one anymore. It's just that simple.


All I'm asking for is just a little effort. Sergei, just the other day, you came in from God knows where, tracking comet dust all over the Zvezda service module, and leaving the airlock open behind you like you were born in a barn. You can play loosey-goosey all you want when you're back home, but I will not be sucked into the cold, dark vacuum of space just because you were too lazy to close a door.

Not to mention the draft you're letting in. Criminy! I'm not trying to heat all of the Milky Way.


You better straighten up, because I'm not going to be around to pick up after you forever, you know. Someday, I'll be gone, and then where will you be? I'm sure as heck not going to be here to hang up your space suits once I've been fully debriefed back on Earth. And when you're on your own, I bet you dollars to doughnuts you'll be sorry that you didn't mind me when you had the chance.†

There are going to be some big changes around here, believe you me. Starting today, when you leave the space station to go hang out with your friends by the new docking target, you're going to tell me when I can expect you back. You're going to turn off the lights when you leave a module, and that's final. The combined space agencies of 15 different countries aren't made of money, you know.


I love you astronauts, but sometimes I feel like I'm at the end of my tether. I worry so much about all of you, and all I want is just a little help around the space station. Now, get in here for a big space-hug.

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