The first married couple to fly together in space has spent little time together aboard Endeavour - just a "wave as we pass in the tunnel going to work each day," astronaut Jan Davis said Thursday.
Davis and payload commander Mark Lee are married, but assigned to work opposite 12-hour shifts inside the Spacelab research module. At a news conference this morning, the couple said the only time they've shared is the 15-minute handover between shifts.They married in January 1991, more than a year after being assigned to the mission. NASA made an exception to its policy barring husbands and wives from flying in space together since the pair had invested so much time training.
"We don't see much of each other . . . but nevertheless, we're still sharing this flight, and I've really enjoyed it," Davis said.
"We just kind of wave as we pass in the tunnel going to work each day," she said, referring to the passage that links the Spacelab module in the payload bay to Endeavour's middeck.
Mamoru Mohri, the first professional Japanese astronaut, said crew members generally have adapted to each other's cultures, but pilot Curtis Brown Jr. disliked his gift of an "umeboshi," a salty pickled plum considered a Japanese staple.
"I think this is international cooperation at best, U.S. and Japan. Except for the pickled plum, we get along just fine," Mohri said with a laugh through a translator.
The crew news conference followed two interviews this morning with astronaut Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space. She praised the views of Earth from Endeavour.
"We've passed over the world several different times of course now, we've looked at the continents pass by, and that has been spectacular," she said.
NASA on Wednesday extended the voyage from seven to eight days, allowing the seven-member crew to collect more data on about half the shuttle's 43 experiments. The flight is scheduled to end on Sunday at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The spacecraft's zoological cargo includes as many as 440 tadpoles conceived and hatched in space, four frogs, two carp, 180 hornets, 7,600 flies and 30 fertilized chicken eggs.
The tadpoles hatched Wednesday. Lee beamed down video of the transparent critters.
"They're growing in the incubator, and they're doing quite well," Jemison said Thursday. Until this mission, no creature, other than an insect, had been conceived and born in space.
Ken Souza, a frog researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., said the tadpoles will be allowed to mature after the flight and will be bred to see whether their offspring exhibit any abnormalities.