Astronauts take a quick break to chat

February 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
One of the astronauts on board the International Space State Station is local resident Rex Walheim from the Peninsula. He and the others are very busy up there, but they still took some time from outer space to talk to ABC7 News reporter Wayne Freedman.

Wayne Freedman: "Hey it looks like you're set up and your hair is nicely combed."

For us, the day offered one of those rare opportunities. We got a live, exclusive interview, due partly to Astronaut Rex Walheim being from San Carlos. Yesterday, he made the first of three space walks, installing a ten ton addition to the international space station.

ABC7's Wayne Freedman: "Can you compare this with construction work on earth in a high rise? Or is it a different experience?"

Rex Walheim: "It is like high tech construction work because you're sitting on a girder and sometimes you look down, and go wow!! You see how high and fast you're going."

They even had a floating little ball they were tossing around in zero gravity.

"This is a loan from the people here on the space station. They have a few things they've collected over the years. They're great for showing what it's like in microgravity," says Walheim.

We learned that astronauts get to bring along a few small personal items which will become valuable, having flown in space. Those include a magnetic compass and a meteorite, which will be first to enter the atmosphere twice. In Walheim's case, we could see some signs he flashed to his family on NASA's closed circuit before launch.

Rex Walheim: "I told them to watch TV. I hadn't told them what was on there, so I think they knew it might have been coming, but the boys were surprised."

ABC7's Wayne Freedman: "You saved those signs, I would imagine?

Rex Walheim: "I did."

Once, they were scrap paper ? now they're heirlooms.