German astronaut Thomas Reiter said on Saturday he was struggling with gravity but enthralled by space after coming back to Earth following six months on the International Space Station.
Reiter, the first non-American and non-Russian to spend an extended period on the orbiting station, was aboard the space shuttle Discovery when it touched down in the US on Friday evening.
The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut carried out dozens of scientific experiments on subjects from nuclear fusion to the human immune system and helped prepare for a European science laboratory module called Columbus to be added to the space station next year.
Reiter said he was relieved to return safely, even though he might have to spend Christmas in Houston under medical supervision as he readjusts to gravity.
"The first hours are no fun. If you move your head even slightly, you feel totally dizzy," Reiter said.
"It's not so nice for the kids, but they are happy that their pop is back," Reiter said from Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he was greeted on Friday by his wife and two sons.
He said he was recovering slowly, also thanks to a longed-for breakfast of ham and eggs, orange juice and coffee.
Reiter spent six months in the mid-1990s on Russia's Mir space station, where he also performed two spacewalks, and said it had been interesting to see how technology had changed on the stations and to compare the Russian Soyuz spacecraft with the NASA shuttle.
This time, he performed one space walk in a US space suit and found it "more ergonomic, but also more complicated," noting that the NASA suits have to be returned to Earth for servicing.
Reiter's arrival on July 6 brought the station's long-stay crew back to three for the first time since 2003, after the Columbia disaster halted the shuttle program.
Reiter said he thought of the seven astronauts who died aboard Columbia before Discovery began its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
"But such a thought goes through your head for just a split-second and then it is gone and you concentrate on what you have to do," he said.
He spent more time marveling at the views from space, whether looking out of a window on the station while playing a guitar kept there to help the astronauts relax or even during his space walk.
"Imagine spinning at nearly 28,000km per hour around the earth and looking up at the station, this huge structure: it is simply fantastic," he said.
He said he would like to return to space, but acknowledged that many ESA colleagues were awaiting their first chance.
"I've spent almost a year in space," he said. "That's just fine."
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
CHANGING PERCEPTIONS: In its tender, the Hong Kong administration said that it had failed to ‘mobilise the community to support law enforcement actions’ The Hong Kong government has agreed to pay millions of pounds to a discreet London-based PR firm to counter coverage of the territory in the international media. Consulum, which has also represented Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was on Monday awarded the ￡5 million (US$6.2 million) one-year contract to improve Hong Kong’s reputation — the same day that China passed national security legislation targeting the territory. The Mayfair-based PR business was founded by Tim Ryan and Matthew Gunther Bushell, two former employees of Bell Pottinger, an agency that has been criticized for representing some governments and leaders that other businesses