I’ve never seen the galley so full. Actually, even the Old Salties I was sitting with remarked that they had never seen the galley so full. Except when John Kerry turned up. But he was Secretary of State and was actually on station. I wasn’t here for that, I was at South Pole, where he was supposed to turn up, but never did. But I imagine he would’ve packed the galley there too.
So the only time the galley had ever been this full was for an appearance by the Secretary of State. The second most full was for a phone call. Well, a video chat.
With the International Space Station.
From the ass end of the planet, we chatted with someone not even on the planet. This past week, the first ever all-female space walk went down (up?). As it so happens, it was also the first ever all Antarctican space walk. Jessica the Antarctican Astronaut, gave us an almost full tour of the ISS including the classic drinking water in zero gravity trick, the space toilet and even proudly sported an Antarctica t-shirt. Which was delivered to the ISS with some cargo. So you can get a t-shirt to space, but not freshies or packages to McMurdo.
Then, as the tour continued, we came to the split between the Russian section and the non-Russian section. Which we didn’t get a tour of. Because the wifi cuts out in the Russian section.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, there was an Italian getting on the treadmill. Which was on the wall perpendicular to the plane of space she was currently occupying. Because in space, all walls are the floor if you want. Turns out, you also don’t need a seat for the exercise bike. Imagine that – you can ride a bike all day and never get chafed.
Space for the win.
And finally, Jessica the Antarctican Astronaut went into the 7 windowed observation area. And pointed the computer camera out for us to see it.
We saw France. Like, all of France. And then Jessica the Antarctican Astronaut made a joke. And then back to camera pointing to Earth and by that point we were looking at Poland. Because the ISS laps the planet about every 90 minutes. And during the last bit of the Q&A, the camera pointed at Earth. And during the whole presentation, grown adults, many of them cynical and salty, were grinning like little kids. The man behind me, who I wintered with a few years back, let out a squeak/yelp when the feed momentarily cut out. I think he may have actually stopped breathing.
I heard multiple people utter that it was the coolest thing they’d ever done in Antarctica.
Because, really, what could be cooler than a private tour of the International Space Station, from an Antarctican, while eating fresh popcorn with stale hot sauce in the galley of McMurdo?
(I’ve now had the second man to step foot on the moon confirm he was, in fact, on the moon AND seen the roundness of the Earth. Antarctica for the win.)