ISS Captain Says He'll Be Happy to Return

ByABC News
February 16, 2001, 9:40 AM

Feb. 16 -- The U.S. commanderof the International Space Station said on Thursday the triphas been fun so far, but he will be happy to hand off "a goodship" when a replacement crew arrives.

During an orbital news conference, Bill Shepherd, theExpedition One commander and a U.S. Navy captain, compared histime in space to a tour at sea.

"The first month you're kind of overjoyed and about thefourth or fifth month you're kind of ready to come home. Ithink we'll be happy to turn a good ship over to the nextcrew," he said.

Shepherd and his crewmates, Russians Yuro Gidzenko andSergei Krikalyov, have lived aboard the under-constructionstation since Nov. 2. The Expedition Two crew is set to arriveaboard the space shuttle Discovery the second week of March.Shepherd and his crew will catch a ride home on the return legof the Discovery voyage.

The space shuttle Atlantis is now docked to the station andits crew of five joined the station crew for the Thursday newsconference. Shepherd, the first American to command a spacestation since the three Skylab missions of the 1970s, took mostof the questions.

He said he has not altogether escaped feeling depressed,but if the one example he cited is typical, the mood has notlingered.

Shepherd Admits Depression

He reported that earlier in the week he felt depressedafter long, fruitless hours trying to repair an airrevitalization system.

"Then I had a couple of cups of coffee and thought about itand got up the next day and life was normal again," he said. Some U.S. astronauts who flew aboard the Russian Mirstation in the 1990s reported depression as a consequence oflengthy tours, close confinement and struggles with the Russianlanguage, among other factors.

Two space-shuttle crews have visited the InternationalSpace Station during the Expedition One mission, but Shepherdsaid the visiting astronauts work on such a tight schedule thatsocializing has been kept to a minimum.