Glenn wants to stay another week in space
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Web posted at: 3:46 p.m. EST (2046 GMT)
SPACE CENTER, Houston (CNN) -- The shuttle Discovery has now spent more than a week in space, and the youthful enthusiasm of 77-year-old John Glenn continues to attract attention around the world.
During a news conference with media from the United States, Japan and Europe, Glenn was told that his wife, Annie, was emotional in an interview in which she said she had never seen him happier -- or looking younger.
He was asked what he would say to her, and would he be willing to stay in orbit another week if he could.
"Yes, I wish it could last another week," said a glowing Glenn. "I miss Annie and the family, and I know they've had a long time to wait on the ground, but we're doing good work here, and we'll be home shortly."
Discovery is scheduled to land at 11:50 a.m. Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Annie Glenn and the couple's children, Lyn and David, met earlier in the day with reporters for the first time since the flight began. They said Glenn looked wonderful, and youthful as well.
"All I can tell you is I feel 100 percent better than I did one week ago at this time," said Mrs. Glenn, referring to last Thursday's launch. "I was scared. I was really excited for John, but now I can say day after tomorrow I'm going to be able to touch him. That's very, very special to me."
Mrs. Glenn held up a pack of chewing gum -- the last thing her husband gave her before rocketing away. She said the whole family will chew the pieces once he's back. The gum is a Glenn tradition; before he blasted off back in 1962, Glenn told his wife he was "just going down to the corner to get chewing gum."
'Old folks can have dreams, too'
Another questioner told Glenn that Annie Glenn said his e-mails made him sound "like a little kid."
"Well, I hope I never grow up to where something like this doesn't leave me feeling like a little kid," he said. "Old folks can have dreams, too, and work toward them. This has been a terrific experience, and the main reason we're up here is for science. We're trying to find out what happens to my body compared to my colleagues.
"If I sound a little happy," he added, "it's a true expression of how I feel."
As for the physical demands on his body, Glenn said there had been more than he expected, although he didn't indicate what they were.
He also said he was still "fat-faced" from the shift of fluids into his head in microgravity, and that he had given 10 blood samples and participated in a number of other tests that he hoped would "unlock the secrets of the body." ( 498 K/24 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Flight engineer Steve Robinson was asked if he might not feel neglected while Glenn was getting all the attention.
After joking that he and Scott Parazynski "remind the commander every day that we're here," Robinson said, "We get to fly in space and see views, the likes of which we cannot begin to describe. The rewards of being here are very rich." ( 374 K/18 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
As for the attention Glenn was getting, Robinson said, "He deserves the attention he's getting. He's a wonderful role model for people his age."
Tougher to stay asleep
Parazynski, a physician and the primary medical officer on the flight, said the crew has been "exceptionally healthy."
"There have been very few complaints from anyone," Parazynski said. "Everyone's eating well, and there have been no problems with motion sickness."
Cmdr. Curt Brown noted, however, that sleeping was becoming a problem.
"I have no problem sleeping no matter where I am," he said, "but our sleep cycle is being adjusted forward by 35 or 40 minutes every day, and it's getting a little tougher to stay asleep."
Before the interviews, the crew worked on a number of scientific experiments and tested a new communication system that may be used on spacewalks during future shuttle and International Space Station missions.
They also completed the testing of the OSVS, a system of cameras and relays connected to a laptop computer that will be used during the construction of the new space station.
The crew was awakened Thursday to the sounds of the Moody Blues' "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" ( 196 K/10 sec. AIFF or WAV sound), which was requested by Brown's family.
"Congratulations ... on having just completed 100 flawless orbits of planet Earth," Mission Control said shortly after 5 a.m. EST.
NASA ground controllers were keeping an eye on the remnants of the catastrophic Hurricane Mitch as it lashed into the west coast of Florida.
The shuttle is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, which is on Florida's east coast and in the expected path of Mitch.
But NASA officials said Mitch, rushing to the northeast at 23 mph, would only be a problem if it unexpectedly stalled.
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