Sunita Williams is one of the most experienced spacewalkers in NASA history. Near the conclusion of her final voyage as commander of the International Space Station for NASA in 2012 – a mere twelve hours before landing back to Earth – Williams filmed an informal tour of the quarters where she and other astronauts lived and worked while on space expeditions.
Space Station Tour is a no-frills affair devoid of insert shots or cutaways, and it succeeds in conveying a “you are there” perspective as a result. Williams is obviously an extraordinarily accomplished astronaut who knows every detail of the massive spacecraft, and she’s never less than a congenial, appealing and instructive host during the course of the short film.
The United States, Russia and Japan worked in concert to bring this expedition to fruition. We’re given a guided tour of each nation’s operational modules on the station, and even catch of glimpse of several of Williams’ collaborators along the way. There’s the Columbus module, constructed by the European Space Agency, which is a hub that houses various scientific and medical laboratories. Then there’s the Zvezda Service Module, the central area responsible for the station’s overall function as well as emergency management repair and restoration.
In between are a series of practical spaces which allow for everyday activities under zero gravity conditions. We enter their kitchen area and see a vast menu of food packages representing various cuisines from around the world. Williams shows us the modest exercise equipment aboard the craft, which prove essential in combating the potential for bone density and muscle loss that occurs in space flight. We’re even given a tour of their restroom facilities, which Williams jokingly refers to as their “orbital outhouse”. The overall environment of the station is one of contrasts – it’s massive, yet strangely claustrophobic, messy, yet intricately organized, and technologically awe-inspiring yet basic in many of its everyday living functions.
Space Station Tour offers the closest perspective most viewers are likely to experience of what life is like inside the International Space Station. It’s a point of view that’s certain to delight both space junkies and moderate enthusiasts alike.