Saudi Arabian Prince Sultan Salman Saud and French Air Force Col. Patrick Baudry, speaking their native languages, took millions of Arabic and French-speaking viewers on a televised tour of the space shuttle Discovery.
In the two, 20-minute tours, recorded Wednesday and broadcast today, the foreign members of Discovery's crew took turns floating about the cabin, telling the world in Arabic and French (simultaneously translated into English) of the joys of weightlessness, how they cook in space, what kind of work they do and how they manage little things -- such as putting on their pants in the morning. "Up here in zero G, you can put on your pants two legs at a time," Baudry said.
The Arab prince told the Arab world that he finds it hard to bow to Mecca when praying in orbit because the movement is difficult and the sudden downward shift of his head makes him dizzy.
"When I do my prayers, I'm not able to do a complete bowing down," Saud said, holding onto the T-bar of the shuttle's treadmill to demonstrate why the prayer movement is awkward in weightlessness. "It is very difficult to perform, and it may cause motion sickness up here." "Even now, I feel heavy in the head and back just after showing you how I pray."
Before the tours in Arabic and French, the five American crew members brought Discovery to a flawless rendezvous with a box-like satellite they had released into orbit Thursday. Since then the satellite had used its x-ray telescopes to study superheated gases between a cluster of galaxies in the constellation Perseus and at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Named Spartan, the refrigerator-shaped satellite is the first of a type of low-cost satellite with no cooling system, no backup parts, no radio, no television cameras and only enough maneuvering fuel to last two days in orbit.
"The rendezvous and the regrappling with Spartan was real smooth," astronaut John M. Fabian said after grabbing the Spartan satellite with the shuttle's robot arm. "The satellite was so stable, and depth perception up here is so good that I had no trouble with it at all."
Minutes later, Fabian had the 2,200-pound Spartan fastened down in the shuttle cargo bay, in which it will return to Earth Monday morning at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The satellite's astronomical observations have been recorded on a videotape machine inside the satellite, the only data Spartan's scientists will get to see.
"From all indications, the experiment was successful," mission manager David J. Shrewsberry said at Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The whole two-day affair seemed to have gone by the book."
Like other space travelers, Saud and Baudry were impressed by the shuttle's speed in orbit and the view it gave them of Earth.
"We go from Mecca to Jiddah before I finish this sentence," Saud said.
Saud said he was just as moved by the upside-down view of Earth, especially from the forward end of the cockpit: "The view here is extremely fascinating. The view here shows God's might."
Baudry interrupted his tour to marvel at the sight of Earth: "I must digress on the magnificent sight we have up here. We are coming into sunset right now, and every hour-and-a-half we have the same magic again."
Besides the two foreigners and astronaut Fabian, Discovery's crew includes Navy Capt. Daniel C. Brandenstein, Navy Cmdr. John O. Creighton, Air Force Lt. Col. Steven R. Nagel and biochemist Shannon W. Lucid, the sixth American woman to fly in space.