MISSION UPDATES  Intro   Training   Prelaunch   Launch   In space   Landing  
Mission Patches 1: 2007 Personal Patch

The Background of the patch for my first mission combines the flags of the United States where I am citizen, Hungary, in the left corner, where I was born, and Russia, in the bottom corner; because my train . . .
Mission Patches 2: 2009 Personal Patch

The major difference between the missions is that I am now married. This is indicated by a fourth flag in the background, the Swedish flag for my wife, Lisa. The “Constellation of Pythagoras” is . . .
Mission Patches 3: Sculpture in Star City

One sign of the historical importance of Star City is the number of monumental sculptures and other pieces of art that are on the grounds. Think what you may of the Socialist-Realist state-sponsored art of . . .
Mission Patches 4: Mission Patch

Tradition also dictates that there should be a patch for the mission as a whole – in this case for the Soyuz TMA-14 flight to the Space Station. The Russian Space Agency Roskosmos, for the first time, i . . .
Mission Patches 5: Winner of the design competition

The mission patch design competition was won by Anna Chibiskova who is 12 years old and lives in Moscow. She is facing the cameras bravely surrounded by the crew and Vitaly Davidov, the deputy . . .
Space Station Training 1: Overview

From the gallery we can look down on the entire Russian segment, consisting of three parts: the cargo section (FGB) is on the left, the docking compartment (CO) is in the middle and the service module (SM) . . .
Space Station Training 2: FGB cargo module

Gennady is testing communications from the FGB. On the station the floor would be covered with tied down cargo about one to two feet deep except for a short section which serves as the area where we can cle . . .
Space Station Training 3: Service module

We are near the aft end of the service module – the main living and working area in the Russian Segment. The dining table is in front of Mike. I am working with the water regenerator-dispenser. T . . .
Space Station Training 4: Toilet

If we continue aft from the dining table, on the left we find the toilet. On the wall we see the control panel with all the status lights and switches. It reminds everyone of the famous and prescient sequence for . . .
Space Station Training 5: Piloting spacecraft

Real cosmonauts are real pilots. Here Gennady is manually docking a freighter spacecraft. Although the freighters can dock automatically, there is a manual backup mode that is practiced by the commander.&nb . . .
Space Station Training 6: Our taskmaster

Working in space is really like working on an assembly line – only more so, since the schedule controls you 24 hours a day. Our interface to the schedule is this software program OSTPV (I think the ac . . .
Final Exam 1: Choice of scenario

Our preparation has completed, time for the final exams for the combined crew: on a simulated day in the Space Station and the simulated flight on the Soyuz.

At the outset the commander declares our readiness . . .

Final Exam 2: Media

Final exams have been only twice a year so they still attract some media attention. Here we are answering the usual questions: “Why do you want to go to space?”, “Are you afraid?”, a . . .
Final Exam 3: Control room

Here the specialists are watching us and creating the problems that we need to solve. 
Final Exam 4: Working together

Standing in the service module Gennady looks through the tasks and gets us to work.
Final Exam 5: Maintenance

Many of the tasks for the permanent crew constitute preventive maintenance of the station where old parts are replaced with new ones before they can fail. This is not unlike some frame from “Star Trek&r . . .
Final Exam 6: Kitchen

One of my tasks was to prepare food for the crew. Here I placed three portions of canned food into the food warmer and I am preparing bread to be warmed up, too. This operation is quite a bit more complicated in s . . .
Final Exam 7: Drinks

While the cans are warmed, I rehydrated some delicious blueberry juice. In the interest of time, we had a break from the simulation for a normal lunch, where I served the juice in wine glasses after cooling it a l . . .
Final Exam 8: Ready for the Soyuz flight

We are all dressed, carrying our checklists, the green one for “Insertion into Orbit and Reentry” and the red one: “Off-nominal Situations”. There were many off-nominal situations in the si . . .
Final Exam 9: After the flight

I am pretty tired after the simulated flight, even though my job is the easiest by far. Fyodor Yurchikhen, whom I flew with two years ago, is there to support me.
Final Exam 10: Top grade received

As a crew we got the top grade “5”. There were two very minor comments of what we might do better, to my chagrin, I was involved in one. Gennady helped me opening a valve and there was some concer . . .
Soyuz Training 1: The Soyuz simulator

The return capsule with the control panel is on the bottom and the living compartment is on the top. The side door is only for easy access during simulation. For the flight, we enter first into the living compartm . . .
Soyuz Training 2: In the living compartment

Tim was the first trainer whom I worked with even before I decided on my first flight. Here we are again in the spacious living compartment reviewing the working of the primary toilet. I am sitting on the “d . . .
Soyuz Training 3: Our living compartment

What everybody wants to see: the backup urine collector in the living compartment of the Soyuz. This would be used if the fan or the fan control (both auto and manual) were all to fail. The big bulb is for pumping . . .
Soyuz Training 4: The landing capsule

I’m in the landing capsule in my own seat. The little empty niche to my right is the shelf for the flight data files – the checklists and the documentation. Further to the right is my window. In front . . .
Soyuz Training 5: Spacesuits ready

After the refreshers, it is time for a combined crew simulation in spacesuits. These are not the actual flight spacesuits but older suits that are used for training. But they must pass the leak checks so they are . . .
Soyuz Training 6: Getting into spacesuits

We are all in different stages of putting on our spacesuits. Gennady, in the middle, is just starting one leg at a time and Mike is doing the fancy twist to get his head through the neck ring. I am plugging in my . . .
Soyuz Training 7: In my seat

16-3, this is Altair 3, how do you hear me? A good shot of my seat. My seatbelts, which include the knee holders are all tightened and I am wearing my gloves. Once the pressure integrity of the gloves is checked, . . .
Soyuz Training 8: Control room

This is the simulation control room where the specialists sit around and invent new ways to torment the crew with failures. We had about five, more or less, serious failures simulated during each of insertion, ren . . .
Soyuz Training 9: In front of the simulator

In the interest of efficiency, we do not do all the work in a spacesuit. The goal is to learn the procedures, not to be constantly uncomfortable.
Soyuz Training 10: Debrief

After the simulation, we have a debriefing with the crew chief of 16-3. The crew did very well and there was no criticism; just a reinforcement of the details and options. The final exam simulation will be followe . . .
Soyuz Training 11: Control panel

I will write more about the spacecraft control panel. No snickering please, as the spacecraft itself does not run Windows, this simulator does. It requires more complex software that simulates not only the spacecr . . .
Soyuz Training 12: Docking Assembly

The probe of the docking assembly. Good old-fashioned mechanical engineering with a wonderful gear train that creates tremendous torque. The clamps visible in the head of the probe to the right make the first loos . . .
Soyuz Training 13: Previous generation Soyuz control panel

Before the last update, this is how the Soyuz control panel looked. The navigation computer in the upper right corner is a mechanical analog device where one sets the orbital parameters (as given by ground control . . .
Rotating Chair 1: The old chair

This is the infamous KUK chair (the Russian acronym is for Coriolis Acceleration Chair) at IBMP the Institute for Bio-Medical Problems. The wires and the alcohol are for attaching the ECG contacts and there is als . . .
Rotating Chair 2: A new one

This is a new one that I have not seen before. It does not have an armrest – I am glad I did not start training on this. But I am an expert now so they decided on 15 minutes.
Rotating Chair 3: 4 minutes gone

4 minutes are gone, only 11 to go. I feel OK.

 

Space Station Training 1: Like a submarine

The station looks a little like a submarine and has to be protected like a submarine with all kinds of internal hatches and valves. The hatches come into play if there is an air leak on the station. We are going t . . .
Space Station Training 2: Portable vacu-manometer

This is the portable vacu-manometer and it is completely mechanical. It is about 8 inches in diameter. It is essentially a well-made barometer. It is very important for finding the leaking section if there is a pr . . .
Space Station Training 3: Red light

This is the red light that we do not want to see. Fortunately, this is just a simulation. The next lights are the other two first-class emergencies: depressurization and toxic atmosphere.
Space Station Training 4: Smoke!

Once we determined where the system indicated fire, we opened the appropriate panel. Behind the panel is a sign: Smoke! from a previous simulation session.
Space Station Training 5: Cleaned up

They really cleaned up the facility which was in shambles two years ago. I particularly like the shiny blue ceiling.
Spacesuit 1: Seat liner

Here is my seat liner. It fits perfectly.
Spacesuit 2: Shiny and new

Everything is so shiny and new.
Spacesuit 3: Parade gloves

With the suit come the parade gloves for saluting the state commission in the “declaration of readiness” ceremony before the flight. There is a second set of gloves – a duller color - for the fli . . .
Spacesuit 4: Water survival suit

The water survival suit is also part of my individual survival equipment. If we make an unscheduled landing in inhospitable terrain, the legs of the suit can be cut off to serve as boots.
Spacesuit 5: Thermal protection

This is my full thermal protection. These five layers will protect me for two days anywhere between the 57 north and 57 south latitude.
The Official Photo

Wait, maybe we should not use this shot. Or just ignore the man behind the flag.
Experiments 1: Camera

Here is part of my experiment package in the flight container, all wrapped with foam and ziplocks. On the left, there’s the Nikon D3X without a lens. However, there are plenty of lenses on the station. On th . . .
Experiments 2: ESA

This will be one of the experiments that ESA asked me to do. CFS, which is colored fungi in space! A lot can be learned from observing this sturdy life form in the space environment. Although a lot of care is take . . .
Weightless Flight 1: Wide-bodied cargo plane

Our IL-76 wide-bodied cargo jet is ready for our weightless flight. The model number includes the letter “K” for “space related” to show that modifications have been made. This indicates th . . .
Weightless Flight 2: Nixie tubes

The navigator’s old fashioned computer with “nixie” tubes showing the orange digits. The “cash register” type numeric keyboard entry is the array of blue and white keys. I have good m . . .
Weightless Flight 3: Bombardier's point of view

Most large civilian aircraft from the Soviet-era - civilian airliners, or this IL-76 cargo model came with the bombardier’s station built in, so that in case it was needed, the plane could be quickly convert . . .
Weightless Flight 4: Feeling right at home

I have two weeks of weightless experience from my last spaceflight experience. I feel right at home in the 20 seconds of this precious earthly weightlessness. The instructor below me helped a lot by tossing me wit . . .
Weightless Flight 5: Putting on the spacesuit

Last time I could not finish putting on the space suit. This time it is no problem for me. Certainly having done it in space twice (once before docking and once before re-entry) helped me a lot.
Weightless Flight 6: Group photo

The traditional group photo with the instructors during the last parabola. Note that the instructors wear parachute harnesses all the time. I just took off my space suit, and have not had a chance to put my harnes . . .
Weightless Flight 7: Russian transport aircraft

Yet another important feature of Russian transport aircraft is the heavy duty gear for use on unimproved or damaged runways.
Barometric Chamber 1: Starting the run

I am starting the baro chamber run. There is a very short part of the flight just before touchdown when we are exposed to higher altitudes (about 15000 ft). For some reason a lot of emphasis is placed in being abl . . .
Barometric Chamber 2: Newly issued flight suit

This time all is well. Last time I wore the ratty bathrobe they have had there for many years. However, this time I came with my newly issued smart flight suit that makes me feel much better.
Barometric Chamber 3: 30,000 ft

This is another test to 30000 ft.
Barometric Chamber 4: Insider's view

The view from inside. This thing better work.
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