MISSION UPDATES  Intro   Training   Prelaunch   Launch   In space   Landing  
Houston 1: US Medical Kit

Part of the very well stocked medical kit in the US segment of the space station. It is understood that in case of an emergency, I would have access to these. It is an extra plus that I’ll be flying with Mik . . .
Houston 2: US Control Room

The control room in Houston is dedicated to the space station, with controllers working in three shifts to support the work on the station and to look out for its safety by monitoring the systems and the space env . . .
Houston 3: In the American segment mock-up

My first working meeting with Genadi Padolka, who will be my commander in the mock-up of a newer part of the US segment. The mock-ups are part real hardware, and part life-size photos of the appropriate equipments . . .
Houston 4: Apollo control room

There is a similar historical site preserved in Houston: the Apollo control room. This is the station where the historic calls from the moon were received: the Apollo 8 Christmas message, Apollo 11’s “ . . .
Houston 5: Buran, the Soviet shuttle

A great thing about training is that we can visit the various historical sites and museums that are associated with the space facilities.

This is the cockpit of the Buran, the Soviet copy of the space shuttle, . . .

Houston 6: Space Shuttle Simulator

We got to play with the simulator of the space shuttle in Houston. Here is the cockpit for comparison with the Buran. It is much more advanced, of course, partly because the shuttles got an avionics update. Yet th . . .
Star City 1: Snow covering campus

Two years ago when the weather was mild I rode the bike to classes. This time we have a very nice winter with fresh snow covering the campus. Seen here is the building with the centrifuges and to the left is the m . . .
Star City 2: Inside the locker room

I'm moving up in the world. In the locker room the top spot forever belongs to Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. This time my locker is only five doors to the left of his locker. I am very pleased with this . . .
Star City 3: Cosmonaut's gym

The gym is like any other gym except you frequently run into cosmonauts.
Star City 4: Canteen

In the canteen the daily food allotments for pilots is posted. The numbers are in grams and 1 pound is about 450 grams. For example sour cream: 30 grams is about one ounce. This is important because borsch, cabbag . . .
Star City 5: Russian Lessons

My Russian lessons are so much more cheerful than last time. The rooms are now heated and renovated and I have a great little laptop that runs for 6 hours. My private list of Russian words and related information, . . .
Star City 6: Arrival for medical checks

As I arrive for the medical checks, there is the traditional celebration of the returning crew: Richard Garriott (3rd from the left) was the Spaceflight Participant on the last flight, a 2nd generation astronaut ( . . .
Star City 7: Reunited with Crew

One nice thing about celebrations is that old crews can reunite: here I am with Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhen. Whenever there is such a photo-op, we always line up like in the spacecraft, Oleg in the middle sea . . .
Star City 8: Fyodor Yurchikhen's photos from space

An exhibition of beautiful photos of the earth taken from the space station by Fyodor Yurchikhen.
Star City 9: The Institute of Bio-Medical Problems

The Institute of Bio-Medical Problems is one of those mysterious organizations in the Russian Space establishment charged with research into the medical aspects of space flight including the selection of cosmonaut . . .
Star City 10: Checking for brainwaves

They are setting me up for electroencephalogram - checking the brainwaves. Most of the medical checks are painless, but not all.
Star City 11: Color images of my retina

This is a nice device that takes beautiful color images of my retina.
Energia Museum 1: Vostok and Krikalev

I really enjoyed my visit to the Museum of Energiya, the company that has built most of the rockets and spacecraft. My host was Sergei Krikalev, legendary cosmonaut who has spent more than two years total in space . . .
Energia Museum 2: Sergei Korolev's office

This is the office of the now famous Chief Designer of rockets and spacecraft Sergei Korolev who passed away in the late sixties when his name was still a state secret.  Notice the then obligatory picture of . . .
Energia Museum 3: Sputnik 2

This is an engineering mockup of the second Sputnik that carried the space dog “Laika” on her one-way trip in November, 1957. Sergei explained to me how after the launch of the first Sputnik, everyone . . .
Energia Museum 4: Center of attention

What a surprise: in the center of the Energiya museum, there is this large tableau with the pictures of Gagarin and Korolev, the greats, on the left and then a “typical” modern Soyuz crew: yours truly, . . .
Crewmates 1: Mike Fincke - Returning crewmate

Baikonur, Nov 08. This is Mike Fincke, NASA astronaut on the bus on his way to be launched on a Soyuz. Mike is now on the ISS – he is in fact its commander – and he has been kind enough to exchange ema . . .
Crewmates 2: Gennady Padalka - Soyuz commander

My commander on the flight up will be Gennady Padalka. I feel very privileged to fly with him: this is going to be his third flight and he is considered to be one of the most skilled Soyuz commanders.
Crewmates 3: Mike Barratt - Soyuz crewmate

This is Mike Barratt who will be the flight engineer on the flight up. I am visiting him in the American Cottage at Star City. Mike is an MD who literally wrote the book on space medicine. Of course it is always g . . .
Centrifuge 1: This is the smaller one!

This is the “small” centrifuge, it can generate just as much force as the bigger one that has 18m (54ft) arm. Check out the door to the right for scale.
Centrifuge 2: Ready

All wired with the medical belt, wearing my own flight suit with the astronauts’ wings I’ve got from a dear test-pilot friend, ready for the G’s. Note that we are not wearing “G-suits&rdquo . . .
Centrifuge 3: In action

The big arm starts to turn and the capsule swings into place so that the forces push me back into the seat, just like in a rocket and unlike in an airplane where the forces would push me down.
Centrifuge 4: 8 G's

Here I am doing 8 G’s breathing with the diaphragm, not with my chest. If I let my chest collapse under the pressure, it will be difficult to extend it again. I always expected my face to be distorted, but i . . .
Centrifuge 5: Fine afterwards

I look fine afterwards although I tend to walk sideways a bit. Another test passed.
Seat Molding 1: Casting room

Every spaceflight starts here: the plaster cast of my body for the seat liner that will protect me during the return and the “soft” landing.
Seat Molding 2: Old friends

The place is full of old friends. It is good to be back. I am clothed in the white underwear for the body cast.
Seat Molding 3: 2006 vs 2009

Here is my data sheet from 2006 and the new measurements. I’ve lost weight and am in better shape. Hurray! There is something to be said for paper files, they remain compatible with new versions of pens and . . .
Seat Molding 4: This is not a sarcophagus

I try not to think of this as a sarcophagus.
Seat Molding 5: Warm plaster

Here comes the warm plaster. My knees are in the correct position for the spacecraft. It does not look comfortable and it really isn’t, but we are trained to wiggle the toes and the feet from time to time an . . .
Seat Molding 6: In a spacesuit

Now we adjust the plaster again wearing a test space suit. I now feel much at home in the Sokol suit and I can put it on and take it off with the expert help from my friends very quickly and without breaking a swe . . .
Seat Molding 7: Where is my head?

But where did my head go?
Seat Molding 8: Mirror, mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall...
Seat Molding 9: The Zvyezda team

Here is the team from the Zvyezda factory (also famous for their excellent ejection seats) creating for me my seat liner and the space suit. I am a little hunched over in the suit, in part because that is how it i . . .
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