On the Road Again
Okay, here I sit in the Houston airport in what has become an all too familiar part of Space Station training (life on the road). This trip should be very interesting. I’ll first spend 2 weeks in Cologne Germany at the European Astronaut Center (EAC) where I will train on the systems and scientific experiments of the European Laboratory on the ISS known as “Columbus”. From Germany, I’ll fly to Russia for 5 weeks of training and final exams. At the end of this period, my Expedition-25 back-up crew mates and I will face the Certification Boards of the Russian Space Agency to determine if we’re fully certified to fly on the Soyuz spacecraft and operate the Russian segment of the Space Station. This part of the trip will also include a great deal of tradition including visiting the tomb of Yuri Gagarin in Red Square prior to our departure from Moscow. The Expedition-25 back-up crew: Sergei Volkov, Oleg Kononenko and myself will then travel down to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (if everything goes well with the exams) with the prime crew for the Expedition 25 launch (Oleg Skripochka, Alexander Kaleri and Scott Kelly). We are there in case any issues or problems arise with the prime crew. No one wants to take anyone’s place on a spaceflight but it’s important to have back-up plans and procedures in place in order to react to unforeseen contingencies. I will do my best to document this experience as best I can (hopefully with some pictures and videos).
I also want to take a moment to thank everyone for their comments on this blog and especially for all the song suggestions. I really appreciate it! My plan is to send out the “Top 200 Songs in the World” playlist when it’s completed (it’s not too late to get suggestions in). I want to bring all the suggestions (that I can find) in my iTunes library but not all will make the top songs playlist (I’m pretty sure that “Macarena” by Alvin &
the Chipmunks is not going to make the playlist – sorry). Next blog entry will be from Germany.