Christer Fuglesang’s newsletter - Houston, 31 October 2006

Fuglesang in Space Shuttle simulator
Me fastened into the Space Shuttle simulator

Happy Halloween to you!

I thought that I’d give you an idea of how my days look in detail by listing what I have done during the last week (aside from working through the eternal flood of e-mails that surely everyone has).

Monday 23 October:

Telephone interview for the Karolinska Technical Highschool (KTH) staff magazine in the morning. After that a chat with the ESA people in Paris about VIP and other matters concerning the launch. Go through the paperwork from previous practice sessions prior to the next day’s training exercise.

To the gym after lunch: 10 minutes cycling, followed by a little over half an hour of weight-training. A shorter session than normal, but there isn’t really time for more.

Drive to the pool building (NBL – Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory), which is about a 15 minute drive from the JSC itself. There we go through things prior to this week’s and next week’s sessions in the water. Afterwards a short interview with a HDTV team who are working with NASA and who observed the lesson.

Centrifuge JSC
The centrifuge at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston

Tuesday 24 October (United Nations day):

Telephone interview with the Swedish magazine “Allers”, followed by data collection for a medical experiment. The experiment tests how the sense of balance is affected by weightlessness and how sensitive it can be to disturbances afterwards. I stand in a booth, where both the footplate and walls can move and they measure how much I sway. Then I get spun in the centrifuge for 10 min – a slight feeling of nausea, but not too bad – and then the balance test again. No big difference, but there isn’t expected to be now before the flight. When I repeat the entire exercise a couple of days after landing, then it might be a completely different matter!

A lesson in assembling the TV and photographic cameras follows in one of the Space Shuttle simulators. It is only Nick and I that take part. Then a lesson for Beamer and me in how we connect and disconnect tubes and valves used for transferring oxygen and nitrogen from the Space Shuttle to the ISS. This isn’t done during all of the flights, but we will do it during ours.

In the evening I did a webcam interview with Swedish TV4.

Wednesday 25 October:

Beamer and Sunni carry out EVA3 in the pool. I observe the entire exercise from the control room and take part in the summary briefing afterwards. Next Wednesday Beamer and I will carry out the same exercise – in case there are any changes to the original plans during the actual flight.

I have time for an interview with an Italian physicist I know who is at the University of Rome and wants to write something for their scientific website to encourage youngsters to study natural sciences.

Thursday 26 October:

A whole day simulation with the entire crew in the Space Shuttle simulator and the control team in the control hall. The simulation is the day of undocking, with the flight circuit around the ISS followed by the deployment of two of the US Department of Defence mini-satellites. Half an hour of fitness exercises at home in the evening.

Inside Space Shuttle simulator
Sunni, Joanie and I strapped into launch positions in the Shuttle simulator

Friday 27 October:

The whole morning we had an interesting exercise where we got into our orange spacesuits and got strapped into our seats, as we will be during the launch. The exciting bit was that the Space Shuttle simulator was turned so that it pointed upwards, as it really will be for the launch. It is weird how difficult it is to get your bearings after such a simple alteration.

When we eventually were in place, we went through the entire protocol for the communications test. We check that we can all talk to both the launch control at KSC and the flight control in Houston, as well as the ground control outside the launch platform; and of course that we in the crew can talk to each other.

After that we practiced evacuation. That involved getting yourself out of the seat, disconnecting the parachute, the cooling pipes, oxygen tubes and communication cable. In addition, I have to open the hatch and, if necessary, help Joanie and Sunni out of their seats and out of the Space Shuttle.

During lunch I had a couple of quick meetings, amongst other things to discuss equipment I myself hope to take up with me.

Next we had a repeat exercise in the emergency evacuation of the ISS and the emergency shutting of the hatches between the spaceships.

After that there was a meeting with NASA’s PR-team and some of the members of the flight command for a briefing on all of the PR-events during the trip, especially in relation to the TV-transmissions.

The week ended with a session in the gym again - wonderful!

Best wishes,

Christer

PS: Today NASA officially announced that they would carry out a fourth and last flight to the Hubble Space Telescope: probably during the Autumn of 2008.

Last update: 27 November 2006

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