Fuglesang reports from quarantine
8 December 2006
A calm day. Soon after breakfast (about 13 o’clock, considering our sleeping pattern) most of the crew went to Beach House, where we could meet visitors. Only one visitor per person was allowed – at a time.
So our dear family support astronauts Ed and Tony shuttled to and fro, as Beamer and I, at least, wanted to see several relatives. I was visited by, in turn, my dad, my sister Agneta, Denise, Malin and Lisa.
Ed and Tony are here in Florida just to take care of the closest relatives. It is an old tradition for astronauts to do this. I have done it myself on two occasions in Russia, for my ESA colleagues André Kuipers and for Pedro Duque.
In the evening, Roman (Mark Polanski, ed. note) and BillyO tried to train some Shuttle landings with STA (Shuttle Training Aircraft), but it was too windy, so they soon packed it in.
Our waking day is now pushed earlier, as each additional day moves the launch window 23–24 minutes forward. Tonight (the night before Saturday here) I will go to sleep at 03:00 and sleep until 11:00.
"Mission Management Team", MMT, will meet at 09:45 and decide if it is worth the effort to start tanking the Shuttle again. If it is, we will start the day as we did on Thursday – otherwise we will have another day off.
The last forecast I viewed gave us a 70% risk of bad weather. We will see ... Does anyone remember the movie ”Groundhog Day”? :-)
7 December 2006
Not unexpectedly, the weather upset the launch plans tonight. Many viewers at the scene, as well as in Sweden, were clearly disappointed and thought it was a kind of anti-climax. If you, however, work in the space business, you know this is often how it is.
Of course we hoped for a launch when we entered the astrovan to the flashes of hundreds of cameras and when we later stepped out next to the smoking Discovery we felt very special indeed. We were almost alone at the launch pad!
Three hours before take-off time I was strapped to my seat on my back and then I only had to wait, except from a few tests of the radio communication now and then. I browsed through my notes to refresh my recollection of what would happen and was half asleep for long stretches of time.
Funnily, I never even felt butterflies in my stomach – maybe because I was dubious of our getting away all the time, because of the weather. When the break (“scrub” in NASA lingo) was called I had my own small task to perform: to secure the pyro-box, which can blow the entrance hatch away, with a securing pin.
Then it was another hour before we could leave the less comfortable seats. It felt good to have a massage after a very late dinner :-). Now we work towards a launch on Saturday evening (20.47 local time), but the weather forecast is not optimal for Saturday either.
It is possible that we don’t even try then, but that remains to be seen. Tomorrow (Friday), the crew in principle has the day off, although we maintain in quarantine, so except from a few of those closest to us who can come to Beach House, we are by ourselves.
6 December 2006
Early this morning, one o’clock local time, I eventually completed my private notebook. So now I am by definition ready. Ready for space! Earlier in the day we were able to be with our respective partners for a few hours and especially to show them around the launch tower. It was enormous fun for both them and us.
Later Nick and I were in the cockpit for an hour in order to check that all the cable connections to the TV, laptops etc. were in the correct positions. It was also an excellent opportunity to look around a little and become familiar with the unusual vertical orientation.
ESA had a big reception at Cocoa Beach, where all the launch guests were present, around 400 according to the information. I was able to telephone there and talk to the most distinguished guests (which of course included Lisa!).
The mood seemed very good. Everything technically is still "GO" for launching today and just recently the movable part covering Discovery itself was swung away. Now it is mostly up to the weather gods. The latest forecast gave only a 40% chance of launching, but we will most likely all jump into Discovery tomorrow anyway and then see how it goes.
5 December 2006
The preparations are going well, even if there was a current spike in one of Discovery’s main electrical cables when it was switched on. It means a number of extra checks and tests for the personnel, but it is not anticipated that it will mean any delay.
We had a teleconference with the Discovery team and, apart from the electrical spike, everything else is very good. The last report came in four hours ago and everything was still well.
The weather Gods, however, are threatening 40% risk for low cloud on Thursday. NASA’s Director Mike Griffin visited the crew quarters and sat and chatted with us for two hours; mostly just because it was enjoyable.
I went to the gym – maybe my last session – and I’ve NEARLY completed the Notebook. Otherwise can I possibly add any more, especially when I can read on the Internet that my dad and sisters have arrived in Cocoa Beach even before I knew about it myself!
4 December 2006
This "morning" (according to our sleeping schedule - early in the afternoon local time) BillyO and I took a little flight trip around KSC.
We stayed close to the area and the idea was mostly just to get out for a little while, try out the G-forces (we made a few loops of 3-4; we will not have more than 3 G on the Space Shuttle anyway) and a few seconds of weightlessness. We flew over Discovery and took a few pictures.
Sunday 3 December - Arrival at KSC
Midnight local time in Cape, Florida, and four hours to go until bedtime. We had a fantastic flight from Houston to Cape in the middle of the day.
At both Ellington and at the Space Shuttle landing runway at Cape there were local NASA "SWAT"-guys who made sure that no-one unauthorised came into contact with us.
During the approach to Cape we took a little extra circuit around Discovery out on the launch pad. It was a terrific feeling seeing her there, ready for the launch in a few days. There was a small contingent of journalists waiting when we left the T-38’s.
I told them that I hope we are not delayed. It would be a shame for all the hundreds of friends, acquaintances and others who have travelled all the way over the Atlantic here to Florida; and many of them are not able to stay for very long. For us in the crew it doesn’t really matter if we are delayed by a few days or a week.
The mood is very good and we hare having a lot of fun together.
Saturday 2 December - Getting adjusted
We are into the second day of the quarantine. It is a bit difficult to sleep until 10:45 in the morning, even if you don’t go to bed until three o’clock in the morning. There are however several nights left to adjust to it.
We have had various discussions within the crew about the best ways of how to deal with different things during the flight, amongst other things the computer network and the communications with ground control, and there will be more discussions to come.
Aurora Borealis If there is time during the flight we will try to photograph the Aurora Borealis, which is why we had an extra practice with the cameras. A number of the instructors have visited and we have just had a meeting with the Flight Directors. That was to discuss a few final things about the flight and existing problems and eventual last minute alterations.
For the most part things look good. Yes, the ISS has a few minor problems, but nothing that will stop us completely. The first is that the Russians have twice tried to use the Progress motors to get the ISS up into a better trajectory for us to dock with, but both times the attempts have been aborted. Now they think they understand why and a new "boosting" is planned for Monday.
Even if this fails we can still launch on the 7th; on the other hand it is not clear if we can also try on the 8th, or if we maybe have to wait until the 9th instead. The problem with the mechanism that rotates the solar panels is not fully understood, but the system is at any rate back to normal and it isn’t anything that will stop us from launching. The mood within the crew is good and we are filled with anticipation.
Last update: 9 December 2006