Wednesday August 21, 2002: I am learning to take blood samples

26 August 2002

For the first time in my life I'm taking blood samples. A number of experiments that I will perform on board the International Space Station (ISS) involve blood testing. I'll have to take blood samples from my commander Sergei Zalyotin and he will do the same with me.

For this I first have to do a number of training sessions, after which I get a certificate. During a first session last week I practised on a model. Today I used a model to show that I have mastered the technique. After that it's the real thing with a number of test subjects, or ‘guinea pigs’, who are willing to 'lend' their arm. Everything goes well. Fortunately for them, I stick the needle in the right place straightaway!

Tuesday August 20, 2002: Evacuation exercises

Soyuz docked with ISS
A Russian Soyuz spaceship docked with ISS

At Star City (Zvyozdniy Gordok) near Moscow we are learning what we must do when for instance there's a fire on board the ISS or in case of depressurisation. Where do the crew members have to meet? Who has to do what? Who is responsible for what? In some scenarios we have to return with our Soyuz-spacecraft, in others we don’t. This training is an essential part of our preparations. In the past the Russians had a fire on board their former space station Mir. They have also had to cope with the collision of an unmanned Progress space cargo with Mir.

Air show Star City
Air show at the military airport of Star City

The main crew on board the ISS has specific tasks to perform when there is an emergency. We, as a visiting crew, have to assist them. We are also responsible for our own Soyuz-spaceship. If there is a leak in the Soyuz, it's up to us to investigate. When the leak is elsewhere on the Space Station, then we have work through certain procedures, depending on how long it takes before there is total depressurisation. After that we have to help the main crew. If we have let's say only three or four hours left, then we have little chance of finding the leak. In that case it's vital that the experiments or other items, which absolutely must be brought back to Earth, are taken to the Soyuz.

Sunday August 18, 2002: Air show in Star City

Air show Star City
Air show at the military airport of Star City

Of course my life here is being ruled by space, but sometimes I have time for something else. Today I went to an air show at the military airport of Star City, together with my Dutch colleague André Kuipers. There are demonstrations by the military aircraft of the Russian Air Force. The air show was very well attended, and André and I spent almost the whole day there.

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