Today I'm back again in the Zvezda ('Star') factory. This time my space suit or skafandr, as they used to say here in Russia, is being tested in vacuum in a so-called barochamber. For me this is a bit awkward. I have to stay in my chair for two hours without moving, while my suit is inflated.
There are several reasons for this test. First of all one wants to be sure that the space suit is totally OK, that all the minor changes that had to be done have been made correctly. It is also a kind of psychological training. I feel what it is like to sit in vacuum with my suit inflated. Next week my skafandr will be sent to Baikonur in preparation for my launch. Mid-October I'm going to Baikonur myself to put it on again and to go and see the Soyuz spacecraft, with which I will go into space.
Monday 16 September 2002: training
At the beginning of this week I'm training again, mostly simulation training together with my commander Sergei Zalyotin. I'm mostly rehearsing what things I have already done.
Friday 13 September 2002: press conference
Today I'm participating in a big press conference on which the crew is presented. My flight is getting nearer…
Thursday 12 September 2002: approved for flight
Together with the BDC I also had the last medical tests for the final big medical check-up before the flight. These tests have taken place over the last four days. As of today, I'm medically approved for my mission.
Today I have also done a chat session on the internet, on the ESA website. There were a lot of interesting questions. In my answers I explained about the 23 experiments that I will perform, the goals of my flight, the new Soyuz TMA spacecraft in which I will fly, life in space, my education and training and the Belgian participation in space programmes. I also tried to express my own feelings that space is a beautiful environment which we absolutely must explore. It is in human nature to explore and to try and learn more about the universe and ourselves [ You can read the transcript of Frank’s chat session - here ]
Monday 9 September 2002: medical tests
After my stay in the United States I'm back in Russia. Today I had a new BDC-session for the medical scientific programme here in Star City, just as I had some time ago in Belgium. During BDC or Baseline Data Collection (BDC) a number of measurements made before the flight in order for the scientists to draw up a kind of database with our medical data. These can later be compared with the results of the experiments I will be carrying out on board the Space Station.