The work is winding up and already now we can see results of the Rakia project in the field. It seems the initial flurry of activity has subsided and now the time has come for the countdown to lift-off. We had already been at approximately T-45 days to liftoff when we were notified of a delay until 31 March.
This has given us extra time to improve our preparations in all areas, we have added two artists for our art mission and we have been given permission for two more science experiments. Maya and Maayan,of the Rakia educational staff, have arrived in Houston, they sat patiently with me over the entire weekend and guided me through the ins and outs of the educational program and the training we will be doing from the Station. We once again went over every fine detail, deep into the night - until they were finally satisfied. We rounded it up with sushi and a Shem Code card game.
Training in January focused on teamwork, especially at SpaceX: The complete simulations of the launch, the docking with the Station, the disengagement and return to Earth - were hectic and exhausting, also physically. Three to six hours, in full gear, about a hundred people involved including the NASA Mission Control in Houston, the various SpaceX controllers, the engineers and the medical teams. At the end of each such day, we sat down for a debriefing. Going over every point of interest and discussing possibilities for improvement.
We tried on our personal astronaut suits for the first time. The training is done in used suits, which are not intended for space flight. What started out with great excitement, went on to feeling the suit was two sizes too small for me, and ended in disappointment seeing that my name had been embroidered on in English. They promised to fix that and redo it in Hebrew.
The climax of the week was when I hosted the family and the Rakia team representatives Maya, Maayan and Melody at SpaceX. I was excited to tour with them all at the factory, we saw one of the Starlink satellites, and the new Dragon, which will be taking NASA’s Crew-4 to the Space Station in mid-April. In the astronaut training space, everybody got to sit in the Dragon simulator, to experience sitting in this incredibly cramped space and to get to know our brilliant trainers - Mike and Sarah,
From here in Houston we wish you all a fascinating Space Week and Ramon Conference,
66 days to liftoff (today, 24.1.22)
Yours as always, Eytan
Want to find out about the Starlink satellites and some other things worth remembering this Space Week? - read all about it in the next post. Stay tuned.