Go For Launch! (L-18 hours)

We have completed all of the major activities leading up to launch.  The rocket is on the launch pad and ready to go.  Family and friends were able to attend the rollout which, of course, is a highlight of the Baikonur experience.

Today, the State Commission formally gave a report of readiness and go for launch.  A press conference followed immediately after that.  After a short break, the prime and backup crews watch the Russian movie classic, White Sun of the Desert, as is the tradition here the day before launch.

We are grateful for the work of many dedicated to the cause of human space exploration.  The teams within the international partnership located here in Baikonur, in Russia, the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada are responsible for the tremendous achievement that we call the International Space Station.  Our hats are off to them.  We are also grateful to our backup crew.  They and their families have sacrificed much to complete the training and obligations of a backup crew.  Alexander and Shannon are scheduled to launch next year and we look forward to seeing them on orbit at that time.

It’s early evening here now.  Launch day starts early.  We wake at 04:30AM, have breakfast, and soon after depart the crew quarters in a traditional way.  Our wives will join us in a small group for a final farewell. There will be the door signing, the blessing, and the walk out the building through the gauntlet of media along with our friends and coworkers who will line the sides of the walkway.  We will then board the buses and take the 45 minute drive to the Cosmodrome.  There we will suit up, conduct pressure checks of the suits, take the bus to the launch pad, ride the elevator to the top, ingress, and complete the countdown.

You can watch it all as well as the later flight activities on NASA TV on this schedule.