Why This Blog

This entry was originally posted on June 13, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org

I appreciate that I have been given a special privilege. I realize how fortunate I am to be included in that very small group of people who have the opportunity to fly in space. Because of this, I also realize that I have a responsibility to share that experience, as best I can, with everyone who has not been given this opportunity. I began this blog simply to help others share in the wonderful experience of living and working in space.

In September of 2008, 3 months after returning from the STS-124 mission, I was assigned to International Space Station Expedition 27/28. Since that time I have been in full-time training in the US, Russia, Japan, Canada and Germany. Presently I am in week 3 of a 5-week training trip to Star City Russia. This trip has been special because for first time my family was able to come over and join me for a week. I took some leave and showed them around Moscow, St. Petersburg and Star City. It was really great to see them, spend time with them and help them get a better understanding of what’s involved with training over here. It was a really important trip because now everything will not be so new and different when they travel over for launch next March.

All of the assigned crews live in “cottages” that were built about 20 years ago to support NASA’s partnership with the Russian Space Agency. It’s a great experience to share meals and life with fellow crew members, instructors and members of the support teams.

There really is a great feeling of camaraderie. The training here does not come without sacrifice. Of course family separation is the biggest, but the training is packed into the available time which makes for some long days and late study nights. All the training is conducted in Russian but interpreters are provided for those who still need it (like me).

As I write this it’s Sunday night, but tomorrow is a day off due to “Russia Day.” I’ll close here for the night since we’re all going to get together tonight and watch a movie.

Ron Garan
13 June 2010

June 2010 Star City Training Trip Winding Down

This entry was originally posted on June 24, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org

Well my training trip to Star City is coming to an end and the last week has been very eventful. Starting with last Friday night, I attended a docking party hosted by Expedition 24 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin’s, wife Larisa. It was fun celebrating a successful launch and docking with all the cosmonauts, astronauts, families, managers, and trainers here at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) (I even slugged through a toast in Russian).

On Saturday, I received a special invitation by my fellow Expedition 27/28 crewmate (and Soyuz 26 Commander), Alexander (Sasha) Samokutayev to attend a party held in honor of fellow cosmonaut Roman Romanenko who recently received the Hero of the Russian Federation Award (Герой Российской Федерации) which is the highest honorary title that can be bestowed on a citizen by the Russian Federation. The party was also a reunion for Roman’s and Sasha’s military pilot training class. It was a very special time to be able to spend a beautiful afternoon with guys who share that special bond found among all pilots (and especially among military pilots). It was really surreal to be hanging out and enjoying a beautiful day with guys that for most of my professional military career I had prepared to fight. At one point in the evening, I made a toast and as best as I could, talked about how wonderful it is that former enemies are now working so closely together to overcome the common enemy of the unknowns of space for the benefit of all of humanity. During the evening, I also had the opportunity to meet Sasha’s wife, Oksana. I immediately knew after meeting her that she and my wife Carmel are going to get along wonderfully when they spend time together during our launch and landing (and hopefully before the mission during our training).

After arriving at the escape vehicle (Soyuz simulator facility) we get into spacesuits while wearing our gas masks

Sunday was spent preparing for the week’s many training events which included two Soyuz simulator training periods with my Expedition 25 crewmates, Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko. In one of the sims (on Monday) we started in the ISS simulator facility where we had to deal with the emergency situation of a fire onboard the space station. After donning real gas masks and an unsuccessfull attempt to put out the fire (complete with smoke in the mockup) we “abandoned” the space station by walking to another building here at GCTC (while still wearing our gas masks), got dressed in our Soyuz Sokol Space Suits, and climbed into the Soyuz simulator for an emergency descent and return to Earth. After training on Monday, I rushed back to the cottages (where we live while here in Star City), because we had a video conference scheduled with the ISS crew. It was fun to see and talk to Shannon Walker & Doug Wheelock (who just launched from Kazakhstan a few days earlier) and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson who has already been onboard a few months. It was great to hear their stories of the launch and rendezvous with the ISS, how life has been onboard, and to share a few laughs. What also made it very interesting is that in addition to fellow astronauts Don Pettit and Chris Hadfield, we were also joined by TJ Creamer and Soichi Noguchi who just landed a week before after spending 6 months onboard the ISS. They had to answer allot of questions about the location of various things onboard from the new “tenants”.

On Tuesday, Sergei, Oleg and I traveled to an Air Force base not far from Star City for ISS depressurization training. We practiced dealing with leaks in the space station in a full size mockup of the ISS’s Russian Service Module & Soyuz Spacecraft which is inside a giant vacuum chamber. Basically, once we’re sealed inside the mockup the pressure is dropped inside the vacuum chamber and leaks are introduced to various portions of the space station mockup that we were located in. It was very effective and realistic training to actually feel the leak (popping of your ears) and go through all the steps of isolating the leak by closing various hatches until you are on the side of the hatch that’s not leaking. Of course, the first step is to ensure that your escape vehicle (the Soyuz) is not the source of the leak.

In the spacesuit I’ll fly in @ the vacuum chamber at the Звезда facility outside Moscow

You can see me on the vacuum chamber TV.Everyone is keeping a close eye on my spacesuit pressure
On Wednesday, I headed to the Звезда facility in Moscow. It’s always great to head down there and meet the people who have been designing and building spacesuits since the first human spaceflight. On this trip, I climbed into the actual spacesuit that I’ll be wearing this coming March when I fly onboard the Soyuz to the ISS. After I was in the suit, I was led to a small vacuum chamber. In the middle of the chamber was the actual seat that I’ll fly in. I got strapped into the seat, the door was closed and then all the air was sucked out leaving me and my spacesuit in a vacuum. During the mission the spacesuit is only needed if there is a depressurization of the spacecraft but if that were to happen, I may have to remain in the space suit for about 2 hours before we can return to Earth. Because of this possibility, I remained in the chamber at vacuum for 2 hours so that I could evaluate the fit of the suit and technicians could evaluate the suit’s performance. @SnippetPhysTher asked me on Twitter what I thought about for those 2 hours. I don’t really remember what I thought about but I do remember what I tried to not think about. I tried not to think about the fact that the only thing separating me from instant death was a paper thin layer of material. If my visor cracked, a glove seal popped, or anywhere else on the suit failed it would not have been a good day. In reality, I never doubted the performance of my suit and it did great.

The highlight of Thursday was definitely attending the Expedition 23 crew return ceremony for Oleg Kotov, TJ Creamer and Soichi Noguchi. Representatives from the Russian, American and Japanese space agencies, as well as the crew had some very inspiring things to say to the Star City community. At the beginning and end of the ceremony the national anthems of all 3 countries were played which I think is a fitting tribute to the international cooperation that has become an integral part of space exploration. As I write this I am waiting to find out how a mix-up in my travel plans has been resolved. Apparently my return flight which was supposed to be booked for Saturday was booked for tomorrow (Friday). Since I have a full day of training tomorrow and there are no flights available this weekend, we’re in a little bit of a bind. I will either fly home tomorrow as booked or delay probably until Monday. Oh the joys of constantly being on the road!

Japan in July

This entry was originally posted on July 11, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org

Another successful training trip is over. Just returned from a quick week trip to Japan. Scott Kelly and I spent a week with the Japanese Space Agency in Tsukuba Japan (about 2 hours NE of Tokyo ) During the week we trained on the systems of the Japanese “Kibo” Laboratory (Kibo means Hope in Japanese),  the systems, rendezvous and robotic docking procedures of the Japanese cargo ship called the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)  and spent the majority of the time learning about the various scientific experiments we will be conducting onboard on behalf of the Japanese Space Agency.


Several  of the experiments involve Protein Crystallization Research. Protein crystals are grown in order to establish models that can be used to develop things like new medicines. On Earth these crystals are limited in their size and shape by the presence of gravity. These same experiments in space, in an environment of weightlessness, produce crystals that are much more useful for researchers. It is the hope that a direct result of this research will be the development of more effective medicines to combat illness on Earth.

Another experiment called Hydro-Tropi seeks to determine the effective of gravity and moisture on the growth  behavior of plant roots. Hopefully, this research will lead to designing crops that require less water. This is an area that is I am very interested in due to the severe lack of clean water in many parts of the world.

Spiral Top Light Traces

I consider Spiral Top an experiment where science and art meet.  “The spiral phenomena that exists in space (e.g. galaxies), on Earth (e.g. typhoons, growth of plants, etc.),  and in the human body (e.g. DNA) have a mysteriousness that charms many people. We assume that a new world of beauty will be created by modeling 3-dimensional luminous spiral movements that humans have never seen before…JAXA”http://iss.jaxa.jp/utiliz/pdf/epo_pamphlet_e.pdf

All in all it was a very productive trip. I’m back in Houston for a few weeks of training at JSC before heading out to Germany, Russia, then on to Kazakhstan for Scott Kelly’s launch for  Expedition 25 (I’m his backup).

That's One Small Step for Fragile Oasis…

This entry was originally posted on July 20, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org
July 20th, 1969 (One Small Step for Man…)

On July 20th 1969, at the age of 7, I attended my great-grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration in a banquet hall in Yonkers, NY. My great-grandparents emigrated from Russia to America many years earlier. Late in the evening (late for a 7-year old boy), all the guests gathered around a black and white TV and watched as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the 1st footprints on the Moon.

Watching that historic moment is one of my most vivid childhood memories. That night, that 7-year-old boy knew with certainty that he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. On July 20th, 2000, 31 years to the day after the historic Moon landing, that boy and 16 other members of the Astronaut Class of 2000 received phone calls from the Chief of the Astronaut Office, Charlie Precourt, informing them of their selection as NASA astronauts.

Since July 20th is such a significant day, I think it’s very fitting that the Fragile Oasis Team has chosen July 20th 2010 to launch the first step in what I believe will be a very informative, useful, and important interactive website. The Fragile Oasis website has these goals:

  • Get the word out that the International Space Station is an incredible global asset
  • Highlight the scientific advancements being accomplished on the International Space Station
  • Inspire students to academic excellence
  • Allow people to “experience” living and working in space vicariously through crew members currently living on the International Space Station
  • Use the unique orbital perspective to inspire people to improve life on our planet

This blog is just the first step. Presently I am using it to document and share my “Road to the Launch Pad,” and after launching to the International Space Station, I will use it to document and share the experience of living and working in Space. What will set Fragile Oasis apart from other “Space” websites is its focus on life on Earth, including interactive 3D mapping that highlights “Crew Members*”, “Crew Member Teams” and Student Teams who are working to make life better on our planet through humanitarian projects or scientific research.   * A Crew Member is our name for members of the Fragile Oasis community

I look forward to watching the Fragile Oasis vision take shape over the next few months and I am also looking forward to using the website to interact with everyone during my mission on board the International Space Station. Please stay tuned….

Please join with people all over the planet who look for opportunities to better their community and world, and as a result, make life better for those with whom they share this fragile oasis.


This entry was originally posted on July 25, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org


One of the main objectives of this blog is to highlight the scientific research being conducted on board the International Space Station. Specifically, I like to highlight how the research can improve life on Earth. This past week, I had quite a bit of training on some of the experiments I will be participating in while I’m on board the ISS. I will try to explain all of them in a series of blog posts (One even involves burning water – Did you know you could burn water?)

The first experiment that I want to describe is an ISS experiment called InSPACE-3 or Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions-3 (that’s a mouthful so from now on let’s just call it InSpace-3).  This experiment investigates a new class of “smart materials” referred to as MR fluids.  These normally stable fluids undergo a dynamic transition to a solid within milliseconds after applying an external magnetic field.  Chain-like microstructures formed by the particles in these fluids give them this unique property.

MR fluids have been incorporated in actively-damped shock absorbers in automotive suspension systems to improve the safety and performance of their vehicles by providing the ability to change a car’s suspension system in response to changing road conditions.  The Dongting Lake bridge in China actually utilizes MR fluids in its cable dampers to counteract gusts of wind.  Engineers are also exploring the potential use of MR fluids in seismic dampers to protect buildings during violent earthquakes.  The results of the InSPACE-3 experiment should lead to a vastly improved understanding of the mechanical behavior of these amazing fluids.

For more information on InSPACE-3, click: http://ow.ly/2g9p5

Improving the Planet's Ability to feed all Inhabitants

This entry was originally posted on July 27, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org

Part II of how scientific research being conducted on board the International Space Station can improve life on Earth.

Another great experiment that we will participate in while on board the International Space Station is the ISS Agricultural Camera (ISSAC) experiment.

ISSAC is a multi-spectral camera that will be installed in a special dark “closet” that is attached to the Earth-facing window of the US lab. This “closet” is called the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF).  ISSAC will take frequent images, in visible and infrared light, of vegetated areas on the Earth, principally of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. Images will be delivered within 2 days directly to requesting farmers, ranchers, foresters, natural resource managers and tribal officials to support land management and precision agriculture. The rapid responsiveness of ISSAC imagery may also aid in disaster management applications such as flood monitoring and wildland fire mapping. Images will also be shared with educators for classroom use.
ISSAC was built and will be operated primarily by students and faculty at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND. Farmers will be able to delineate management zones as the crop vegetation changes during the growing season; this can result in more effective use of fertilizer and other chemical inputs and reduce negative environmental effects. This obviously has great potential to be used anywhere in the world that would benefit from improved crop yields.  Great research to help feed the world’s population! For more information see: 

JAXA Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki inside the WORF during STS-131

Close up image of the Window Observation Research Facility (WORF) Flight rack at Kennedy Space Center

The 200 Best Songs in the World

This entry was originally posted on August 1, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org

I am presently building an iTunes playlist to take with me for my 6-month tour on board the International Space Station.  I’m calling the playlist “The Best 200 Songs in the World”. Presently I have 68 (listed below in alphabetical order).  I would really appreciate your suggestions and I’m open to suggestions from any genre.  Please just add your suggestions in the comment section of this post.

This is actually an important pre-flight task. The environment on board the space station is very sterile and the only sounds you hear are that of pumps and fans. It is very important to be able to listen to music while living and working onboard.  You definitely have a feeling of isolation while you’re off the planet and listening to music allows you to have a real connection with your home. On STS-124 it was a wonderful experience to be able to look down at the beautiful Earth while listening to great music. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Against the Wind, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
  • Alison, Elvis Costello
  • All Because of You, U2
  • Baby, I Love Your Way, Peter Frampton
  • Bad Company, Bad Company
  • Beast of Burden, Rolling Stones
  • Black Dog, Led Zeppelin
  • Black Magic Woman, Santana
  • Black Bird, Beatles
  • Blowin’ In The Wind, Bob Dylan
  • Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
  • Boom Boom, Johnny Lee Hooker
  • Break On Through, Doors
  • Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits
  • Burning Down the House, Talking Heads
  • Carnival, Natalie Merchant
  • The Chain, Fleetwood Mac
  • Changes, David Bowie
  • Do it Again, Steely Dan
  • Do You Feel Like We Do, Peter Frampton
  • Europa, Santana
  • Fantasy, Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Feeling Alright, Joe Cocker
  • Fire & Rain, James Taylor
  • Fly Like an Eagle, Steve Miller
  • Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Georgia On My Mind, Ray Charles
  • Hotel California, Eagles
  • I Will Remember You, Sarah McLachlan
  • Imagine, John Lennon
  • Jealousy, Natalie Merchant
  • Jesus is Alright, Doobie Brothers
  • Kashmir, Led Zeppelin
  • Landslide, Fleetwood Mac
  • Let it Be, Beatles
  • Let’s Stay Together, Al Green
  • Like a Rock, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
  • Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
  • Long Train Runnin’, Doobie Brothers
  • Maggie May, Rod Stewart
  • Moby Dick, Led Zeppelin
  • Moment of Surrender, U2
  • Money, Beatles
  • One, U2
  • One Last Breath, Creed
  • Paradise, Sade
  • Pride (In The Name of Love), U2
  • Pride & Joy, Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
  • Ramble On, Led Zeppelin
  • Ready for Love, Bad Company
  • Rebel Rebel, David Bowie
  • Reeling in the Years, Steely Dan
  • Respect, Aretha Franklin
  • Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac
  • Roadhouse Blues, Doors
  • Roxanne, Police
  • Smooth, Santana
  • Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
  • Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen
  • Under Pressure, David Bowie & Queen
  • We Are the Champions, Queen
  • What a Wonderful World, Louie Armstrong
  • Wild Horses, Rolling Stones
  • Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
  • Wonderful Tonight, Eric Clapton
  • Wonderful World, Sam Cooke
  • You’ve Got a Friend, James Taylor

The 3rd Rock from the Sun is a Fragile Oasis

This entry was originally posted on August 19, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org

I want to devote this post to explaining the part of Fragile Oasis called “3rd Rock.”

The focus of the “3rd Rock” will not be on the problems of the world, but on how the problems of the world are being solved by amazing people. The 3rd Rock page will be dedicated to improving life on our planet, and highlighting those people and organizations making a difference.

It is very difficult to look at our beautiful Earth from space without being moved in some way. My own experience is described on the “3rd Rock” page:

Light from One of 16 Daily Sunrises strikes Solar Arrays as seen from the windows of the Japanese “Kibo” (Hope) Laboratory shortly after it was installed to the International Space Station on STS-124

“It was a very moving experience to see the absolute beauty of the planet we have been given. But as I looked down at this indescribably beautiful, fragile oasis — this island that has been given to us, and has protected all life from the harshness of space — I couldn’t help but think of the inequity that exists. I couldn’t help but think of the people who don’t have clean water to drink, enough food to eat, social injustice, conflicts, and poverty. It was an amazingly stark contrast between the beauty of our planet and the unfortunate realities of life for many of its inhabitants.”

You may wonder why a “Space” website would devote a section to highlighting solutions to some of the problems facing the world. For me personally, it’s because those who fly in space have been given the unique perspective of living and working off the planet while still being close enough to our planet to see its beauty, vulnerability and to appreciate what an incredible gift it is. Just as this unique perspective continues to inspire those who experience it, the goal of the “3rd Rock” page is to share that unique orbital perspective, and hopefully to share the inspiration to protect our Fragile Oasis and its inhabitants.

Fortunately, we live in a world where many problems faced by previous generations have been solved. Yet, vast numbers of people still do not benefit from those solutions.

Children are the most vulnerable people on our planet. Adults have a responsibility to them not only because they rely on us, but because they are our future. Let’s take a moment to look at some sobering facts about the children of our world:

  • Despite the fact that diseases like malaria and tuberculosis are preventable and curable, The World Health Organization estimates that in 2006 there were over 1 million deaths as a result of malaria. In 2005, 1.6 million people died from tuberculosis worldwide. In both cases, most of these were children.
  • Despite our capacity to provide clean water to every person on this planet, 29,000 children die every day from problems associated with drinking contaminated water
  • Despite resources to feed every person on this planet, 16,000 children die daily from hunger-related causes
  • 22 million infants are not protected from disease by routine immunizations
  • 2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV

These are not just numbers on a chart. These are children. These facts represent just a fraction of the immense problems facing our planet. When faced with such insurmountable challenges, one can become overwhelmed and frustrated and be left feeling that the problems are too big for them to really make an impact. They ask themselves, What could I possibly do? Is it worth my effort to even try?

Even those people who have made a commitment to improve the world eventually face periods of frustration. However, it is precisely those people who commit to making a positive change, and it is precisely at those moments when they feel discouraged, or when they don’t think they’ll be successful — people who persevere through those obstacles and step outside of their comfort zone are the ones who achieve success in reaching their goals and dreams, and who affect real change in the world. I for one, do not want to look back in the twilight of my life and ask “What would have happened if I really gave it a try, if I really put everything I had into trying to make life better on our planet?”

The first step to affect change is to believe that real change is possible. Here are some things that I believe are true:

  • That it is possible to live in a world without poverty
  • That it is possible to live in a world where no one dies from preventable and curable diseases
  • That it is possible to live in a world where everyone has access to clean water and no one goes to sleep hungry
  • That it is possible to live in a world that educates all its children
  • That we do live in a world where the possibilities are endless, and where we are limited only by our imagination and our will

Peaceful Sleep in Rwanda

We are challenged to make the part of the world we come in contact with a little better; simply because it came in contact with us.  The goal of “3rd Rock” is to encourage people to look for opportunities to better their communities and the world, and to inspire people to go out and make a difference.

Above all, the vision of “3rd Rock” is to encourage everyone, in all that they do, to look for opportunities to make life better for those with whom they share this Fragile Oasis.

Please stay tuned as this part of the website takes shape. As always we are open to your suggestions.

Training & Tribute: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russia

This entry was originally posted on September 12, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org

Expedition 25 Backup Crew (from L-R: Ron Garan Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko) (Photo courtesy of the Russian Space Agency)

Well, the second week of training in Star City has ended and it has been a busy week. The prime and backup crews of Expedition 25 have completed all the required pre-launch training in both the Soyuz spacecraft and the Russian Segment of the International Space Station.  Last week we had meetings at Mission Control, just outside of Moscow, with Soyuz and Space Station specialists. We were briefed on the status of the Space Station, the scheduled flight plan, and some of the experiments that will be conducted on board.

Training with the Russian tool kit (Photo courtesy of S.P.Korolev RSC Energia)



Scott Kelly and I also traveled to the Rocket & Space Corporation (RSC) Energia in the Korolev area of Moscow.  There we received training on the actual equipment that comprises the Russian docking systems and hatches. I was also trained on the video and photo equipment located in the Russian segment of the Space Station as well as the Russian tool kit. More pictures from our trip to Energia can be found at this link.

Next week we will face the “Commission” in our final exams to determine our readiness for flight.  We will have a day-long exam in the Soyuz simulator followed the next day by a day-long exam in the Space Station simulator.  Later in the week, we will travel down to Moscow to go before the Commission, conduct media interviews and visit Red Square to lay flowers on the tomb of Yuri Gagarin. It should be an interesting week to say the least.

On the tilt table with the “Braslet” devices

Besides all the preparation and training last week I also was fitted for a devise called “Braslet”.  Braslet was designed by the Russians to counteract the effects of fluid shift on orbit. As soon as the rocket engines shutdown and we arrive in a weightless environment, all the fluid in our bodies that is normally “weighed down” on Earth begins to migrate from our lower extremities to our upper body and head. Braslet is an ingeniously simply device designed to compress the upper thigh to slow the venous return of blood from the legs to the heart.  Basically, I was wired up with all kinds of sensors and placed on a tilt table. Braslet devises which are really nothing more than tourniquets, were placed on my upper thigh and tightened.  I was tilted head down for awhile and felt a marked decrease in pressure in my head when compared to the heads down position without the Braslets. After remaining in this position for awhile, the Braslets were abruptly released which allowed the blood to rush to my head which felt very much like the sensation right as the rocket engines shutdown.

After the “Braslet” evaluation (photo taken by the late Dr. Greg Shashkan)

There is a collaborative research project with the Russian Space Agency and NASA to quantify the effects of the devise using on board ultrasound imaging.  Besides the obvious benefit to future space flight, the study of the physiological responses to altered fluid distribution may lead to increased insight into the diagnosis and treatment of terrestrial conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Gregory Giancarlo Shaskan ~ January 14, 1966 – September 02, 2010

I want to end this post with a tribute.  We ended our week with a memorial for our NASA Star City Flight Surgeon, Greg Shaskan, who died suddenly and unexpectedly the week before last.  The memorial was attended by the American and Russian members of the NASA Star City Office and all the astronauts currently training in Star City.  Gathering with our colleagues to celebrate the life of a great and caring man was very moving. Greg was not only a selfless member of our nation’s space program, who endured long family separations from his wife an infant daughter to care for astronauts training for spaceflight, he also was making a big positive impact on our world. He was a member of Doctors Without Borders and traveled to places like Sri Lanka after the tsunami to provide medical care to those affected.   Greg was not satisfied with the status quo on our planet. He was determined to make life better for those with whom he shared this fragile oasis. My thoughts and prayers are with Greg and his family during this difficult time.

Star City: June 2010 Let the Sims Begin!

This entry was originally posted on June 16, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on www.FragileOasis.org


I started training this week with my Expedition 25/26 backup crewmembers Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko (2 Russian Cosmonauts that I spent time with on the ISS during STS-124 – Together we are the back-up crew for the Soyuz that will launch this October).

June 2010: Walking to the first suited simulator training session as the backup crew for Expedition 25 with Sergei Volkov and Oleg Konoenko

Tomorrow is the 2nd of 3 Soyuz simulator training sessions. Today we practiced rendezvous and docking with the Space Station and also an emergency re-entry to Earth. Tomorrow we will climb into the Soyuz simulator in our full Sokol spacesuits and practice all the pre-launch and launch procedures. I’m sure the training team will also input allot of malfunctions for us to deal with.  I’m ½ through my 3rd of 5 weeks of training this trip to Star City. It has been a very busy trip this time but I’m coming up to speed fast on all the Soyuz systems and the Russian Segment of the ISS.  When I return home to Houston in a week and a half I’ll have a week there before heading out to Japan for more ISS training.