My Last View of the US for the Next Eight Months
Well here I sit in the airport in Houston getting ready to start my journey to space.
First I will fly to Frankfurt for the rest of the week to finish my last training at the European Astronaut Center. I will have refresher training on the Columbus Laboratory, the Automated Transfer Vehicle and training on some of the European Space Agency experiments that we will conduct on board the ISS during our mission.
On Saturday, Dan Burbank and I will fly to Moscow to finish the last Soyuz and Russian Segment Space Station training in Star City. The Complex Examinations before the State Commission that we must pass before we head down to Kazakhstan for the final launch preparations will be the culmination of training in Star City.
Alexander Samokutyayev and Andrey Borisenko and I are presently scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft at 7:42pm CT on March 29th (00:42 GMT on March 30th, 4:42am Moscow time on March 30th, and 6:42am Baikonur time on March 30th which is 52 minutes before sunrise in Baikonur). This is less than 2 weeks prior to the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight.
We will launch from the same launch pad where Yuri Gagarin began his historic flight that marked the beginning of the space age. What a great honor that will be!
As I prepared to leave for final launch preparations, I experienced an interesting phenomena. Realizing that leaving Houston starts me on a journey that will take me off the planet for 6 months, I started to take note of things that I will not experience for half a year. Whether it’s a flock of birds against the sunset or early morning mist on the water of Clear Lake, or a million other things that define the beauty of life on our planet, I experienced a profound appreciation for the gift of the beauty of our world. I will miss a great many experiences that I normally take for granted, but I also look forward to the new experiences that define the beauty of life off the planet.
Please stay tuned as we improve FragileOasis.org and make it an even better tool for those of us living off the planet to share our experiences with those living on the planet.