Last weekend Sasha, Andrey and I received word that our return to Earth from the International Space Station would be delayed. It was possible that our scheduled September 8th landing would move to October 29th. The delay, regardless of length, was due to a failure during the launch of an unmanned Russian Progress cargo spaceship. Because the rocket that carries the Progress cargo ship to space is the same rocket that carries human crew on Soyuz spacecraft, the next Soyuz launch to the Space Station would be delayed until the cause of the failure was determined and resolved. Because of this situation, the three of us would need to stay onboard the ISS for a while longer.
When I heard the news of the delay, I knew that this would delay not only my homecoming and post-mission plans, but it would also upset the schedule of many people on our ground control teams all over the world. Many hard earned vacations would need to be canceled, and many additional hours of work would be required to re-plan activities. These “extra innings” of the Expedition 28 mission rapidly became known as “Expedition 28.1.”
I wanted to do something light-hearted to let everyone know that we are all in this together, so I enlisted Mike Fossum to help me make a video poking a little fun at the situation.
Since we made the video, we learned that the delay in our return to Earth may be shorter, and as of now it is possible for a landing as early as mid-September. We also learned that if we are not able to launch the next Space Station crew in time, there is a possibility we may have to leave the ISS unmanned. This would have serious implications, and we all hope that it does not come to that.
Despite the seriousness of the possibilities, and while we are all in this period of uncertainty, it doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun. With apologies to guitar players and music lovers everywhere, I hope you enjoy our little video (featuring, in order of appearance, the Expedition 28 crew of Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa, Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, Sergei Volkov and Ron Garan).