As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t been writing much this past month – my evenings have been just flying away, divided between the irresistible pull of the Cupola, other outreach projects and many little personal things that need to be taken care of.
During the day the Space Station keeps us really busy with science, maintenance, housekeeping, logistics and maintaining our proficiency in emergency responses, robotics, Soyuz flying…you name it. The variety of things we do up here is mind blowing, if I stop to think about it.
Oh, and by the way, we also had a Soyuz undock earlier this month, taking home half of our Space Station population. Well, at least in terms of human presence – I’m sure the microorganisms living up here, who outnumber us by orders of magnitude, would claim that it’s “their” Space Station and don’t care much if three biped mammals are replaced by three different ones. We, on the other, do care.
It was hard to see Sasha, Butch and Elena leave after being so close for four months and we did become just a little bit apprehensive when communication with their Soyuz was lost during the engine burn, which was somewhat unexpected. So we were happy to hear from Moscow that the search & rescue teams had made contact with the capsule and even happier to see our friends’ smiling faces as they got their first breaths of fresh air in Kazakhstan.
In case you’re wondering, we saw them on NASA TV, like many of you, I reckon. Not sure I mentioned before, but we can get a TV station transmitted live on one of our laptops when we have satellite coverage for the Ku-Band antennas.
For a couple of weeks the Space Station felt even bigger than usual, with Terry, Anton and I as the only (human) inhabitants. Not only were there fewer people around, but of course we were only getting half of the work done, so there was less com on space-to-ground. Overall, if felt a lot quieter. And now we’re back to six!
Scott, Gennady and Misha have joined us last week and have added their personalities to the mix to create the new dynamic of Expedition 43. It’s such an invaluable opportunity to be part of two different crews: in the end, it’s the human interactions that determine our experience up here, so in a way it’s like having two space missions instead of one. And if you have such awesome crewmates as I have had on Expedition 42 and have now on Expedition 43… well, life is good! Also, Terry and I have it really easy in terms of handover: Scott has already been up here for six months just 4 years ago, so he really doesn’t need the amount of guidance and coaching (and patience!) that we required at the beginning from Butch. Scott is basically already autonomous and has already given some inputs that have improved our life and work. Always good to add a new perspective to the equation!
So, here we are, it’s April 1st already and, barring changes, my Soyuz will undock on May 14th. With me onboard, unless I hide really well. I have only 42 days left on ISS, which is of course a cool number, but it’s also not much. If I sound a little sad saying this, it’s because I am.
Anyway, with so little time left I am committed to resume regular logbooks: there is so much still that I have to share with you! I thought I’d start by sharing some picture of life and work from the past four months: check out the captions for some insight. Talk to you soon!