12 Sep / Abandon Ship, The ISS Is Burning!
The prototypes for my Soyuz TMA 13 patch arrived this week, just in time for our official crew photos! I am proud that I got the chance to participate in their creation, and they are now the official TMA 13 insignia.
Midweek, I had a long meeting at Energia, where we went through what is referred to as the PS-1 review. Here, we checked everything I plan to take to orbit (minus the PCG experiment and my “personal items” of less than 300 grams), unpacked and repacked every item, checked every serial number assigned to each piece, and measured and weighed each parcel.
Our action-packed crew sim at the beginning of the week (ten simulated failures!) was followed by another interesting one towards the end. In this case, we were each given separate tasks to complete aboard the ISS, mine being to fill a drink container with water, heat a food item, operate the toilet (which was partially disassembled), and use the HAM radio and VHF com panel. I completed all without problems, using the new cheat sheets that I will be taking aboard!
But a fire alarm sounded after we’d completed most of our tasks, simulating a fire outbreak in the ISS’s electrical systems. Accordingly, I took my post between the fire and my escape Soyuz, while Mike grabbed the simulated fire extinguisher to fight the fire. But since the simulated fire was unstoppable, we eventually had to abandon the ISS!
For this part of the training, we walked to the neighboring building to do a simulated urgent departure from the ISS. I also had to don a real gas mask before putting on my Sokol suit, after which I then had to enter the Soyuz and hook up to ventilation before removing the gas mask and sealing my Sokol—all in all a fairly complex, difficult, and HOT process.
In the descent portion of the sim, we experienced a variety of failures that made this another one of those “urgent descents,” landing us somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean … not where you want to be when rescue is some days away and supplies and comfort are at the bare minimum!
Over the weekend, my father Owen arrived with our partner Rob Rouleau. They will spend the week at Energia trying to resolve the PS-1 tests for the PCG experiment. The Energia engineers originally planned to come to the U.S., but they have not been able to secure visas.