Karen Sharwood - March 22, 2002: Last lap - After having enjoyed two whole days of spring, it would seem that winter has returned with a vengeance. Everything has gone back to being all white and pretty again. As a result, our early-morning outdoor runs (the running group now having dwindled down to one, i.e. me) have been shifted to running indoors on the treadmill again back at the Prophy. Not for lack of trying to run outside, of course, but the defrosting time post-run was getting a bit much for me. Mark has been undergoing medical tests all week, which I suppose does constitute some form of excuse for him not joining me. But tests end on Friday (heh, heh).
Professor Wayne Derman, another UCT Sports Science recruit (geez, may as well move our building across here too!) who will be Mark's flight doctor, arrived in Star City on Sunday night after a significant how-long-can-I-wait-at-the-airport-until-somone-comes-to-fetch-me experience. I guess it must be a traditional Russian initiation process or something, seeing as though it has now happened to every single one of us. Well, except for Dale, who is the one who organises our transport. Hmmmm, nice one, Dale. Anyway, Wayne will be here for about 10 days while Mark undergoes medical tests. Then he will go back to South Africa and return to Star City before the next set of medical tests closer to the launch.
The physiological testing for my part of the cardiovascular experiment begins on Friday and will continue up until two weeks before the launch. The trial run that we did with Yuri on Tuesday went really well, although the amount of equipment the poor guy had on him was enough to make the bionic man look a tad outdated. It was the same old story: "Yuri, are you ok, everything feeling alright?" The reply: "Ekevosky dasvand spacdibosky garasho." ErÖ ok, I take that as a yes. Not much choice here for Yuri, is there? Anyway, all set for Mark on Friday and looking forward to seeing how the data comes out.
As the day of the launch looms closer by the minute, our attitudes have taken on a whole new dimension. It hasnít been a conscious move, but we have become intensely focused on the most intricate details of the project that before were considered relatively arb, and have began to visualise and understand concepts that before seemed a little too close to real rocket science for our liking. Various members of the European Space Agency and NASA have been out in Russia the past couple of weeks. They have been unbelievable, going out of their way to help us wherever possible and answering some of our dumbest questions. Christine, especially, has given up her precious time to discuss logistical issues and has taken to discussing these issues while enjoying a "few quiet drinks" at Shep's Bar (these pics were censored)! We owe her big time...
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