Lara Keytel - February 19, 2002: Lucky stars - Home away from home.
I have settled into the routine of Star City quite nicely, after our frenetic weekend of testing and collecting of 24-hour heart-rate data, and except for a couple more days of testing, the study is all but over. All the remains is one more early-morning resting metabolic rate test, one more day and night of 24-hour heart-rate collection and one more saliva sample collection.
Mark has really got it down to a fine art, and I am really confident about him being able to collect his own samples for the 10 days he will spend in space. We are also building all his logbook time into the schedule, so it will be official and part of his life onboard the ISS.
Space sick vs sputum samples
Something Iíve been conscious about - and the reason why I have adjusted my protocol for the study - is that this is really going to be a mind-blowing experience for Mark and I donít want him to feel like the time spent up on the ISS was spent chewing on dried dental swabs and filling in logbooks.
The protocol we finally decided on is really elegant and simple and, hopefully, leaves less to go wrong. Keep your fingers crossed. Of course, there is so much about space research that we are ignorant about. Things are also completely out of our control, like if Mark experiences motion sickness and is unable to even think about putting something in his mouth. I guess that is the nature of research, though, and I am by this stage really grateful for this wonderfully rich learning experience Iíve had the opportunity of experiencing while based at Star City.
I cannot commend the Russian organisations - all three of them - enough. Everyone has been really accommodating and patient with Karen and myself. Their knowledge and experience are awe-inspiring and they donít seem to mind going out of their way to help us out. I am really grateful to all of the people who we have had work with, as well as the other cosmonauts on the programme who we have had contact with.