Freddy Khan - April 29, 2002: Family Conference - Keeping things going
Its really exciting being based at the Mission Control Centre in Houston.(MCC-H). I am at the thick of the action, and hear the daily comings and goings of the crew, as and when we have communications links. I am based in the IMC, which is an offshoot of the MCC-H.
The launch was particularly riveting to watch, and pretty emotional as well, watching the South African flag flying so gaily and being the only South African at Mission Control in Houston.
The docking was awesome and I guess I got to see some footage that will not be televised over the commercial channels. I was very relieved to see Mark alive and kicking, and not suffering from any symptoms of motion sickness. I was also fortunate to watch his video session with President Thabo Mbeki. Mark, Dale and I have been allowed a daily PFC, Planned Family Conference by NASA, and this is a real asset, as we get to update with Mark on our modus operandi. Yesterday’s session was just with him and me, and today’s session included Ravi Naidoo and Dale Cupido.
These sessions are great, and today the four of us discussed current issues and resolved almost everything in a 20-minute session. It is an uncanny feeling to speak with colleagues a few thousand miles away, at a similar altitude to yourself, and another who is a few hundred miles above, and all of us speaking as though we having a conference call a few metres apart.
We are resolving daily operational issues like the workings of his Palm Pilot, the location of items on the ISS, supply of information and coordination of his communication sessions and email.
All in all, things are working exceptionally well!