Lara Keytel - February 13, 2002: Sputum success - Early start. Well, only early if you watched the Olympics to all hours in the morning. I am really impressed with local Russian television, because although I do not understand anything past "yes, no, fine, good, hello, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good bye, one, two three, four, five, sixÖĒ (you get the picture), they are showing the Olympics 24 hours a day. I guess I wasn't really expecting that, and it is feeding my insomniac habits beautifully.
I had to tear myself away from a re-run of the male mogul finals to make my way over to the cosmonaut quarters in time to catch Mark as he sat down to breakfast. We have come up with a plan to record all Markís food intake quite accurately, and although I donít normally sit through each meal with my test subjects, Iím making an exception for him. Mark assures me that, were he to do it by himself, there would be nothing accurate about the recordings.
I am still not convinced. However, for the sake of science, I have resigned myself to the fact that for the next 10 days of saliva sampling I will sit through as many meals as I can with Mark. Today was an egg morning, and I was really impressed with Mark's culinary skills as he quickly whipped up a three-egg omlette in two minutes flat.
Samples to drool over
Today was more of an admin day than anything else, although we did have a meeting at the full-scale mock-up of the International Space Station. Karen and I went a little over the top, taking as many pictures as we could. It was well worth it. It was incredible just how small the living space is inside. Itís quite something to think that the average length of stay on the ISS is six months, if you can imagine living in a cylinder just short of the length of a cricket pitch, about 1.8m high and just over 3m wide. I wonder if cabin fever is ever a problem?
My next mission was to prepare the saliva samples that one of Mark's fellow cosmonauts had produced late last night. Each swab contained about three times the amount of saliva the first swabs contained; at last I have a good control subject for my project. Today's samples will definitely be good enough to send to Maastricht University for analysis. What a relief!
I think Karen, Mark and myself are going to lay low until Dale and Karl return from South Africa tomorrow night. Currently the South African contingent is only the three of us - not quite the motley crew that has been running around for the past couple of weeks.
I must just put in a little mention that Karen has taken over the roles of Karl and Dale while they are in South Africa trying to get their visas sorted out, and itís no longer Karen, but "Chief Karen". She has successfully managed to turn around most of the outstanding issues, taken control of all the administration problems and gotten the Russians to oblige to just about all our requests. Currently she is our chief negotiator and head honcho, and quite honestly the "glue" that is keeping us all together.
Tomorrow is going to be another exciting day. I am starting off by measuring Mark's RMR - lots of photo opportunities here. This will be followed by the obligatory saliva-sampling. The 10-day protocol I am currently following is going to be exactly the same as the protocol that Mark will follow for his space mission and part of the experiment, so in real time, that means yesterday would have been the launch day and Mark would have just docked at the ISS. Tomorrow would be the third day, and first space-saliva sample. This seems to make it all the more real, and after seeing the mockup of the ISS today, well it is just very exciting!