By Bonnie Pandya
I’m here! I arrived with no problems thanks to Suni’s overseeing my trip. Everything worked like clock-work. She came in after sim finals to check up on me and then went back to the party. The final class was quite difficult because the Russians who wrote the manuals were there to watch. Something didn’t work out as were stated in the manual so they were asked why. They responded by saying this is what the manual told us to do. They did it again and again the manual repeated what they had done the first time. So it was good for these people to see exactly how things went and can now change the manuals to the correct information for the procedure. They were all talking about this in Shep’s Bar last night. Swannie, whom I knew from the last launch, said not to worry, nothing was going to happen. This was just procedure to make sure to be aware of something happened in the soyuz like fire or some sort of failure.
Aki was there but Yuri went home because he lives on the other side of Moscow. Everyone loved being with Suni and they all said how she pulls everyone together. Scott Kelly was there and said he has know Suni since Test Pilot School. They all thought she would be a great Commander on the ISS. We all had fun and talked about various astronauts. They were glad to know we met us with Beamer when Suni was in Boston. Some of the staff wanted to stay in Moscow until Suni left for Baikonur to celebrate with her. It seems that all like her very much and have a lot of respect for all the things she does. Tom, a Canadian Astronaut, his wife and little girl Grace were there. His wife went to Wellesley College and loved being in the Boston area. She is from California. She is also a pediatrician. Tom is also a physician. Tom got into NASA the same time she got into med school.
The weather is very nice and pleasant, in the 60’s and very sunny with blue skies. It is the time of the white nights which means it does not get dark until after 10:30 p.m. and gets light around 4 a.m. Cottage 3 is where Suni and I stay. It is like three duplexes connected together. We have three bedrooms and a large hallway upstairs which has a cot in it for another person if necessary. A large kitchen, two ½ bathrooms, dining room, living room, office room where there are two desks, two cupboards for manuals and supplies, a table with copier and fax machines and two clocks, one Houston time, one Moscow time.
There is a washer and dryer in the bathroom on the main floor. The kitchen is very large and well stocked. In fact when I was there they just brought in some more supplies for the kitchen: stencils, pans, glasses, etc. Suni and the rest of the people who stay there leave baking supplies, and staples for the next one who occupies the cottage. The steps going upstairs are steep and narrow.
I would hate to fall down those stairs. The floors are hardwood with oriental rugs. The furniture is Russian or old style but sturdy and well cared for. The cottages are in a country setting with trees and grass that the drivers maintain. There is also a shackleek area with a covered roof for grilling shackleek and sitting in case it rains. It is stacked with plastic chairs and has a nice picnic table inside. There is a light on the roof and a bird’ nest. I saw the baby bird looking down on us.
Suni has stocked the refrigerator full of yogurt, vegetables, cheese, fruit and a big pot of chicken soup she made the day before. I am impressed. I am going to take a shower and get ready while she is at Russian class. We will probably go somewhere when she gets back from class. I’ll keep you posted.