I started training for this moment over 4.5 years ago when I was chosen to be part of ESA’s class of 2009 astronauts. Since then ESA has trained me for 3000 hours including medical examinations and public relation events.
I spent another 3000 hours training with the International Space Station partners in USA, Canada, Russia and Japan and since my Blue Dot mission training began.
From January 2012 I spent 45 weeks (around 1750 hours training) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. 31 weeks were spent at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center with 1100 hours in training and simulations. In Tsukuba, Japan I stayed for four weeks and spent 150 hours learning about the Japanese Kibo module and Japanese experiments.
All this travel and training required many long trips: I travelled around 400 000 km by aircraft.
It has brought me to this point: Max, Reid and I passed the Russian Space Station exams. A milestone exam that signifies the last hurdle before our flight into space from Baikonur, Kazachstan, 28 May.
From now on we will be doing a number of traditional ceremonies as well as spending some time in quarantine before we are allowed to the Space Station.
A visit to the Red Square in Moscow, the cosmonaut hotel and space museum in Baikonur.
All this travel will seem insignificant once we leave Earth orbit and reach our cruising speed of 28 800 km/h. Circling Earth we will travel almost twice the distance I travelled in the last four years each day. We will witness 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. I cannot wait.