I am writing this at 9:30 in the morning on 28 May. We are only a few hours away from launch, and I am trying to analyse my thoughts and emotions. Many have asked me what it feels like during these moments but it is very difficult to describe. It is better to use someone else’s words, someone who is much better at writing than me. Years ago I read Sandro Veronesi’s “Caos Calmo” or Calm Chaos in English, and I think the title fits my current mood very well.
I am focused on the departure. Procedures begin hours before: there is first a medical checkup, then special hygiene procedures to avoid bringing bacteria to the International Space Station.
Traditions follow: we will be invited, along with the backup crew to make a toast with sparkling wine. We will not drink, but the backup crew will, at which point they will have willingly broken a spaceflight rule and will no longer be qualified to fly. We will then proceed to sign our names on the doors of our rooms at the Cosmonaut Hotel – I will put mine next to Chris Hadfield’s, as I was his backup six months ago. Finally, the same Orthodox priest from Star City will give us his blessing. It is the last time to see our loved ones close by – the excitement is already skyrocketing, and we have not left the hotel yet!
Despite all this being central in my thoughts if I close my eyes for a moment everything fades away and I visualise a road.
The road that led me to write these words today is made up of many steps: each step has been taken together with a person who has accompanied me at a given time, changing me, changing the direction, the speed, the path. All these people are now part of me and my trip and it is to them that I would like to dedicate this last blog at 1g, along with one word, the most important one: Thank You!